By Hannah Brady
This paper will show that approaching issues of security from a feminist perspective is essential to states achieving security taking into account the number of women and children affected by conflict globally.
The discipline of international relations has changed dramatically since its creation in 1919 and this is also true of the nature of war and those it affects. In WWI 80% of individuals who perished were soldiers, compared with today’s conflicts globally where 90% of those who are perishing are civilians, mainly women and children (Pettman J 1996, p.89). Although the feminism movement has become more mainstream today, at the time that the term “international relations” was created women had very little to do with decision making in global politics (Heywood A 2011, pp. 412-431). Excluding half of the population has consequences and these are being talked about and dealt with in today’s political climate.
The UN Security Council (SCR) recognised feminist activism with the resolution 1325 in October 2000. The resolution acknowledges the role women play in international peace and security (Hudson N 2010, p.44). This was a turning point in the UN as it was the first time they unanimously agreed on a gender issue (Hudson N 2010, p.45). The result of UNSCR 1325 can be seen around the world and in 2009 it had been translated into 95 languages further showing the importance this resolution is playing globally (Hudson N 2010, p. 45). SCR 1325 is concerned with promoting and protecting women so they can contribute to peace and security (Hudson N 2010, p. 45). Each October since the resolution was enacted there has been discussions held on the anniversary to document progress and implementation of the resolution. In 2008 the Assistant Secretary General and Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Ms Rachel Mayanja stated, “it is our duty and indeed, our obligation to millions of women in conflict areas to use the opportunity offered by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) to set in motion perhaps one of the most promising approaches to conflict resolution of this new century – a comprehensive approach based on inclusive values and gender equality” (Hudson N 2010, p. 47). Opposition of the UNSCR 1325 that work within the UN argue that security and gender or feminism are not compatible in achieving peace and security globally. However, in recent conflicts the effect of not recognising women’s roles in conflict have had disastrous results. One example of this was the case in Bosnia where it is estimated that 20 000-35 000 women were victims of rape as a weapon of war between 1991-1995 (Pettman J.J 1996, pp. 87-106). Although this resolution is a way forward there is more that can be done for those women on the ground in conflict zones. There is no governing body that deals directly with the human rights atrocities that can occur towards women in conflict zones (Hudson N 2010, p. 52).