Report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security (S/2021/827) [EN/AR/RU/ZH]


I. Introduction

1. The present report is prepared pursuant to the presidential statement dated 26 October 2010 (S/PRST/2010/22), in which the Security Council requested annual reports on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000); resolution 2122 (2013), which called for updates of progress across all areas of the women, peace and security agenda, highlighting gaps and challenges; and resolution 2493 (2019), which called for reinforced measures to implement the agenda in full. It follows up on the Secretary-General’s directives to the United Nations and the five goals for the decade laid out in the reports of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security from 2019 and 2020, paying special attention to the goal of reversing the upward trajectory in global military spending with a view to encouraging greater investment in the social infrastructure and services that buttress human security.

2. In October 2020, the international community commemorated the twentieth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security in hundreds of mostly virtual events throughout the world. By then, the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on both international peace and security and on gender equality was already devastating and projected to worsen. A year later, these forecasts have largely been proven right. For example, 100 million people now experience food insecurity because of conflict, compared with 77 million only a year ago. By the end of 2020 the number of people forcibly displaced owing to conflict, humanitarian crises, persecution, violence and human rights violations had grown to 82.4 million, the highest number on record and more than double the level of a decade ago.

3. Meanwhile, even though the response to the COVID-19 pandemic added to the evidence of the effectiveness of women’s leadership at the highest levels, women continued to be underrepresented in that response and in other decision-making forums, pushed out of the workforce and subjected to a surge of violence across the world as soon as lock-downs and quarantines were put into effect. This marginalization has a negative impact on crisis prevention and recovery and on international peace and security in general. Nearly a hundred studies indicate some type of link between sex and gender inequality and violent outcomes.

4. The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has attracted much of the world’s attention. But in the months leading up to it, the United Nations had already documented a record number of women killed in the country in 2020, including civil society activists and journalists, and the targeting of academics, vaccinators and even women judges in the Supreme Court. And yet, Afghan women were not included among the negotiators with the Taliban in 2020. When delegates representin g the Taliban and the Government of Afghanistan met in Moscow in March 2021 to discuss the peace negotiations, there was only one woman among them. This juxtaposition of violence targeting women and their rights, on the one hand, and their extreme marginalization and exclusion, on the other, still encapsulates the women and peace and security agenda in 2021.

5. Other examples of shortcomings are included in the present report, which is informed by data and analysis provided by entities of the United Nations system, including peace operations and United Nations country teams; input from Member States, regional organizations and civil society; and analysis of other globally recognized data sources. Some examples include:

(a) In 2020, women represented only 23 per cent of delegates in peace processes led or co-led by the United Nations. Without measures adopted by the United Nations, this number would have been even lower;

(b) After a downward trend, the percentage of peace agreements with gender provisions has started to rise, but at 28.6 per cent the share remains well below the high of 37.1 per cent recorded in 2015. None of the ceasefire agreements reached between 2018 and 2020 included gender provisions;

(c) As at 31 December 2020, only 5.2 per cent of military troops in peace operations were women, which is below the 6.5 per cent target set by the United Nations for 2020;

(d) Only 42 per cent of the over 3,100 policy measures adopted throughout the world to respond to the social and economic consequences of COVID-19 can be considered gender-sensitive, and a similar proportion is found in conflict-affected countries;

(e) In countries that spend relatively more on the military as a share of government spending, pandemic-related measures to support the particular needs of women and girls during this crisis were significantly fewer;

(f) In humanitarian funding, sectors that address gender-based violence and reproductive health received only 33 and 43 per cent of requested funding, respectively, compared with average funding of 61 per cent for United Nations appeals overall;

(g) In conflict and post-conflict countries, women hold only 18.9 per cent of parliamentary seats, compared with 25.5 per cent globally, which itself is a figure that is still too low;

(h) Women’s representation in public administration in fragile and conflictaffected countries averages just 23 per cent, less than half of the average in all other countries;

(i) Women make up only one quarter of members among COVID-19 task forces examined across 36 conflict and post-conflict countries;

(j) Bilateral aid to women’s rights organizations and movements in fragile or conflict-affected countries remains strikingly low, well below 1 per cent, and has been stagnant since 2010.