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Gaps Remain for Women in Peacekeeping Roles - 2002-10-24

Women activists from war torn nations have marked the second anniversary of a U.N. resolution legitimizing the role of women in peacekeeping. But a group of international non-governmental organizations says there are still gaps in the implementation of the resolution.

Security Council Resolution 13.25 on women, peace and security reaffirms the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building.

Chile's Ambassador to the United Nations illustrates the benefit of the resolution when he says his country, which adopted it two years ago, has set an example for Latin America, by filling major ministry positions with women and appointing a woman Minister of Defense. He hopes others will follow. "The reality is that women and children account for more than three-quarters of the 40-million persons who have been displaced throughout the world as a result of armed conflicts and/or violations of human rights."

A coalition of international non-governmental organizations called the Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, says the resolution is a landmark document but that women's contributions to peace efforts continue to be dismissed.

Angelina Acheng Atyam's daughter was abducted in Northern Uganda in 1996 by a group called the Lord's Resistance Army. Since then, Ms. Atyam has worked to secure the release of not only her daughter, but all children in rebel captivity. She says the resolution could help women in her country take more action. "It could be a solution to our problems, if implemented, for the protection of people, not only the refugees in camps but also for the people displaced internally. It could also reduce the plight of the child mothers, which is very rampant in our country," she says. "We women in Northern Uganda want peace and we want to get it without the barrels of the guns."

Israeli Gila Svirsky is an activist with Women in Black, an international peace network, as well as other organizations that advocate a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She says the women's peace movement in Israel is vital and steadfast, but she is still shocked by the lack of women in the actual peace negotiations. "Preposterously enough, despite the vanguard efforts of women making peace in Israel, there has never been a single woman who has participated in peace efforts and peace negotiations in any of the peace summits that have taken place in which our government has been involved and only one Palestinian woman," says Ms. Svirsky.

The Working Group on Women, Peace and Security wants the Security Council to ensure women's participation by appointing women to key positions in peacekeeping missions, including a gender adviser to address the issue of protection for women and girls in conflict. The group says a monitoring system should be established to track the implementation of the resolution.