Women for peace

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Founding Chair, Arab International Women's Forum, and Ibrahim Gambari, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Nigeria and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

©Parth Sanyal/Reuters

UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which was adopted in 2000, recognised, for the first time, the vital contribution of women to conflict prevention and resolution. 

As a symbolic act and practical call to action, the UN resolution acknowledged what we have experienced throughout our careers in diplomacy, business, academia, and development: the involvement of women in peace processes significantly improves the prospects for a more durable peace. Each year since, the role of women in keeping and building peace has figured more prominently in the commemoration of International Women’s Day, 8 March. This is rightly so.

Yet, 16 years on, formidable political, socio-cultural, and economic obstacles remain to the full participation of women in peace efforts, whether as peacemakers or as citizens—something the UN resolution was supposed to help overcome. This is a major conclusion of the Commission on Global Justice, Security & Governance, on which we proudly serve.

In our report, Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance, we view gender inequality as a fundamental global governance challenge, especially in conflict-affected environments, where, compared to men, women suffer harm differently and disproportionately. Despite the call in Resolution 1325 for greater female participation in peace processes, they remain acutely under-represented in UN-brokered talks. Research carried out by UNIFEM/UN Women reveals that, in 14 diverse cases since 2000, women’s participation in peace negotiation delegations averaged less than 8%, and less than 3% of their signatories were women.

Today, only two of 22 UN under-secretaries-general are women, and in UN missions, women make up less than a third of the international civilian staff, 21% of senior professional levels, and only 18% of national staff. Moreover, the recent Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 found that only 54 countries have formulated National Action Plans for Resolution 1325. Entire regions, notably the Americas and Middle East, are lagging behind.

Meanwhile, the plight of millions of women, men and children in the greater Middle East seeking refuge in nearby Europe and beyond reminds us of the need for urgent action to prevent and end ongoing wars. From sitting at the negotiating table to building the blocks for long-term reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, women are poised to contribute, when given the opportunity, to fair and durable solutions so essential to reduce human suffering.

To ensure that women’s voices are heard and decision-makers made more accountable, particularly in fragile states, our commission proposes several innovations to advance a vision of “just security.”

First, strengthen the role of women in peace processes. Global and regional institutions should appoint women to prominent peace-making roles. International actors that support peace processes should demand women’s inclusion in negotiating teams and as signatories to ensure that their experiences and priorities are represented. 

Second, employ National Action Plans for Resolution 1325 as an effective tool of foreign policy. Incorporating such plans into a country’s foreign policy can secure and sustain political will and resources—two critical components for ensuring that a plan’s objectives are met and leaders held accountable. 

Third, tackle the socio-economic factors that disadvantage women’s status in society. The commission recognises several such factors, including the lack of access to education, reproductive health services, and decent work opportunities in the formal economy. 

Finally, the commission strongly endorses the UN’s goal of empowering women to become national and world leaders in the 21st century. The Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary General, organised by a group of female scholars and civil society leaders, is an excellent example towards achieving this goal. 

Other international organisations, such as the OECD, are also making headway in bridging the gender gap. As well as one of its four deputy secretary-generals, the OECD’s chief of staff, chief economist and chief statistician are women, while the organisation has stepped up its efforts promoting gender inclusiveness, via the online Gender Data Portal, Wikigender, and many reports and studies.

But there is still a long way to go for countries, even among the OECD membership, to implement the changes needed to fight gender discrimination. All too often women, especially in violent conflict and post-conflict settings, struggle to achieve dignified livelihoods and exert decision-making power, lack access to critical services, and suffer serious physical and mental harm—a toxic triple threat that devastates lives and undermines women’s ability to contribute to society. The ideas we lay out above should be considered and acted upon with a sense of urgency. We will only begin to meet the most pressing global governance challenges when women, who are disproportionately victims, are part of the solution. This can only happen if all organisations take an active role in fostering gender balance.

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani and Ibrahim Gambari both serve on the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance.  


The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center (2015), “Confronting the crisis of global governance”, Report of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance, June

UN Women (2015), Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325

UN Women (2010), Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence

Visit http://wps.unwomen.org and http://www.stimson.org/programs/global-security-justice-and-governance


Closing the gender gap at the OECD Forum 2016

OECD Forum 2016 issues

OECD Observer website

© OECD Yearbook 2016

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q4 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Dec 2017 annual
Trade: +4.3% exp, +4.3% imp, Q3 2017
Unemployment: 5.5% Dec 2017
Last update: 23 Feb 2018


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Ambassador Aleksander Surdej, Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD, was a guest on France 24’s English-language show “The Debate”, where he discussed French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Papers show “past coming back to haunt us”: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria tells Sky News that the so-called "Paradise Papers" show a past coming back to haunt us, but one which is now being dismantled. Please watch the video.
  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2018