Celebrating Ten Years of UNSCR 1325: The Case of Kenya
By Karambu Ringera (PhD)
Kenyan women remain largely excluded from peace and security processes despite their efforts in preserving social order and educating for peace at the grassroots; lobbying and advocacy for the equitable distribution of resources at the national level and despite international policies which explicitly call for women’s involvement in decision making at national and international levels. This marginalization hinders efforts to build sustainable peace and stable communities in Kenya. Moreover, when women are excluded, the differential impact of the decisions on men and women is not fully understood, women’s rights are not overtly addressed while their recommendations are excluded from final agreements.
Ten years ago, United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) 1325 was passed. Today, it is shocking to realize that very many people in Kenya are unaware of its existence. But even more critical, there has been no effort from the government and other peacebuilding actors to integrate it into our laws and to guide inclusion of women in peace processes in our country.
Kenya experienced post election violence in 2008. Kofi Annan was invited to lead the mediation process. His intervention created some recommendations, including what has come to be known as Agenda Four, a set of actions and reforms that the government was required to undertake in a process geared toward creating mechanisms of accountability, democracy and rule of law in Kenya. The Kofi Annan team of mediators had only two women, both affiliated to political party systems. There was no civil society representation at all. The process is therefore regarded by many as exclusive because it addressed policy level needs and overlooked the root causes of the conflict. Many voices were also not represented at the negotiation table.
Research has shown that peace processes with increased women's involvement are more sustainable. On March 22nd - 23rd 2010, 35 Kenyan civil society and political women met to reflect on lessons learnt on women's participation during the Kofi Annan led mediation process of February 2008. This was a research project investigating women's participation in the Kenyan Mediation Process. The round table and research concluded that there is need for increased training on United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) 1325 for Kenyan women to ensure they understand issues relating to peace, security and conflict as they impact women. With such understanding, women will be able to actively participate in conflict prevention, protection and other peace and security processes especially with regard to Agenda Four. Some of the main lessons learnt from this research and round table form the basis of initiating the Training of Trainers (TOTS) on UNSCR 1325 by the Women Waging Peace Trainers in Kenya.
Excuses given for the exclusion of women are many. Culture: cultural norms where gender inequality and exclusion are embedded in local culture. On the other hand, women leaders are “elites” and not representative of the broad population. Other people say that since women are not involved in the fighting, they should not be involved in the peacemaking. Women sometimes show reluctance to engage directly in decision making and peace processes or succumb to pressure and withdraw due to a number of factors.
Ignorance: many women are not aware of the fact that it is their right to be included in decision making and peace processes. They do not know that there is an international legal framework that they can use to advocate for inclusion. Even where local laws and policies exist, many women are not aware of them and they therefore are not able to seek protection.
Socialization: Women are socialized to believe that leadership positions belong to men and women should only play supportive roles. This makes them shy away from such positions even when they are offered the opportunity. Others take up the positions but since they are women playing in a “man’s” world, they play by male rules. In order to survive in a very aggressive and difficult male dominated world they become conformists in order to survive and forget that they are there to advance the interests of all, including women.
Lack of capacity and agency: There are those who are aware that there is need for women’s inclusion and they have the passion to do it but lack the skills. This therefore calls for strengthening of women’s advocacy skills since it is not enough for them to know they need to be included but also how to claim space at the decision making tables.
Building alliances: Another challenge is how to overcome resistance from men who do not understand the need for inclusion of women but instead perceive it as a threat. Women therefore need to learn how to build male allies in addition to building coalitions so that the critical mass needed to build and attain change can be achieved
To overcome these obstacles, Women Waging Peace-Kenya (WWP-Kenya) is taking strategic action by leading a campaign to advance UNSCR 1325 - the international framework that calls for the inclusion of women in peace and security processes.
Women Waging Peace-Kenya (WWP-Kenya) is a consortium of five Kenyan women peace activists belonging to peace organizations based in or working in Kenya. They are: International Peace Initiatives, El Taller, Amani Communities Africa, Pax Christi Horn of Africa and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. These women are demonstrated leaders in the NGO sector and in academia. They have experience ranging 5-20 years in research; project management; women, peace and security; communication for change; nonviolence; law; gender; human rights; media; monitoring and evaluation; strategic management and peace building. With varied backgrounds, perspectives and skills, they offer expertise and fresh perspectives for the peace building process in Kenya.
WWP-Kenya believes that ssustainable and durable peace will not be achieved without the full and equal participation of women and men. Sustainable peace requires the participation of women and girls as well as the integration of gender and human rights perspectives in all peace building, peacekeeping, peacemaking efforts and reconstruction processes. WWP-Kenya calls for increased inclusion of women in all peace and security processes in Africa in general and in Kenya specifically.
As women peace builders, our action is geared towards taking the lead by publicizing UNSCR 1325 and calling for compliance by the state and implementing the resolution. We believe that if we sensitize and build capacity of policy makers and women activists to develop and adopt a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan (NAP), then we will ensure increased inclusion of women in all peace and security processes in Kenya.
We draw our mandate from the resolution as it officially endorses civil society groups, notably women, in peace and security processes. We shall use UNSCR 1325 as a policy tool to advance women’s participation in shaping Kenya’s peace and security agenda and as a framework to remind policy makers of their obligations as specified in the resolution and keep them attentive to issues of women, peace and security.
