1. Executive Summary
In September 2016, the Peacebuilding Commission adopted a gender strategy to ensure a more structural and systematic integration of gender perspectives across its work, including in its country and region-specific engagements, thematic discussions and dialogues with other intergovernmental organizations. This was the first such strategy to be adopted by a UN intergovernmental subsidiary body and followed a series of consultations throughout 2015 and early 2016 with Member States, practitioners, experts and representatives of relevant entities of the United Nations system, as well as with civil society organizations. In the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its thirteenth session, issued in January 2020, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) called for a review report on the implementation of its gender strategy to be prepared in the context of the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
This review report was prepared by PBSO/DPPA and UN Women with support from an independent expert consultant. It complements consultations undertaken during the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the Commission’s commitments contained in the in the July 2020 letter to the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council, as well as to the SecretaryGeneral to: enhance the implementation of its gender strategy by more systematically including women and representatives of women’s groups in its meetings; streamline gender dimensions of peacebuilding in its country-specific and regional activities and within its analysis and advice to other UN intergovernmental bodies; support the creation, adoption and enforcement of legal frameworks that outlaw domestic violence and sexual and gender-based violence at large; and improve stocktaking of women peacebuilders' messages from the field, including by compiling and sharing good practices with PBC Member States on a regular basis.
A desktop review of PBC documents and interviews with Commission members, including those representing countries which engage with the PBC, DPPA/PBSO staff, and women peacebuilders, found noticeable progress in the overall support and promotion of the PBC Gender Strategy and for gender-responsive peacebuilding. However, this is most evident through statements of broad support and advocacy instead of from concrete gender analysis and specific priority areas or focus on gendered root causes of conflict and instability. The review report notes that PBC documents tend to refer to women as a homogenous group instead of there being recognition that women’s opportunities and experiences will vary depending on their ethnicity, religion, culture, age, ability/disability or gender identity.
It further found that while consultations with women’s organizations are regularly referenced, the information exchanged during these sessions is not systematically reported on or incorporated into future PBC meetings on that country or regional context or thematic discussion. The report also states that beyond highlighting PBF projects supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Commission has rarely advocated for strengthened gendered resourcing or expertise, which is one of the strategic actions outlined in the Gender Strategy.
Encouragingly, the review found that gender considerations across the PBC have improved in 2019 and 2020 and these have led, in some instances, to richer discussions informed by women peacebuilders and local women business leaders.
Identified recent good practices in the report include: strengthened gender references in the Commission’s advice to the Security Council on peace operation mandate renewals; the promotion of gender responsive peacebuilding approaches during meetings with International Financial Institutions; and the broadening of women peacebuilders who have been invited to engage with the Commission either in New York or during field missions to include women business leaders, ex-combatants and survivors of conflict related sexual violence. The upcoming dedicated Ambassadorial-level meeting on women, peacebuilding and development in the Great Lakes region, which is being informed by three regional consultations in which diverse women briefers have participated, was also considered as a new good practice which should be expanded upon. The report also noted that meetings held this year to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on peacebuilding efforts have contained more detailed gender references and analysis drawn in part from consultations will local women’s organizations.
The review report outlines three triangular key factors which were identified during the interviews which determine the quality of gender considerations by the PBC. These relate to:
The overall support and leadership from the PBC Chair, Vice-Chairs and Configuration Chairs;
The level of in-country gender expertise or availability of context-specific gender analysis drawn from UN Country Teams, peace operations, Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) projects or from the wider UN system; and
The receptiveness of national governments to embed gender peacebuilding priorities within their overarching development and peacebuilding plans.
Following the desk review, the interviews and an expert level meeting held on 4 September 2020, four key recommendations are proposed for PBC consideration to strengthen the systematic implementation of the gender strategy. These are:
1) Improved intersectional gender analysis as way of building on progress to date and moving towards more substantive gender discussions which address the gendered root causes of conflict and inform funding decisions where possible;
2) Regular monitoring and review of the gender strategy including through the development of a gender strategy action plan or monitoring and evaluation framework;
3) Strengthened and more diverse consultations with women leaders as part of thematic, country specific and regional discussions, to not only promote the participation of diverse women peacebuilders within PBC decision making processes but to also enrichen and broaden the perspectives being presented to PBC members, and to ensure the PBC’s gender responsive peacebuilding messages are informed by and reflect these engagements with women peacebuilders; and
4) Enhanced advocacy across the UN system including the Security Council and with Regional Organizations and International Financial Institutions to promote gender responsive peacebuilding as being among its key diplomatic priorities.