This article has been contributed by WPSN – Canada members Prajeena Karmacharya, Kristine St. Pierre and Tamar Palandjian-Toufayan.
Twelve years ago in October 2000, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Twelve years later, Canada has contributed significantly in this realm on the international stage. For the first time at the international level, there was recognition that war and violence affected men and women differently. Gender-based violence against women was considered to be a threat to security at a global level and actions needed to be taken to prevent it from continuing. UNSCR 1325 is also important because it recognizes women play a vital role in conflict resolution processes and should therefore have increased representation in peace negotiations.
The landmark resolution laid out a framework for nation-states to adapt into their policies and actions to ensure increased women’s participation in peace processes. Subsequently, there were several other resolutions that followed, notably 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960 were passed in the years to follow in order to enhance components of the original resolution, 1325.
Canada’s commitment to supporting women’s role in peace and security was most recently affirmed by the Foreign Minister John Baird when he stated: “One of the key premises of our values-based foreign policy is [that] we must actively support and promote not just the equality of men and women, but the full participation of women in all parts of civil society. … When women play an active role in society, so many other problems are resolved and the things we hope to achieve become possible: global security, access to education, and improved child and maternal health.”
The implementation of SCR 1325 in Canada is officially the responsibility of Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Department of National Defence (DND) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
According to 2011 civil society monitoring report on 1325 National Action Plan, Canada can list among its achievements a contribution to the United Nations Peace Operations by providing police and Canadian Forces personnel and maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan as a part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). At the national level, Canada has set up a governmental Interdepartmental Working Group on gender and peacebuilding. Canada is also currently coordinating Friends of 1325, officially known as the Friends of Women, Peace and Security, which is a coalition of countries committed to discuss priorities and advocating for the implementation of Resolution 1325. Canadian civil society has a long standing involvement in issues relating to women, peace and security.
Gaps do remain and the civil society monitoring report offers recommendations. These include having the government dedicate resources (both human resources and programming resources) by all relevant departments to ensure effective implementation of the NAP, having the government report not only on achievements to date but identifying targets, project achievements and an analysis of challenges in addition having a plan in place to engage with Canadian civil society on its implementation.