Women, Peace, Security and COVID 19

April 15, 2020

This year in October 2020 will mark twenty years since the UN Security Council’s adopted the Resolution 1325. The resolution emphasizes « the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. The resolution provides a number of important operational mandates, with implications for Member States and the entities of the United Nations system. » (United Nations)

According to the United Nations, there is only 83 nations (less then a half of its members) have developed a National Action Plan and of that number only 28 include an allocated budget for its implementation.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the first National Action Plan was launched in 2008 for a period of four (4) years. The NAP is a partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice and Security, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, 50 Civil Society Organizations and Knowledge Institutions. Presently, the focus of the NAP was on developing countries. The NAP IV, which will cover the period 2021 – 2025, will include a National Pillar.

Why a special focus on a National Pillar ?

In the current NAP III, the overall objective is “To contribute to an enabling environment for women’s participation and empowerment in conflict and post conflict environment , so they can meaningfully participate in conflict prevention, resolution, peace building, protection, relief and recovery”. The narrative further describes specific objectives to “Enhancing Protection, Decrease of harmful gender norms, Equal Leverage in Conflict Prevention, Resolution, Peace Building, Relief and Recovery”.

The Netherlands has been one of the many countries to receive refugees from countries where conflicts and war have been ongoing. The refugees, among which are a growing number of women and youth, are still experiencing concerns of protection and are facing harmful gender normes at different levels. Some of the anomalies are Trauma, domestic violence, exclusion and discrimination. Refugee women more than men are less likely to find a job or access to education and are considered “staying home mothers” and of “low level education”, with very little exposure to community life (*samenleving). Additionally, this level of exclusion comes with limited possibilities to support their children, which has led some children to find themselves severely handicapped educationally.

The NAP IV, the National Pillar will have to take a closer look into what is happening in the Netherlands within the refugees in fulfillemnt of the objectives described in its plan of Action , especially the Protection, Relief and Recovery. Women’s Initiatives Network (WIN) plan is to work with policymakers and other stakeholders involved in gender equality to revisit current mechanism that needs more inclusive interventions.

WPS and Generation COVID 19

In an article from Forbes, one out of three women in the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization. During times of crisis—such situations of conflicts and wars, the risk of gender-based-violence. We are seeing how this is also the case with the Corona virus pandemic crisis.

In this pandemic crisis, let us remember that women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally. However, it is reported by WHO that health workers face gender related gap in pay. It is also noted that much of the work in health done by women is unpaid work.

In Africa, It has been estimated that women and girls can walk up to 9/10 km to fetch for water and they are doing so carrying with them not less than 10/15 liters of water on their head.With this in mind, it will result in girls not going to school, exposure to insecurity on the way as well as limiting their chance to work or have a stable income generating activities. Studies have shown that the time spent by these women and girls searching for water exceeds 40 billion hours per year.

In the Netherlands, refugees women are have limited information and knowledge about the Coronavirus as information provided are mainly in Dutch and for some translated, it still remain in a high level that is not to the understanding of everyone.

The level of education coupled with psychological situations do not enable them to support their children now that the school are closed. Confinement comes in a period where most of the women live in isolation because of lack of opportunity to access to job market or to have any form of income considered formal.

Faith related institutions such as Migrants Churches or Mosquees are close, which consists one of the major connection to the Society. Rumors have made their ways into homes and community, that give place to fear and confusion and give room to depression.

Womens Initiatives Network (WIN) believes that as all partners come together, we agree that it is not time to discriminate, blame or shame but rather to remind us that we can only WIN if we do this together.

Created in October 2015, at Cooperative Arbre a Palabre, we advocate for dispensing a “bottom up” approach, where individuals and communities become more independent and our able to find mechanisms within their immediate need to address issues such as a pandemic. Confined, we have little possibilities to know what is happening to those not in the hospital and on television. So let us start by valuing the contribution of each and every one. We are living the COVID 19 generation because nothing will ever be the same.

To end, we wish to invite the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment as well as Dutch Municipalities, on behalf of the Refugee Women, Families and Children, please do become a signatory of the Dutch National Action Plan 1325.

To our partners, Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund has launched a Call for Proposals under the newly established WHPF COVID-10 Emergency Response Window. For more information and check your eligibility, please clink here WHPF

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