Women, peace, and security

Women, Peace, Security
Photo: UN Women/Trifonova Ekaterina

About WPS agenda and UN Women support

Women all over the world are leading movements for peace and to rebuild communities, and there is strong evidence suggesting that women’s participation in contributes to longer, more resilient peace after conflict. Yet, despite this, women remain largely invisible to, and excluded from, peace processes and negotiations.

UN Women supports women’s full and equal representation and, meaningful participation in all levels and all stages of peacebuilding processes (conflict prevention, protection of women’s and girls’ rights during and after the conflict, addressing special needs of women and girls related to repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence, and their full inclusion in post-conflict recovery), in line with the UNSCR 1325 and follow up resolutions on women, peace, and security.

About National Action Plans on UN SCR 1325 (NAP 1325)

To deliver on women, peace and security agenda at the national level, the Member States are encouraged to adopt NAPs to translate UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions into action and to promote accountability for their implementation at the national level. The first NAP 1325 in Ukraine was approved in 2016. It was the first-ever plan adopted during the ongoing conflict, that erupted in 2014. In 2020, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1325 the Government of Ukraine adopted its second NAP, developed with UN Women’s technical support. As of 2021, 22 regional administrations and Kyiv city have localized and adopted their action plans or incorporated NAPs related provisions into the wider social and/or economic programmes. Local action plans have been further adopted by 26 communities in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions. By 2021, several security sector institutions developed and adopted their sectoral action plans for the implementation of NAP 1325.

The eruption of a full-fledged war in Ukraine in 2022 gave the NAP 1325 a new meaning. Some areas of the implementation of women, peace and security agenda in Ukraine became more prominent and urgent. These include prevention and response to gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence, community safety and security, financial inclusion, access to paid work for displaced women, and inclusion and meaningful participation of women and women’s organizations in decision-making, including in humanitarian response and recovery.

Women and girls during the wartime in Ukraine

Since the beginning of the war women and girls in Ukraine have faced heightened risks of gender-based violence, conflict-related sexual violence, human trafficking, exploitation due to lack of basic safety and security, loss of regular income, and massive displacement. As of May 10, 5.9 million refugees have already fled Ukraine, and the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has reached 8 million. Of those who have fled the country, it is estimated that 90 percent were women and children.

In March and April 2022 UN Women in close cooperation with CARE International published the Rapid Gender Analysis of Ukraine, (RGA) which has confirmed that the war and follow up humanitarian crisis have largely exacerbated pre-existing gender and intersectional inequalities and discrimination, and a massive scale and women have been also disproportionally affected by the multisectoral and compounded impact of the crisis. While women and their organizations have been playing a key role in the humanitarian response, they have not been fully involved in decision-making.

Women of Ukraine must be part of the solutions and decision-making, including after the war, fully involved in recovery and reconstruction and maintaining peace. Women’s representation and participation make response and recovery more effective and sustainable. Local women’s organizations are uniquely positioned to support women and girls, as well as target vulnerable groups of the population facing intersectional challenges in advocating for their manifold needs and supporting their reintegration. It is vital that they are consulted and meaningfully engaged in all decisions related to the crisis response and related to peace. In line with RGA findings, UN Women intensified its efforts to support local women’s organizations, by providing additional targeted funding for their institutional and capacity development needs, as well as for the immediate humanitarian needs of the war-affected women and girls in different parts of Ukraine.

The Youth Peace and Security (YPS) and Women, Peace and Security Agendas

UN Women is enhancing the impact of peace and security policies and peacebuilding programmes with meaningful youth participation and holds itself accountable to an important constituency generating as a complete picture of the context as possible so that interventions are responsive to the realities on the ground. Both the YPS and WPS agendas seek to address significant gaps in the international community’s efforts to address the increasingly complex challenge of preventing conflict and sustaining peaceful and inclusive societies through more comprehensive approaches.

Globally, youth are significantly affected by violence. In 2016, an estimated 408 million young women and men (aged 15–29) resided in settings affected by armed conflict or organized violence.

This means that approximately 23 percent of the global youth population – about one in four young people – are affected by organized violence or armed conflict in some way. Youth suffer a wide range of short-, medium- and long-term effects, ranging from repeat victimization, psychological trauma, identity-based discrimination, and social and economic exclusion. Violent conflict destroys young women and men's sources of stability and belonging, which disrupts or fast-forwards the processes of transition into adulthood through interruption of young people’s education and the destruction of social support structures and livelihood opportunities.

Violent conflict in Ukraine, humanitarian crises and migration affect and potentially dislocate young women and men's transition to adulthood by distorting their life cycle progress and rupturing the commonplaces of community-based belonging, status, and social cohesion. At the same time, many young women and men are courageously defending their country, tirelessly working to prevent conflict and sustain peace in their communities.

Young women weaves a scrim for the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Photo: UN Women Ukraine

Young women are part of both the WPS and YPS agendas and yet are at risk of exclusion when they are subsumed into the categories of “women and youth”. A gender perspective on the YPS agenda, and an age perspective on gender issues, can significantly enhance peace and security efforts.

The bridge between the implementation of the resolutions should be built by understanding the gendered experiences, challenges, and opportunities of young people in peace and security matters, and the implications of age dynamics in the WPS agenda.

Therefore, UN Women is working towards mobilization and capacity development of youth CSOs in peace and security and mobilization of women in pilot communities around Women, Peace and Security agenda and implications of age dynamics in the WPS agenda.