The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is an ambitious set of eight global targets for development and poverty reduction that 192 United Nations Member States and international organisations have agreed to achieve by 2015. Recognised as the foremost global policy instrument for poverty reduction, the targets include eradicating poverty, decreasing maternal and child mortality, fighting disease, and advancing gender equality. United Nations Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325, outlines specific policy measures to strengthen the inclusion of women┐s perspectives in conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building. It advocates for:
- participation of women at all levels of decision-making;
- protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence; and
- prevention of violence against women through the promotion of women┐s rights, accountability, and law enforcement.
Violence against women is the single greatest impediment to Development and Peace
Sexual and gender-based violence is exacerbated by conflict and prevents women from participating in development, denies them access to education and healthcare, and is a key risk factor in contracting HIV and AIDS. Until women in conflict-affected settings have a basic level of security, protection of rights, and access to justice, there can be no progress on Gender and MDG commitments.
Economic Empowerment is key to women┐s recovery from conflict
Women┐s economic empowerment is an essential element for reconstruction and peace building as it helps to promote social reintegration and reconciliation in conflict-affected communities. ┐Income-generation schemes in post-conflict zones have given greater autonomy to women. It allows them to say no to harmful cultural practices practised against widows and to say no to husbands that beat them, because it confers a greater degree of economic independence,┐ says Sylvia Nassiem from the Central African Republic. The main obstacle to women┐s economic empowerment is the lack of security both inside and outside the home. Other obstacles are the lack of opportunities to market goods, limited movement outside the home due to cultural attitudes and a lack of social protection when work is not possible.
Women continue to be left out of formal peace processes
The continued marginalisation of women in formal peace processes is a huge impediment to sustainable development, democracy and lasting peace. ┐Women are imprisoned by poverty, because they are not part of peace-building processes, national politics, and their voice is absent from every part of society,┐ says Elysee Yohali. In spite of their contributions to community reconciliation and peace, women are chronically under-represented in security, justice, and public sectors, which all play a key role in peace building.
We plead the International community to integrate these recommendations into the Post-2015
agenda and thereby promote Women Empowerment and Peace Building in the world:
Gender Equality in Education
┐ Remove key barriers to girls┐ education by providing scholarships, cash transfers, and eliminating user fees.
┐ Track attendance and completion of school, in addition to enrolment. Girls often drop out or fail to attend for reasons such as distance from home, lack of or poor sanitary facilities, and class size.
┐ Plan a program of quality education at National level to allow a system-wide focus on gender-based violence, pvision of life skills education, improving safety and security.
Gender Equality at the Heart of its Decent Work Agenda
┐ Make the generation of Productive Employment and the creation of Decent Work and Income the primary goal of macroeconomic, social, and development policies, promote skills development and employment opportunities at international and national levels.
┐ Reduce wage gaps between women and men; introduce social protection measures and labour laws and policies that are gender-responsive; Introduce and enforce legal protections for the most vulnerable women workers.
┐ Efforts to expand cost-sharing maternity protection (both income compensation and medical subsidies for maternity) and affordable, good quality childcare, including community-based facilities.
┐ Promote initiatives that equip women with the skills and resources to run businesses and be employed, enable women to own land and access credit, and facilitate saving.
Gender Equality in Political Representation
┐ Introduce positive action to improve the number of and influence of women in all political decision-making, including by investing in women┐s leadership in local decision-making structures and by creating a level playing field for men and women within political parties.
┐ Create an enabling environment for women to participate in peace-building processes that encourage their participation in political processes that emerge as conflict-affected countries stabilise.