Govts. criticized for keeping women from peace talks

UNITED NATIONS — On the eve of International Women’s Day, leading women’s rights campaigners at the United Nations (UN) and the African Union and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate criticized male-dominated governments Tuesday for excluding women from peace negotiations.

They complained that governments are ignoring a UN resolution adopted in 2000 demanding equal participation for women in talks to end conflicts.

Sima Bahous, head of the UN agency promoting gender equality, lamented “the regression in women’s rights.”

She told the Security Council that “we have neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls.”

Bahous, executive director of UN Women, called for “a radical change of direction.”

She said action should be taken to mandate the inclusion of women at every meeting and in every decision-making process, with consequences for non-compliance. And funds should be channeled to women’s groups in conflict-affected countries where the money is most needed, she said.

Protect women

The Security Council was assessing the state of the resolution it adopted on Oct. 31, 2000, that stresses the important role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts and demands their equal participation in all efforts to promote peace and security. It also calls on all parties to conflicts to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, especially rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

Since the 20th anniversary of the resolution in 2020, Bahous said, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have imposed “gender apartheid” and war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region reportedly led to sexual violence “at a staggering scale.” Coups in conflict-affected countries in Africa’s Sahel and Sudan to Myanmar have dramatically shrunk the civic space for women’s organizations and activists, she added.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women began its annual two-week session Monday, March 6, 2023, focusing on closing gender gaps in technology and innovation. It is also examining digital harassment and disinformation aimed at women that fosters violent misogyny.

Bahous cited a recent study that says politically motivated online abuse of women within Myanmar and from the country increased at least fivefold after that country’s February 2021 coup. (AP)