Women peace and security: Toward a full women inclusion

By : Ruby Kholifah is the secretary-general of the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia

This year marks the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (WPS). Some achievements have been made since the resolution was adopted, including global recognition of the important role of women in community-based peacebuilding, conflict mediation and reconciliation.

However, some still hesitate to acknowledge women in formal roles for conflict resolution. The shortcomings in three areas bar greater support for women’s achievements in this issue: The first is the lack of recognition of female peacebuilders’ contributions, the second the cultural bias against female leadership, and the third is the absence of implementing regulations for a national WPS action plan.

These three areas were identified at the National Digital Consultation on Reviewing the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in Indonesia, which was hosted by the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia in collaboration with the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister from July 20 to Aug. 31, 2020.

The forum involved more than 200 representatives of civil society organizations across 24 provinces.

These issues were also highlighted in the 2020 Report of the UN Secretary-General, which concluded that the primary cause of the lack of progress in the equal, full and meaningful participation of women was the absence of political will, particularly from parties in conflict. The parties have yet to fully understand the global commitments enshrined in the WPS agenda across all stages of peace processes.

In addition, a 2020 UNSC report analyzes the political climate surrounding the WPS debate in the council, which has become more contentious and less conducive to moving the agenda forward. In the Indonesian context, Presidential Decree No. 18/2014 on the National Action Plan on the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Children in Social Conflict (NAP WPS) has been acknowledged by women-led organizations as the only legal instrument to advocate for the recognition and protection of women peacebuilders and the rights of victims of gender-based violence in conflict settings. In the last five years, the government has been more gender-sensitive in handling social conflicts.

However, there are also some gaps when it comes to implementation, including the lack of capacity among local governments and nongovernmental actors, ineffective coordination, unclear partnership and less funding for implementing the NAP WPS. Other issues include the inconsistent application of a transitional justice and reconciliation approach in response to conflict resolution, and difficulties accessing truth, justice, counseling and rehabilitation facilities.

Globally, there are 85 national and 55 local WPS action plans in 16 countries. Unfortunately, only 24 percent of these national action plans include an implementation budget.

Another issue is about female representation. The PA-X Peace Agreements Database (2020) found that peace agreements containing provisions on gender equality have increased from 14 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2019. However, women’s political participation remains below 30 percent.

A more pressing issue is the fact that in conflict-affected countries, women’s participation in politics stands at just 18.9 percent, which has adversely impacted recognition of and protection for women peacebuilders.

Two decades after UNSC Resolution 1325 was adopted, it is now time for Indonesia to transform its agenda to build a more sustainable peace process that values women peacebuilders.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for national and international communities. During this challenging time, we are witnessing the rise of narrow nationalism and attacks on multilateralism. There is an urgent need to build more equal and inclusive societies in which women peacebuilders are recognized and protected from irresponsible actors.

Over the next 10 years, Indonesia should invest in three transformative items on its WPS agenda. First, the inclusion of women must be full, equal and meaningful. Women’s participation is a nonnegotiable political priority that needs to be addressed and recognized.

We need to strengthen women’s “politics of presence” in the decision-making process. Appreciating their work, expanding partnerships with diverse women’s networks, and modernizing the collection of data on women’s participation in the peace process are all needed.

Second, an effective and strong institution is needed to implement the NAP WPS. This institution should be responsible for updating and upgrading the WPS framework and all relevant skills. The second-phase implementation of the NAP WPS must have clear guidance on coordination and consolidation, partnerships among multiple stakeholders, and adequate and predictable financing for localized implementation of the NAP WPS.

Third, preventing violent extremism through the WPS lens is a must in this second phase, especially when dealing with the rise of extremism and gender-based violence in post-conflict scenarios. UNSC Resolution 2242 on WPS, adopted in 2015, confirms that participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations as well as integration of gender issues must be included as crosscutting issues in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism.


The article was published in Jakarta Post on October 31, 2020