The following actions are required of the government:
Promote Participation of women in decision making and peace processes
Government to promote and support women’s active and meaningful participation in all peace processes as well as their representation in formal and informal decision-making at all levels; improve partnership and networking with local and international women’s rights groups and organizations; recruit and appoint women to senior positions in the United Nations, including Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, and in peacekeeping forces, including military, police and civilian personnel.
The call for more women provides new opportunities for qualified women to enter into positions hitherto dominated by men.
Integration of gender and human rights perspectives and training in peacekeeping
Government to mainstream a gender and human rights perspective into all conflict prevention activities and strategies, develop effective gender-sensitive early warning mechanisms and institutions, and strengthen efforts to prevent violence against women, including various forms of gender-based violence.
A clear endorsement of gender and human rights training for peace keepers and civilian personnel in peace support operations. Urge government to increase its financial, technical and logistical support for gender and human rights sensitive training efforts.
The protection of women
Government to strengthen and amplify efforts to secure the safety, physical or mental health, well-being, economic security and/or dignity of women and girls; promote and safeguard human rights of women and mainstream a gender and human rights perspective in the legal and institutional reforms.
All actors in conflict transformation initiatives be required to ensure they uphold, promote and safeguard the security of women and be accountable for violations against women in their interventions. Calls on government to end impunity through prosecution of genocide and crimes against humanity, including sexual and other forms of violence against women and to exclude sexual and gender based crimes from amnesty provisions.
Government to mainstream gender in the UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan and commit human and financial resources towards implementation.
The innovation approach
Using the Inclusive Security: Curriculum for Women Waging Peace by the Institute for Inclusive Security (IIS), we shall design and initiate training and education programmes on UNSCR 1325 for policy makers including line ministries, branches and commissions of government and, departments and offices including members of the military establishment, the security forces, the police and the judiciary.
Take UNSCR 1325 to the village through a series of training of trainers (TOT) trainings at the provincial, district, location, and sub-location levels. Provincial TOT’s will train District TOT’s who will in turn train Location TOT’s who will then train at Sub- Location level and in the villages. The goal is to create awareness and ownership of UNSCR 1325 from the top to the bottom. We believe this approach will empower communities to effectively participate in peacebuilding and security matters..
Develop a communication campaign utilising various forms of media - print, radio, TV, theatre, drama, song - to inform the public on UNSCR 1325 and generate support among journalists covering the campaign.
Build alliances between women in civil society, government, parliament, business, media, and disciplined forces and create a cross-sectoral monitoring plan that will ensure UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan is implemented.
Demystify security from state to human security thus placing human beings and not the state at the centre of security concerns.
Employ a participatory and empowerment approach that enables people to be agents of their own security and peace.
Success of Innovation
Partnerships: WWP-Kenya is a consortium of five 5 Kenyan women experts belonging to peace organizations based in or working in Kenya: International Peace Initiatives, El Taller, Amani Communities Africa, Pax Christi Horn of Africa and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. These women are demonstrated leaders in the NGO sector and in academia. They have experience ranging 5-20 years in research; project management; women, peace and security; communication for change; nonviolence; law; gender; human rights; media; monitoring and evaluation; strategic management and peace building. With varied backgrounds, perspectives and skills, they offer expertise and fresh perspectives for the peacemaking process in Kenya.
This campaign is founded on the lessons learnt over the years during training, education and advocacy to build capacities of hundreds of community mediators, conflict resolvers and peace builders who have in turn become more effective change agents. We have successfully linked grassroots activism to international and national legal frame works and discourse, in appreciation of the need for multilevel approaches to building sustainable global peace and security.
We have responded to the increasing need for inclusive peace and security that fully appreciates and embraces the unique perspectives and strengths women bring to the peace negotiating tables at all levels of society. In particular reference to Kenya, we have built the capacity of local women leaders in transitional justice and reform processes for their effective participation in the democratization and post conflict peace building initiatives currently taking place in Kenya. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 has been one of our key training and advocacy tools. The campaign will therefore squarely fit into our existing programming and will indeed increase the value and impact thereof.
In addition we support peace, social justice, economic independence, and environmental sustainability and promote alternative approaches of dealing with conflict throughout Africa, through, nonviolence and peace education. To do this, we create opportunities for women and young people to develop nonviolence, proactive peace-building, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and support them to become effectively engaged in local, regional and national issues. WWP-Kenya has held several initiatives to promote the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, including programs to promote nonviolence as a way of life in Africa
Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325 it has become clear that women and women’s organizations and civil society networks are an important facet in making peace-building more effective and sustainable in local set-ups. Through partnerships, women’s networks and coalitions are positioning themselves to effectively channel multiple voices and concerns to the highest levels of Government and international agents. Taking lessons from women’s peacemaking initiatives that have transformed Liberia, Rwanda and Uganda, women from other parts of Africa are taking on more and more leadership in agitating for an end to violence against women and children in times of war and peace as well as demanding the respect for women’s human rights in general, in their countries. Moreover, women are undertaking a proactive approach to security and peacebuilding because they have found that the consequences of violence are very costly.