This report sets out the cross-Government action that the UK has taken to improve gender equality, tackle sexual violence in conflict, and protect vulnerable people in conflict zones from sexual exploitation and abuse.
We are proud that the UK continues to lead the world on the Women, Peace and Security agenda, delivering on our commitments under our National Action Plan through practical support, diplomatic action, and funding.
Our action to improve gender equality takes a number of forms. A key aspect of it has been promoting the participation of women in political processes and in mediation roles, for example we have supported women’s participation in the Syrian, Somalian and Colombian Peace Processes. Since February, the FCO’s first ever Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper, has also been leading work to deliver the Foreign Secretary’s vision of a foreign policy that consciously and consistently delivers for women and girls.
Another aspect has been our ongoing work to protect vulnerable people by improving peacekeeping. Over the last three years the MOD has delivered pre-deployment training on gender and international humanitarian law to more than 7,000 peacekeepers from African countries annually. At the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London in 2016, the UK recognised the indispensable role of women in peacekeeping, and we have continued to work with countries from across the world to increase the number of women deployed to peacekeeping missions.
In partnership with the Canadian and Bangladeshi Chiefs of Defence, the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger launched the new WPS Chiefs of Defence Staff Network at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver in November 2017. The network aims to promote the integration of gender perspectives into military planning and operations, and to improve the participation of women in armed forces and peacekeeping. These aims are reflected in the practices the UK armed forces are already adopting.
The importance of our work on gender is referenced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It is also evident in ongoing work to incorporate gender perspectives into National Security country strategies on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, gender perspectives are included in the design phase of all development programmes and all Conflict, Stability and Security Fund projects.
The Government’s pioneering Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) continues to support survivors of sexual violence in conflict around the world and to deliver justice for the crimes they have suffered. At the UN General Assembly in September, we launched the Principles for Global Action on tackling the stigma of Sexual Violence in Conflict as part of our #EndStigma campaign. DFID’s wider work to prevent and address Violence Against Women and Girls includes specific activity on tackling all forms of violence in conflict and emergency situations including intimate partner violence.
As part of this agenda we are funding ground-breaking research to generate new evidence on what works to inform UK and international efforts.
We are also taking action to tackle Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) of adults and children in conflict areas, recognising that these despicable crimes are committed not only by peacekeepers but also by civilians within the agencies and organisations sent to protect the vulnerable. In September the Prime Minister joined the UN Secretary General’s Circle of Leadership, which was set up to rid UN peacekeeping operations and agencies of sexual exploitation and abuse. As a sign of our resolve, we have made the UK’s future core funding to UN and other development and humanitarian agencies dependent on a zero-tolerance approach to this issue.
Our three Departments have worked closely together with the Stabilisation Unit to deliver the outcomes of the NAP over the last three years. Many of the achievements described in this report have been made possible by the collaboration of other governments, international organisations and civil society groups. We take this opportunity to thank all our international partners for their continuing co-operation and support.
Looking ahead, it is clear that there is still a great deal to do. Women continue to be marginalised from post-conflict political settlements, excluded from negotiations and underrepresented in UN peacekeeping operations. Too often the needs of women in humanitarian situations are overlooked.
In short, the promise of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 remains unfulfilled. We remain steadfast in our commitment to that resolution and subsequent resolutions. We must stay the course and continue to put women and girls at the centre of international peace and security efforts. This commitment is reflected in the next National Action Plan which sets out Government’s WPS agenda up to 2022. The importance of our work on gender is referenced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It is also evident in ongoing work to incorporate gender perspectives into