Implementing Resolution 1325 in Liberia: Reflections of Women’s Associations

I co-authored this report on women, peace and security in Liberia in 2010 together with Ruth Gibson Caesar, Cerue Konah Garlo and Steven Schoofs.

‘Long before Resolution 1325 came into being, we were already doing 1325.’

With the launching of its Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2009, Liberia became the first post-conflict country with a National Action Plan (NAP) to implement Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The significance of the resolution is that it urges the international community and UN Member States to enhance women’s participation in peace processes. Liberia’s NAP is expected to sustain and enhance women’s peacebuilding efforts and take decisive steps towards gender equality and sustainable peace in Liberia. At the same time, women activists in Liberia are quick to point out that long before Resolution 1325 was adopted women’s activism played an important and visible role in bringing an end to Liberia’s civil war.

The direct involvement of women in peacebuilding activities raised awareness of their own capacities and potential to build a sustainable and peaceful society that is inclusive to women. As such, Liberia’s women’s organisations and networks embody a significant amount of practical peacebuilding knowledge and experience. In a sense, Liberia’s women’s organisations are leading the way with respect to working with Resolution 1325 within a challenging post-conflict environment. The question is whether, and to what extent, Resolution 1325 is strengthening or facilitating women’s peacebuilding efforts in Liberia.

Under the auspices of the Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP), International Alert conducted a relatively small study on women’s organisations in Liberia to address this question. The objective was to document what impact Resolution 1325 is having on the strategies and activities of women’s organisations. The primary focus of the research was to generate a tentative assessment of how and to what extent women’s organisations are utilising Resolution 1325 in their work and how the resolution is shaping their strategies and activities. The study was informed by a research framework that sought to document achievements, lessons learned and constraints across three areas of analysis:

1. Coordination, collaboration and networking between women’s organisations;

2. Activities and strategies of women’s organisations; and

3. Influence and impact of women’s organisations.

The research was conducted in August 2010 by a Monrovia-based research team, which consisted of two researchers and a research assistant, as well as two London-based staff members of Alert. The study gathered qualitative information from a broad spectrum of women’s civil society and community-based organisations, including youth, faith groups, rural women and peacebuilding organisations, legal and human rights institutions, and organisations involved in peacebuilding activities. Participants were both male and female. The methodology used for this study included key informant interviews, focus group discussions and a two-day workshop in Monrovia to discuss initial findings with representatives of women’s organisations. A comprehensive research report has been produced from which this briefing paper is drawn.

The main rationale for this study stems from the fact that Resolution 1325 is generally regarded as an important instrument for enhancing women’s participation in peacebuilding processes and has the potential to contribute to a more peaceful and inclusive society; however, women’s peacebuilding efforts remain insufficiently understood by international institutions and policymakers, which is further compounded by the fact that the evidence base with regard to the implementation of Resolution 1325 remains underdeveloped. The result is that there continues to be a gap between the realities women face in conflict-affected contexts and the perceptions of decision-makers in national, regional and international institutions. It is hoped that the findings of this study can make a modest contribution to bridging that gap.

You can read the rest of the report here.

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