Report to Parliament
We are proud to report on the progress made over the last 12 months in delivering the Government’s commitments under the UK’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) 2014–2017. As this report makes clear, the UK continues to lead the world on this agenda, through practical action, political lobbying and funding.
At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, the Department for International Development successfully lobbied to put gender equality at the heart of 21st century humanitarian action. We welcome the widespread agreement at the Summit that the interest and needs of women and girls must be at the forefront of any humanitarian response. The UK endorsed all of the UN’s Core Commitments on Women and Girls and made further individual commitments to support their implementation, including by working to empower women and girls as leaders and to ensure that the UK’s humanitarian programming is fully gender responsive.
In September, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial. The Ministerial, a follow-up to the Leaders’ Summit in New York in September 2015, met its core objectives. In addition to 30 new pledges of personnel and equipment and agreement to improved performance and accountability for UN peacekeepers, the meeting broke new ground on the WPS agenda, resulting in a set of ambitious targets for increasing the number of women in peacekeeping roles.
We have continued to champion women’s participation as well as action against conflict-related sexual violence in the UN Security Council and to press for UN peacekeeping operations to reflect these priorities, including in Mali and the Central African Republic. At the UN General Assembly in September we launched the next phase of a campaign to end the stigmatisation of sexual violence survivors.
We are encouraged by the international support we have received so far. We have made a difference in our project work. In Colombia, for example we provided diplomatic, financial and technical assistance to ensure that once the peace agreement is finalised, it is sustainable. In so doing, we have promoted and supported the involvement of women in the negotiations. In Syria, we supported the efforts of the UN Special Envoy and the Women’s Advisory Board to help to ensure women’s views are represented in the peace process. We have also provided political and technical support to the opposition HNC Women’s Consultative Committee.
Our international achievements are matched by our domestic progress. Over the last 12 months we have worked: to open military combat roles to women; update our military doctrine to reflect WPS; and increase the number of military gender advisers ready for deployment. We continue to provide world class training to foreign militaries in gender and preventing sexual violence. We have also trained 1,110 UK government officials on gender in conflict. Our policy overseas must be matched by best practice at home.
Of course, challenges remain. Despite our best efforts, too often the Security Council omits to consider women and girls. As a result, women continue to be marginalised in peace or post-conflict processes; excluded from negotiations or neglected by UN peacekeeping operations. We recognise that there is still much work ahead. But we remain steadfast in our commitment to put women and girls at the centre of international peace and security efforts.