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Gender equality is a fundamental value of the European Union and flows through all of the EU’s actions and policies, both internally and externally. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are also essential factors to prevent, manage and resolve conflict and crises.
The EU Strategic Approach to Women, Peace and Security (WPS), welcomed by the Foreign Affairs Council in December 2018, aims to ensure that women and girls from all backgrounds can participate and shape all matters related to peace and security from conflict prevention to conflict resolution, as well as to prevent and protect from conflict-related violence – including sexual and gender-related violence. Building on the EU’s work to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS, the EU Strategic Approach contains commitments and clear guidelines to achieve peace and security by engaging, empowering, protecting and supporting women and girls.
Following up on this work, the EEAS organised the first-ever such High-Level Academic Roundtable on Women, Peace and Security, to initiate a fruitful exchange with renowned scholars from around the world on WPS-related research, and listen to their views on how to ensure the effectiveness of the EU Strategic Approach to WPS, facilitate its implementation and ensure that the EU and its Member States as well as the broader international community are leading by example.
The scholars were joined in discussions by Member-States representatives, civil society organisations and the EEAS Secretary-General Helga Schmid as well as the outgoing Romanian and incoming Finnish Presidencies of the Council, and the EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender/WPS Ambassador Mara Marinaki, who also read out the personal message of HRVP Federica Mogherini to the participants.
The EEAS SG Schmid took stock of the positive progress achieved by EU in the implementation of the WPS agenda, while she stressed, however, that ‘’we are still very far from where we want to be’’ and invited to a reflection on possible preventing factors to the effective implementation and on the root causes of the slow progress of WPS agenda.
Leading feminist activist/Professor Cynthia Enloe pointed in her keynote speech to the importance of integrating gender analysis into all processes and to the necessity of developing the correct skills to perform it. She also stressed the importance of breaking silos to better map inequality and understand the interrelation between conflict and the environment in which every woman and man lives – women are, for example, too often disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The panel discussions that followed revolved around past and future opportunities and challenges for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda; sexual and gender-based violence; women’s meaningful participation; the role of civil society. The roundtable can be re-watched here.
The EU is committed to continuing to act as a global leader when it comes to fully implementing the WPS agenda. ‘’When progress begins to happen, it is always met with greater resistance and with backlash. So this is precisely the moment to redouble our commitment to making peace work for the whole of society, and not just for half of it’’, as stated in Federica Mogherini’s contribution to the event.
Main photo: UN Women