On Monday, June 6, 2022, the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship held the sixth event entitled “A Feminist Critique of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda” of its Gender and Feminism Roundtable Series. This event was held both in Auditorium B, West Hall, American University of Beirut, and online.
After decades of grassroots activism advocating for women’s meaningful participation in matters of peace and security, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security was adopted unanimously in 2000. The Resolution reaffirms commitments made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform Action in 1995, calling for the full participation of women at all levels of decision-making in peace processes, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.
Over the past two decades, eight additional resolutions have been passed such as UNSC resolution 1820 (2008) condemning sexual violence as a weapon of war and declaring rape and other forms of sexual violence as war crimes. A year later, Resolution 1889 (2009) called for the development of indicators to track the implementation of the almost decade-old Resolution 1325 (2000). It resulted in the delineation of four pillars: (1) prevention with gendered approaches to reducing fragility and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, (2) protection against sexual and gender-based violence, (3) participation at all levels of decision-making, and (4) relief and recovery by applying a gendered lens to address international crises.
While these indicators are an improvement to the Women’s Peace and Security Agenda, feminist peace and security advocates outline the main obstacles to the agenda as (1) militarism and militarization, (2) patriarchal and political underpinning of the agenda, and (3) the lack of accountability for implementation. Their critique calls for an increased intersectional and structural approach to the challenges posed by the above.
Several countries in the MENA region are shaken by decade-old, ongoing conflicts like Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and the more than seven-decade-old occupation of Palestine, with women and girls being disproportionately affected. Moreover, despite calls for greater representation of women in peace processes, negotiations are still male-dominated, and the few women included in the processes lack meaningful participation. This goes beyond politics of representation and tokenistic inclusion of women: lack of full, equal, effective, and meaningful participation of women and marginalized groups is indicative of a patriarchal concentration of power and feeds into the gender stereotypes that the security agenda is ‘men’s work’.
As part of the Feminist Circles series, the Asfari Institute organized a roundtable on a feminist approach and critique of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. This discussion aims to discuss the limits of the existing practices, and explore transformative, feminist approaches to Peace and Security.
Meet the speakers and panelists
- Paola Salwan Daher is the Senior Global Advocacy Adviser at the Geneva Office of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organisation that uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right. Her work focuses on advocacy with the Human Rights Council and on issues of sexual and reproductive health and the rights of women and girls affected by conflict. A feminist activist, Paola was a member of the Feminist Collective Nasawiya in Lebanon, where she worked on many initiatives pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women, and refugees and migrant women’s rights in Lebanon. She is also a writer and has contributed to many outlets such as Sawt Al Niswa, Young Feminist Wire, Solidarités, Al Akhbar, and others. Paola has also published two novels.
- Mona Zeineddine is the Programmes Manager at Women Now for Development, a feminist, women-led NGO dedicated to deepening and strengthening women’s role in Syrian and host communities by enhancing their political, social, and economic participation. WN works to amplify Syrian women’s voices by supporting local women-led advocacy as well as through conducting in-depth feminist research and analysis on gender-based violence, Syrian women’s living conditions, and perceptions, among other topics.
- Lama Kannout (She/her) is a Syrian feminist, political activist, writer, and researcher. She works on transitional transformative justice, and gender equality. Kannout has written in several newspapers and online platforms. And has three published books: In the Core or on the Margin: Syrian Women’s Political Participation, (2017), Gender Sensitive Transitional Justice in Syria, (2019), and a book documenting the oral memory of a number of Syrian women detainees titled So I’m not kept in the Shadows, (2019). Additionally, Ms Kannout has co-founded and managed a number of civil society organizations concerned with democracy and human rights. She also established and directed an advertising agency from 1992 to 2014.
Watch the full recording here: