Challenges ahead on assuring women’s participation in peace and security


Education and training

In conflict situations there is a need for action in order to ensure the protection of civilians and participation in peace processes. Training as well as UNSCR 1325 mainstreaming in educational systems helps improve the capacity of officers in addressing gender perspective in Peace and Security. Recommendations addressed during the workshop included the need for political will for allocation of human, financial and time resources; the importance of choosing the appropriate experienced trainers and of carefully analysing the target audience; the value of feedback from operational experiences, the adjustment of training modules in according to specific cultural and operational realities; the combination of commitments from gender-sensitive mandates from headquarters to operational actions at field level; and the follow-up on actual impact of training.

Cooperation UN, EU, OSCE, NATO

A lot has been done and put in place and many actors are involved in action ensuring the implementation of UNSCR 1325. Nevertheless, “nobody can do this alone”. More coordination efforts were recommended, for example in identifying priority areas –geographical and thematic– on which to focus all actors’ practical action, principally on prevention. Coordination between organizations but between Peace and Security fields and Development sectors too; both sectors must be considered part of a continuum. Furthermore, strengthening the relationship with civil society based on dialogue with actors on the field is part of any cooperation effort. Building inclusive societies may include different instruments or different approaches for a challenging world.

Mainstreaming 1325 in operations and missions

There are legal and political instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action, gender specific working groups, gender focal people and action plans as well as indicator systems, to follow up and evaluate actions in effect. Moreover, further NGOs have gotten involved in the subjects of women, peace and security actions in the past years. However, some challenges remain as cultural approaches and participatory mechanisms are still needed to cooperate with civil society at field level. Coordination among organisations should be supported through comprehensive visions and policies. Efforts on developing women’s leadership capacity and practical guidelines should continue as well as allocations of resources. Even though we were able to identify means by which women could develop self-organization and peace initiatives, progress on women empowerment and participation on peace remains slow, consequently actors should continue supporting their processes.   

Women in the Security Sector Reform

Even though the UNSCR 1325 does not specifically mention the Security Sector Reform, women participation at the national level would transform their approach and reinforce coordination and ownership processes. Cheryl Hendricks, Senior Researcher for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and partner of the Club de Madrid’s project ‘
Women’s Leadership, Peace and Security Project‘, highlighted the relevance of a proper work approach, from women to gender perspective. In addition she underlined the relevance of gender responsible Security Sector reform, due to women wanting to be part of a gender responsive sector and not just to a representative. Furthermore, other experts discussed the relevance of addressing the root issues i.e. how and who define security, particularly from the military point of view. The Security Sector Reform must take into account the consultations and dialogues with women in guaranteeing their contributions.

During the concluding remarks, Carlos Westendorp, the Club de Madrid’s Secretary General, highlighted that there was a lot that had been put into place, yet a comprehensive approach should be strengthened in order to link Peace and Security with development efforts, as well as enhance coordination between actors. Building inclusive societies embraces dialogue with all actors, as well as contributions from women confronted with the problem, women with first-hand knowledge of the causes and extreme effects of the evolving security situation on the field.



Further information

Women’s Leadership, Peace and Security Project at Club de Madrid website

Women’s Role in Peace and Security at NATO website



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