The global security policy community suffers greatly from a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion. In arms-control negotiations women make up less than a third of delegations and rarely occupy positions of influence.
In this Pulse, we celebrate International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament on 24 May, by asking APLN members Sadia Tasleem, Ayaka Shiomura, and Angela Woodward what can be done to promote opportunities for women in the security field. They also share lessons from their careers for younger women on peace and disarmament and give their view on how to more effectively implement the UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace, and Security agenda, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.
Lecturer at Quaid-i-Azam University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The struggle for nuclear disarmament, like the struggle to make this world an equal and peaceful place for all, is a struggle against a deep-seated status quo. The evident relationship between nuclear disarmament and the goals set forth in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 make it especially important for us as women scholars to articulate this relationship in an accessible form and create awareness about it. This will help us promote both the effective implementation of the UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security agenda and the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
At the individual level, we as women scholars and activists need first and foremost to free ourselves from the urge to imitate men for the sake of fitting in. We can make unique contributions by recognizing our innate potentialities to create, build and preserve. In my experience of working in the field of international security I have learnt that we can create our own ‘Imaginary’ and build space for conversation by expressing empathy while also maintaining uncompromising perseverance.
At the community level, we need to organize special teach-ins to create awareness about the WPS agenda of the UNSCR 1325, the consequences of nuclear weapons possession for women, and the important role that women can play in mobilizing people and participating in policy debates. This will help create communities of practice that share the vision of an equal and peaceful world.
As for the APLN community, we can work toward creating caucuses of women that share the aspirations articulated in the WPS agenda. Such caucuses can then work on preparing and proposing national action plans to further the WPS agenda in their respective countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Member of the House of Councillors and former member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly.
Achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls was specified in Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 and has the SDGs at its core. It is a welcome development that the movement to “mainstream“ gender issues and ensure gender equality and gender perspectives in the international community is accelerating.
Japan supports the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, adopted by the UN in 2000, and in 2015, Japan formulated an Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. It is in line with the times that the Second Action Plan, revised in 2019, includes, among other things, ensuring women’s participation in decision-making for conflict prevention, as well as in disaster recovery and disaster management support projects. For 28 years, Japan has also submitted a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly regarding the elimination of nuclear weapons. It notes that “efforts to encompass different generations, areas of the world and genders in disarmament and non-proliferation education underscore efforts and create momentum towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons.”
There is also growing momentum for gender mainstreaming in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. In particular, the full and equal participation of women in decision-making processes on disarmament and international security, which UN Secretary-General Guterres called for in 2018 when he announced his Disarmament Agenda, is a prime example, and I strongly support the growing recognition that decisions in this area should not be taken solely by men.
As a second-generation A-bomb survivor from Hiroshima, I believe that Japan should continue to promote disarmament efforts that focus on gender mainstreaming. In addition, the participation of women in the field of peace, security, disarmament, and non-proliferation can be furthered by increasing the number of women in conference bodies and establishing a platform that amplifies women’s voices.
Deputy Executive Director of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre, New Zealand.
Recent analysis by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and think tanks on the state of gender equality in the international security sector has revealed what had been quietly acknowledged but not previously quantified or challenged: that women are woefully underrepresented in peace and security diplomacy. Over twenty years after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, women still hold lower-ranking positions than their male counterparts or are left out altogether of many state’s delegations to arms control and disarmament treaty meetings.
Greater diversity leads to improved decision-making, as more perspectives are brought to bear on the issue at hand. Improving gender diversity in arms control and disarmament diplomacy can be expected to improve the quality of decision-making and encourage greater acceptance of gender perspectives in the arms control and disarmament discourse.
Achieving greater gender diversity will require institutional change in foreign ministries to better support women diplomats working in the multilateral, international security track, as well as structural change in the way diplomacy is conducted. Frequent travel and late-night meetings are barriers to participation for anyone with family and care responsibilities at home. The conduct of diplomacy necessarily adapted to meet challenges posed by COVID-19, and it must do so again to rectify the inequity of gender imbalance in this field which deliberates on issues of global, potentially catastrophic, consequence.