I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence, is today publishing the third and final annual review of the UK Government national action plan (NAP) on UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (“UNSCR 1325”). The national action plan is intended to strengthen our ability to reduce the impact of conflict on women and girls, and to promote their inclusion in conflict resolution. It provides a framework for incorporating the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security into the Government’s work on conflict prevention.
Over the last three years (2010-13), the UK Government have made progress on the commitments in the national action plan across the four pillars of UNSCR 1325: participation; prevention; protection; and relief and recovery. We have worked nationally, bilaterally with other countries, and through multilateral organisations and fora.
Women have a key role to play in decision-making, in the aftermath of violent conflict. It is essential that peace negotiations provide for the active participation, perspectives and needs of both men and women. Promoting and supporting women’s active and meaningful participation in all peace processes, as well as their representation in formal and informal decision-making at all levels, is vital to international peace and security. In this context, we welcome the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2122 on 18 October, which reaffirms the integral role women play in peace processes. Incorporating gender perspectives into our conflict-prevention efforts has been an increasingly important focus of our efforts. The UK recognises that long-term conflict prevention requires investment in all perspectives. Women’s participation can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of and alternative solutions to violent conflict. In Afghanistan, the UK’s support to the Tawanmandi programme, aimed at building the capacity of Afghan civil society, has as a main element support for women’s contribution to communities, including the empowerment of women through local peace councils in 16 projects across the country.
Securing the physical safety, mental and economic well-being of women and girls is essential to the UK’s women, peace and security efforts. Investing in women’s empowerment helps build gender equality, eradicate poverty and promote inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, or as entrepreneurs or employees. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UK is providing £60 million between 2010 and 2014 for the sector and police action programme, which works to build political will and institutional capacity to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in the security and justice sector.
We recognise the necessity of ensuring relief needs specific to women and girls are met, and that special attention is paid to the most vulnerable, including displaced women and girls as well as survivors of gender-based violence. We support women’s activities in relief and recovery efforts, including providing women with equal access to livelihoods activities. For example, in Nepal, the UK has contributed to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme which has helped build a rehabilitation programme for women and girls linked with awareness building activities on reproductive health, women’s rights and civic responsibility.
Nationally, we have sought to strengthen the Government’s skills and analysis on women, peace and security, for example through courses on this issue for diplomatic, development and defence staff, run by the FCO, DFID and MOD’s stabilisation unit. We also seek to strengthen analysis of gender, when building an evidence base on specific countries and regions through the Government’s joint analysis on conflict and stability (JACS) methodology. Armed with the evidence, we can inform and shape the Government’s response to conflict and fragility overseas.
The Home Office lead the UK Government’s call to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), and the Department for International Development (DFID) continue to increase their work to tackle VAWG through overseas programming. The creation of the role of ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas, fulfilled by the Under-Secretary for the Department for International Development, has added further impetus to securing commitment to this agenda. The national action plan review highlights some of this important work, including the new VAWG research and innovation fund with an investment of up to £25 million that DFID announced in November 2012. This will generate high quality and policy relevant data and evidence on what works for the prevention of VAWG and includes a specific component on the prevalence and nature of VAWG in conflict and humanitarian emergencies.
The Government have sought to increase the profile of the women, peace and security agenda, through targeted, high-level campaigning in the international arena, underpinned by action on the ground. Since the launch of the preventing sexual violence initiative by the Foreign Secretary in May 2012, the campaign has sought to challenge the culture of impunity that exists for sexual violence in conflict. In April this year, G8 Foreign Ministers agreed a historic declaration on sexual violence in conflict which contained a number of key political, practical and legal commitments. In June, under the UK’s presidency of the UN Security Council, the Foreign Secretary hosted an open debate on tackling sexual violence in conflict, which focused on the need to challenge the culture of impunity that exists and to hold perpetrators to account. A new UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR 2106) was adopted during the debate.
A new national action plan will be published in 2014, covering the period from 2014 until 2017. In line with recommendations from an assessment of the NAP, the new plan will set out an overarching strategy that aligns the Government’s work on women, peace and security and brings together various activities (including the PSVI and the broader DFID work to tackle VAWG) in a more coherent and co-ordinated manner. The new NAP will also focus more on monitoring and evaluation; this will ensure better evaluation of impact on the ground and progress against stated objectives. This will build on lessons to date, and address some of the challenges in the current NAP. In drafting the new NAP, we will continue consultations and close collaboration with civil society groups.
The Government are determined that our work in this field should be as effective as possible, with the widest possible level of international support, to strengthen our ability to reduce the impact of conflict on women and girls, and to promote their inclusion in conflict resolution. We will continue to work with Parliament, civil society and our international partners on this.
I have deposited a copy of the third and final annual review of the NAP 2010-13 in the Libraries of both Houses.