European & International News

European Parliament’s Women’s Rights Committee calls for more women in peacekeeping operations

[European Parliament, Brussels, 23 November 2011] The EU and Member States should increase the number of women in military and civilian peacekeeping operations, especially in leadership positions, through national campaigns promoting military and police forces as a viable job option for women as well as men, says the Women’s Rights Committee on Tuesday, voting a report on the situation of women in war.

Other options are to promote women-friendly policies within the military, such as maternity leave, and also role models such as courageous women bringing about change with their actions. Women as intercultural mediators also communicate better with local women, says the text adopted on Tuesday (22 November) by 25 votes in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions.

Norica Nicolai (ALDE, RO) who drafted the own-initiative report on women’s situation in war believes firmly in the need to include more women in the prevention, mediation and resolution of conflicts.

Women on board

The committee says that the EU should support peace processes only when women participate in international teams leading peace negotiations and calls for adequate EU funding to support women’s effective participation and contribution in representative institutions at national and local level and at all decision-making levels in conflict resolution, peace negotiations, peace-building and post-conflict planning.

MEPs point out that peace-keeping missions have proved to be crucial in introducing a gender perspective in prevention, demobilisation and post-conflict reconstruction and where more women are engaged in peace negotiations, more areas for reconstruction and peace consolidation are addressed such as health clinics and accessible schools.

Although the number of women in representative institutions has grown, women’s participation in peace negotiations remains, with few exceptions, below 10% of those formally involved according to a Ten-year Impact Study on Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 published in 2010.

Sexual violence as weapon of war

The Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee strongly condemns the use of sexual violence against women as a weapon of war. This kind of violence should be viewed as a war crime, it says. As perpetrators of sexual violence continue to go unpunished, MEPs call for an end to their impunity.

Special EU Representative on Women, Peace and Security

Within the European External Action Service (EEAS), a Special EU Representative on Women, Peace and Security should be created to mainstream the gender perspective and all relevant EU policies, task forces and units/focal points dealing with gender and security should be under the Special EU Representative’s coordination to ensure coherence and efficiency, adds the text.

Code of conduct against sexual exploitation by EU personnel

A code of conduct for EU personnel in military and civil missions should be established to make it clear that sexual exploitation constitutes unjustifiable and criminal behaviour and should be strictly enforced in cases of sexual violence perpetrated by humanitarian staff, representatives of international institutions, peacekeeping forces and diplomats through severe administrative and criminal penalties. MEPs call for zero tolerance for the sexual exploitation of children and women in armed conflicts and refugee camps.

Next steps

The vote in plenary is scheduled for 1 February 2012

In the chair: Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL, SE)

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