By Military Women
You asked: What is the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and why is it important to Canadian military women?
We answered: UN studies demonstrated that state conflict resolution and peace processes are more effective and long-lasting when diverse voices are invited to sit at the table, especially women’s voices. Studies also showed that the design and delivery of foreign aid is more effective when the needs of diverse groups, particularly women, are specifically considered. Directly impacted women are often the best sources to identify their own needs and potential vulnerabilities in conflict or humanitarian situations.
To act on these findings, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was passed in 2000. It was the first resolution to acknowledge and address the disproportionately negative effects of armed conflict on women and girls. Canada was a signatory to it, and the eight subsequent resolutions that together are referred to as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. It calls on the international community to promote:
• women’s meaningful participation in all conflict-prevention and conflict
• resolution mechanisms and mainstreamed gendered perspective into all peace and security activities and strategies, including peace operations, stabilization missions, and counter-terrorism;
• human rights and gender equality of women and girls including protection from sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation, and preservation of their sexual rights and access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services; and
• more deployed women in uniform (military and policing).
I hear you say: “I understand a bit more about what WPS is, but what does this all have to do with Canada specifically?”
Canada committed itself to an ambitious 2017-2022 National Action Plan or “C-NAP”. Each impacted department has its own implementation plan on to best support the C-NAP. Implementation partners (IPs) continue to grow in numbers but Global Affairs Canada is the lead along with DND/CAF, RCMP, Public Safety, Immigration, Justice, and Women and Gender Equality, (WAGE was formerly Status of Women, renamed after becoming a government department in December 2018). Progress reports are made by the IPs twice a year to civil society representatives. Many of the representatives coming from the Women Peace and Security Network – Canada, a non-profit collaboration of various non-governmental organizations and individuals all committed to the promoting and monitoring of the WPS agenda.
Let’s look specifically at the DND/CAF implementation plan and why its important to all Canadian military women as well as women abroad. Its one of the UN’s WPS priorities to increase the number of women in all security roles including in the military. In alignment with this priority, the CDS has committed to increasing the number of women in CAF to 25% within the next 10 years, which hopefully will result in more women trained and available for UN deployments.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road for military women. CAF has fully supported the WPS agenda and integrated gendered perspectives on operations. CAF strives for equitable care and support of civilian impacted women when on operations outside of Canada. However, there is a growing realization that leading by example for WPS has to be inclusive of the “domestic” agenda; how CAF is supporting its own women in uniform. As discussed in last months article, operational effectiveness requires all soldiers, women or men, to feel respected and included and have any special support needs considered. Although it may be named Women, Peace and Security – its goals and aspirations can’t be achieved without the full support of everyone, men and women, both at home and when abroad.
To learn more search “UNSCR 1325”, “Women, Peace and Security”, “Canada’s National Action Plan” or check out WPSN-Canada.org