Stakeholder Discussion on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) with the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
14 July 2023
“We prioritise inclusion because, women have a fundamental right to participate in peace and security; and because women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table – especially in gender divided societies.” These were the words of H.E. Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, as she officiated the Stakeholder discussion on Women, Peace & Security (WPS) – which was convened on the side-lines of the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting/Post-Ministerial Conference (AMM/PMC), 14 July 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
More than 30 participants, coming from government institutions of ASEAN Member States & ASEAN’s partners, ASEAN institutions (bodies/sectoral bodies/entities), as well as representatives of civil society, participated in the Discussion, co-organised by the ASEAN Institute for Peace & Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The joint event aimed to initiate preliminary discussions around key issues on women in peace processes – prior to the start of ASEAN-IPR & Norway’s collaborative project entitled “Women in Peace Processes”. Accordingly, the Stakeholder Discussion was also aimed to address gaps in evidence, policymaking and implementation of existing WPS-frameworks as well as identify efforts to build the capacity of a new and active generation of women peacebuilders.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Executive Director (ED) of ASEAN-IPR, underscored the importance of cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach for the implementation of the Regional Plan of Action on Women Peace and Security in ASEAN, which was adopted last year by the ASEAN Leaders. He further remarked, “Just like the vision of sustainable peace, peace agreements are only as good as the implementation of its clauses, and as comprehensive as the parties involved in the drafting and implementation of it.” Moreover, the ED expressed hope that the discussion could set foundation for new remarkable collaborations between Norway and ASEAN-IPR, for a long-term goal of sustainable peace.
In her remarks, Foreign Minister (FM) Huitfeldt shared five (5) factors which Norway have identified to ensure meaningful participation of women in formal peace and security processes. Such include, (i) knowledge; (ii) fund and support to women’s groups; (iii) coordination; (iv) getting parties on board; and (v) need for more women mediators. Furthermore, during discussions, when sharing Norway’s experiences on developing the fifth national action plan on women, peace & security, the FM stressed that process is more important than the action plan itself – underlining the significance of stakeholder engagement. Thus, she advised that ample time is spent on engaging all stakeholders in developing the action plan.
During a moderated discussion involving a broad range of stakeholders, participants raised important issues and perspectives from the angle of women in parliament; in humanitarian assistance; women in defence and the military and in peacekeeping operations. Among the challenges raised, participants discussed gaps in the intersections of women, peace, and security and the protection of human rights defenders, as well as the role and important contribution of female religious leaders, youth, civil society in advancing inclusivity in peace processes. A key takeaway from the discussion with stakeholders included – among others – how actors and policy makers can help ensure that policies on women, peace and security are better translated into concrete actions on the ground, especially at the grassroot level and for civilians.
The ASEAN-IPR and Norway joint project on “Women in Peace Processes” aims to, inter alia, compile evidence and experiences from women’s involvement in past and current peace processes. The project is expected to kick-start end of this year.