When it Comes to Peacemaking, Where Are the Women?

Seeing that war impacts women significantly, it's interesting to wonder why haven't more women been a larger part of peace agreements.

Out of 585 peace agreements from 1990 to 2010, only 92 contained any references to women, and according to U.N. Women, this has got to change.

"Wherever there is conflict, women must be part of the solution," said Michelle Bachelet, the first director of the U.N. Women agency.

While Bachelet issued that statement in 2012, the facts and figures today prove that not much has changed. Here are some more stats on women's role in global peacemaking:

1. In 2014, half of all signed peace agreements included references to women, peace, and security.

2. Between 1992 and 2011, fewer than 4 percent of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10 percent of negotiators at peace tables were women.

3. Women's participation increases the probability of peace agreements lasting at least two years by 20 percent. It also increases the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years by 35 percent.

4. In conflict-affected countries, women's share of seats in parliament is four percentage points below the global average of 22 percent, and women occupy only 14.8 per cent of ministerial positions.

5. The percentage of U.N. field missions headed by women has fluctuated between 15 and 25 percent since 2011.

6. In the summer of 2014, six women ambassadors served on the U.N. Security Council, putting women's representation at an unprecedented 40 percent.

7. Only 13 percent of stories in the news media on peace- and security-related themes included women as the subject, and women were central to the story in only 6 percent of the cases. Only 4 percent of the stories portrayed women as leaders in conflict and post-conflict countries, and only 2 percent highlighted gender equality issues.

Nonetheless, these figures have only motivated groups to take action. In September, The League of Arab States and U.N. Women held the first ever ministerial conference on "Women and Achieving Peace and Security in the Arab Region." The two-day conference organized a regional strategy to help women's disproportionate suffering in times of conflict and called for "their engagement in peace and security processes and prioritizing them in humanitarian assistance."

"From this experience, we know for a fact that increasing women’s representation in such circles is not only their unnegotiable right, but also an added value of great importance at this critical stage of the region’s history," said Director of U.N. Women's Program Division, Maria-Noel Vaeza. The conference concluded with a game plan for financial resources and technical assistance to change women's roles in ending wars.

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