[Brussels, 1 September 2015] Did you know that 40% of all child soldiers are girls? They are often used as ’wives’ (i.e. sex slaves) of the male combatants (War Child, 2014). Did you know that in contemporary conflicts, as much as 90 percent of casualties are among civilians, most of whom are women and children? that of the 14 peace negotiations held under UN auspices in 2011, only four women participated in negotiation teams?
In August, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) focuses on Women and Armed Conflict, as part of its Beijing+20 campaign. Read and share EWL’s factsheet on Women and Armed Conflict, which is part of EWL report “From words to action” and comprises of our key demands to the European Union and the Member States.
All our members mobilise throughout Europe to make 2015 a critical year towards the realisation of all commitments of the Beijing Platform for Action. Women and girls rights cannot wait 20 more years to enjoy their full women’s rights! At all levels, you can take action. Contact our member organisations, join us by following us on social media, disseminating our factsheets and report, coming to our events and the activities of our members if you can!
Women and armed conflict in Europe
Conflict, war and militarism are gendered processes. They use, maintain and often promote the traditional ideological construction of “masculinity” and “femininity”: men go to war to defend or promote national/state values, territories and borders, and protect their ‘own’ women and children. Women are considered passive, and are the targets of intolerable acts of violence, as a strategy of war. Their multiple and diverse roles in conflict are hidden, poorly understood and, at times, consciously or unconsciously dismissed. In this context, women are not regarded as equal actors in peace building and democratic development; they are not allowed equal participation in the enforcement of rights and justice, and the creation of human security for all.
The absence of women and their perspectives in peace negotiations, post-conflict reconstruction, disarmament, humanitarian relief and peace building, means the absence of sustainable peace and any chance of obtaining human security. But more importantly, the persistence of wars and conflicts prevent from the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. It is time to redefine sustainable peace as the presence of human security, justice and equality, rather than the absence of war.
EWL demands - A culture of peace and respect for women’s human rights.
Improve gender balance at decision-making levels of the European External Action Service.
- Appoint a gender focal point in all EU delegations and all Common Security and Defence Policy missions.
- Adopt a binding “Code of Conduct” on the standards of conduct of military and civilian peacekeeping and humanitarian national and EU staff while on mission in areas of armed conflict. Such codes should include an unequivocal condemnation of all forms violence against women, including prostitution and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
- Place women’s human rights at the core of donor policies for reconstruction and development; and invest in women’s organisations as a means of conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.
- Guarantee access to justice (including transitional) for all women, as well as access to reproductive and sexual health services and support programmes, including for women victims of sexual violence.
- The EU and its member states: cease to promote this culture of increasing militarisation and redirect their military first budgets towards gender-aware budgets that consider the multiple needs of women and address gender equality as a priority.
- The EU and its member states: grant asylum to women who flee their country by recognising sexual violence and gender-based violence as legitimate grounds for asylum.
Find out more about our member organisations and partners dedicated to the support and empowerment of women’s human rights in conflict: Global Justice Centre, Women in International Security (WIIS) and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).