Women, peace and security

Armed conflict affects women, men, girls, and boys in different ways.

Women and girls around the world face discrimination based on their gender. Displaced women and refugees are especially vulnerable. They are most vulnerable to conflict-related sexual violence.

At the same time, women and girls play a key role in preserving their communities. Their economic and social responsibilities may increase in times of war. They often act as agents of peace, leading movements that eventually bring the warring parties to the negotiation table. Women often address the root causes of a conflict and increase community buy-in.

Yet, conflict resolution processes frequently exclude women.

Our commitment to the global women, peace and security agenda

Canada knows that sustainable peace is only possible when women are fully involved in the resolution of conflict, and peace and security efforts. More inclusive, gender-equal and peacefull societies are possible, when women participate in:

  • conflict prevention
  • conflict resolution
  • post-conflict state building

The women, peace and security agenda is at the heart of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, which includes the Feminist International Assistance Policy and Defence Policy.

Women, peace and security agenda

Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security was the first resolution to recognize the unique and disproportionate effects of armed conflict on women and girls. It urges Member States, the UN, and other actors to address these circumstances.

Today, the women, peace and security agenda is comprehensive. It is comprised of eight resolutions, and it calls on the international community to, among other things:

  • Promote and support women’s active and meaningful participation in all conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution mechanisms and institutions (formal and informal), and mainstream a gender perspective into all peace and security activities and strategies, including in the following areas:
    • peace negotiations
    • relief and recovery aid management and planning
    • peace operations, stabilization missions, and counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism efforts
    • reconciliation, transitional justice, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, election processes, security sector reform, institution building, and political, social, and economic transformation efforts
  • Promote and safeguard the human rights of women and girls and take special measures to protect them from sexual and gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict, including by:
    • prosecuting perpetrators
    • excluding sexual violence from amnesty provisions
    • ensuring that survivors of sexual violence have equal protection under the law and access to justice
    • increasing survivors’ access to health care, psychosocial support, and socio-economic reintegration services
    • providing robust pre-deployment training on sexual exploitation and abuse to peace operation personnel
  • Promote women’s equal access to relief and recovery distribution mechanisms and services and ensure that their specific needs are taken into account.

To date, 79 countries have established National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security to advance this agenda. Canada launched its first National Action Plan in 2010 for the 2011-2016 period. We have tabled five annual progress reports in Parliament. The plan emphasized:

  • strengthening efforts to increase the participation of women and girls in all peace and security efforts
  • protecting the human rights of women and girls
  • ensuring women and girls have equal access to humanitarian and development assistance

On November 1, 2017, the Government of Canada launched Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the 2017-2022 period.

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