Pacific women launch Policy for Peace
A new report being launched today in Fiji is calling for a more central role for Pacific women in policy and decision making.
A new report in Fiji is calling for a more central role for Pacific women in policy and decision-making.
The executive director of FemLINK Pacific says the Policy for Peace report compiles the recommendations of Pacific women leaders for peace, security and gender parity.
Sharon Bhagwan Rolls says the policy initiative aligns these visions with international instruments such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
This resolution looks at the impact of war on women and recognises the important role women play in managing and resolving conflict and achieving sustainable peace.
She spoke with Koroi Hawkins.
SHARON BHAGWAN ROLLS: This has been part of our networks efforts way back in 2007 when we realised that in addition to our voice and visibility through our media initiative we also needed to start documenting our own policy recommendations as Pacific women to feed into global processes but also in terms of localising or making relevant what is being discussed on the global agenda. So this is almost the eighth or ninth publication for us and it is in terms of the global framework the global study having been part of the advisory group for Radhika Coomaraswamy who has authored the global study, but in terms of our own specific recommendations it is also looking at what we have just discussed. The achievements, the challenges, but also some clear recommendations in terms of enhancing participation in every level of decision making from the local level, local governance, village, provincial councils as well as national parliaments, but also in terms of national security policy issues. It is also about some of the unfinished issues in terms of demilitarisation. It is also in terms of looking forwards, so that as part of the process we also ensure that there is a diversity taken into account when we talk about peace and security.
KOROI HAWKINS: Now in terms of the review of 1325 from a Pacific perspective, what is working and what needs to change?
SBR: Well what has worked was that obviously we had some momentum following the 10th anniversary where we saw the UN system with regional inter-governmental organisations, both the SPC and the Pacific Islands Forum and women from our own network and other rights activists coming together for the development of the Pacific regional action plan. What hasn't worked is that while we had this high level adoption by forum leaders, while we had the engagement with the member states of the SPC which include the 22 Pacific Islands countries and territories, it has been very slow in terms of translating these regional commitments into national action. Although we have seen some integration for example into the Papua New Guinea National Security Plan. And I think in terms of that it is about how do we ensure that these types of partnerships, particularly with regional inter-governmental organisations, don't just get limited to formal meetings but that we are part of an ongoing engagement. I am hoping that as the forum comes out of its new approach following its review it will recognise that women will have to be part of the regional peace and security agenda. I think one of the other limitations is clearly the fact that in terms of development aid or resourcing there hasn't been specifically funds tagged for peace and security work. So even for our network, in the 15 years we have sustained the work but it has always been about how do we resource peace and security, how do we resource peace building. But particularly from a preventative perspective because that requires long term engagement and sustained work.
KH: For the average Pacific woman doing the garden, going to the market, selling fish by the sea, why should they care about these sort of agreements and policies?
SBR: They should really care because we need to ensure that at the end of the day every single one of our national budgets are taking our security into account. Not a militarised security perspective. So we need to care, we need to understand where are our national budgets going in terms of our security. Whether it is the street lights, whether it is the access to water, whether it is infrastructure like roads and communication. So that is one thing in terms of the national agenda. But very much at the local level, I think Pacific women everyday are working so hard to sustain, build peaceful communities to prevent conflicts. Yet we are not in those development processes which are closely linked to development plans that can enable them to say, no, if we take this approach there is a greater chance that we won't have the kind of conflicts that we are experiencing. Whether it is in our homes or whether it is in our communities or whether it is with another group. So women we should no longer say, yes we are just peace builders and that is it. We need to be actively involved in the decision making and whether that is in your home, whether that is in your village community, your local centre or whether it is in your local parliament, participation is so closely linked to peace.
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