OSCE parliamentarians discuss enhancing the role of women in peace and security

080921 MC and LZ H50Margareta Cederfelt and Lamberto ZannierCOPENHAGEN, 8 September 2021 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held an event today as part of its Call for Action – Helsinki +50 initiative to focus attention on how political leaders and parliamentarians across the OSCE region can further the Women, Peace and Security agenda, with a particular focus on promoting implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

With welcoming remarks from OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt (Sweden) and Secretary General Roberto Montella, the event featured panelists OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (Canada); Special Representative on the South Caucasus Kari Henriksen (Norway); Amb. Neil Bush, Chair of the OSCE MenEngage Network; and Amb. Tuula Yrjölä, Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre; as well as concluding remarks by Amb. Lamberto Zannier, OSCE PA High-Level Expert.

Several OSCE PA members participated in the discussion, including Vice-President Irene Charalambides (Cyprus) who serves as Special Representative on Fighting Corruption and Vice-President Askar Shakirov (Kazakhstan) who is Special Representative on Sustainable Development Goals.

In her opening remarks Cederfelt noted that last year marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which underlined the central role of women in conflict prevention, management, and resolution. She highlighted the national action plans that her country has adopted to strengthen this agenda, with Swedish government agencies now including gender perspectives in their projects, and significantly increased funding for women’s organizations working for peace. She argued that these practices can be replicated across the OSCE area.

“As parliamentarians,” Cederfelt said, “we can champion policies and laws that prevent gender-based violence and contribute to the Women, Peace and Security agenda. It is only by entrenching these values that we can truly progress towards greater gender equality.”

Special Representative Fry pointed out that UNSCR 1325 was first brought up in 2000, more than two decades ago, and since that time despite governments being tasked with adopting plans, implementation is still lagging. She explained the rationale behind 1325, stressing that women are among the most affected by conflicts and therefore have a deep commitment to conflict resolution. To ensure that women are equal participants in the process, Fry stressed that there must be more accountability. “Parliamentarians have to move this agenda forward,” she said.

Amb. Bush said it is essential to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes, pointing out that when women are involved in conflict resolution, the peace is more likely to last. He argued that women’s participation must be both informal and formal, and that men have a responsibility to reframe their thinking and overcome certain gender biases. Recognizing that women often face threats of violence, greater focus must also be placed on how to provide protection, he said.

080921 Tuula YrjöläTuula YrjöläAmb. Yrjölä focused on ensuring women’s participation in conflict resolution at all levels, noting that the CPC’s toolbox is inclusive in this regard. The CPC provides targeted support to OSCE participating States, she noted, offers advice and conducts research. She also highlighted a scholarship for peace and security programme that trains young female professionals in the field. Parliamentarians, she said, can integrate this agenda into their daily work and the PA can contribute by continuing to prioritize the issue and facilitating exchanges of knowledge and best practices.

During the discussion, OSCE parliamentarians shared experiences from their countries and offered observations on the state of gender relations and the role of women in security and peacebuilding. Highlighting the national approach of Norway, Special Representative Henriksen underlined that it is important to raise awareness in governments, noting also that more women are needed in leadership positions.

Summarizing the debate, Amb. Zannier underscored the importance of replicating best practices around the OSCE area in implementing UNSC 1325 and promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Good information must be shared on what works and encourage others to follow suit, he said. He also noted the importance of fostering more political attention to ensure implementation, and including parliamentarians in other initiatives of the OSCE, such as relevant projects by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Ultimately, he said, there must be a more strategic vision to make sure that efforts are sustained and that resources are properly allocated.

Secretary General Montella also addressed the meeting, noting that by embracing gender issues, we not only strengthen the prospects of conflict resolution, but also strengthen the OSCE as a whole. Ahead of the OSCE’s 50th anniversary, the PA will continue working to strengthen the Organization, Montella said.

To watch video of the event, please click here.

For more information on the OSCE PA's Helsinki +50 initiative, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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