Opening Panel at the GERC of OSCE 12.6.2017

28. Juni 2017

Heidi Meinzolt spricht auf der OSCE Gender Equality Review Conference 2017:

OSCE Gender Equality Review Conference 2017 – Opening Panel

Dear auditorium, I am happy to speak to you as a representative of civil society/CS on this important topic. The Civic Solidarity Platform/CSP is an umbrella organisation representing mostly human rights organisations from the whole OSCE area (www.civicsolidarity.org ). I am proud to announce that we have recently founded a women and gender working group and we had our kick-off meeting yesterday. My expertise in women and gender issues relies on my long-term commitment as member and European coordinator of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom/WILPF (www.wilpf.org), the oldest women’s organisation striving for Peace and Justice since 1915.

17 years after the acceptance of UNSCR 1325 and 13 years after the OSCE GAP it is a good moment to reflect on achievements and (new) challenges.

It should be clear: we are not asking a favour, but we are committed to rights.

UNSCR 1325 was an achievement by CS, especially through advice and lobbying of women’s organisations. The combination of the three „P“: Protection from violence, including from gender based violence, meaningful participation on all levels of decision making and negotiations in all phases of the conflict cycle, and priority to conflict prevention, is a unique achievement.

The implementation of the WPS agenda is a very comprehensive and complex task and requires high responsibility and joint efforts of CS, governments and institutions. Numerous NAP‘s and international Conventions have been formulated with more or less strong involvement of CS – depending on the political context and the urgencies in conflict zones.

Speaking here in the name of CS, I emphasize that the WPS agenda stands for substantial changes in political commitments towards conflict, which are very well laid down in the logic of the Global Study in 2015. Key elements are the creation of a gender sensitive environment, structural critics of patriarchal dominance, and the promotion of public awareness for possible benefit through inclusiveness. Feminist commitments are rarely anchored in a political mainstream and at present time more threatened than we thought for many years. This does not make our tasks easier. We need support from all parts of the society, women and men together for justice and sustainability.

I want to invite you to follow with me some examples of recent achievements and challenges towards the implementation of UNSCR from a CS perspective:

Germany: The 2nd NAP on UNSCR 1325 provides a regular and institutionalized operational exchange between the alliance of 1325 and the inter-ministerial WG; we hope that this continuity can lead at the end of this period to better evaluation tools than during the 1st NAP. A bitter pill is that a substantial integration of women refugee issues requested by CS, was refused. Positive development, Germany has very recently ratified the Istanbul Convention – strongly pushed by CS (this will also happen soon in Ukraine!). In the CEDAW recommendations 2017, WILPF has worked on on arm’s export affecting women’s rights (eg. Saudia Arabia and women killed in Yemen)

Switzerland: The important study done by Swisspeace and presented at an OSCE side event last year in Warsaw at the Human dimension meeting on „reloading 1325“ has a specific focus on post conflict situation. The main challenge identified by my colleague Annemarie Sancar was the necessary integration of an economic focus for women, specifically on care work.

Holland: CS was integrated in the whole drafting process of the NAP and held at the end common ownership with the government. This is discussed controversially in the CS, because it includes the extensive use of UNSCR1325 for military purposes.

Serbia: CS complains about an insufficient address of HR violations committed during the war and adequate measures as well as prosecution of perpetrators – which block further developments of the NAP.

Bosnia: Women complain about the ethnic division due to the Dayton agreement and the obstacles by nationalistic leaders not allowing and blaming cross border activities as anti-patriotic while they might give space to specific early warning activities in the post-conflict situation and as preventive tool.

Armenia: Very committed women across borders are still expecting a draft NAP which is prepared in a parallel process of CS and governments – synergies are only hoped and the general political situation quite is exclusive.

Ukraine: there is a growing problem with GBV, raising with the conflict in the country – there are insufficient official data, lack of media reporting especially in non-controlled territory. Women participate in legal advocacy and in projects of the Council of Europe on IDP’s, not focused on women rights and their absence in State politics

Central Asia and Caucasian region: Ways to tackle migration are dominated by patriarchism, women, children and IDPs suffer most. Multiethnicity needs specific attention; an aggressive border management is identified as one of the main obstacles.

All in all, the most competent trainings, the presence of gender advisers, local and international experts are an enormous achievement. But we see from our experiences from the ground, that we always meet the same root causes of war and violence in different historical and cultural contexts: excessive production of weapons (from SALW to drones and weapons of mass destruction), sold with enormous profits to conflict regions where they fuel wars and threat lives of the non combatant civilian population, between them many women and children. The 2nd main root cause remains inequality and the exploitation of human and natural resources.

As long as we don’t find adequate political answers to these root causes, we are working on symptoms and we will miss our mission! CS and especially women’s organisations have the duty to put the finger in the wounds in times of increasing militarism, fear and shrinking space for a free and independent CS, where women and other vulnerable groups are excluded or side-lined from the public sphere. Our women’s rights are eroded by a rising tide of xenophobia and the tendency to emphasise military solutions to problems that are in fact of complex nature. Gender equality has become an individual need, individual benefit as opposed to collective rights.

To quote a participant from a convening that gathered some weeks ago women led CS from around the world in Geneva in the HR framework: „it is time to rebel, it is time to refrain, it is time to resist, it is time to reclaim the UN as a peace organisation“ (same for the OSCE!). We are ready to support all relevant initiatives of the OSCE GAP with local expertise and try to make our colleagues in the CSP more aware to help us. And last not least: Men engage for our common future!

Recommandations including meaningful participation of women on all levels in the perspective of a successful implementation of UNSCR1325 and follow up Resolutions:

  • Strengthen multilateralism in the framework of Human Security and Peace against new nationalisms and exclusiveness
  • Promote various forms of cross-border activities and issue-based coalitions as a added value to prevent shrinking space
  • Consider a local to global to local strategy,
  • Support multiple initiatives of long-term trust building beyond all kind of borders as early warning mechanisms (not just in the form of projects) and conflict prevention
  • Prioritize diversity and tolerance as a fundamental value of societies and a basis to Co ply with gender realities
  • Invest in the re-evaluation of care work for a sustainable development especially in post conflict situations
  • Support CS in strategies to move the money from war to peace building, health, SDGS, education, trainings
  • Help prioritising the problems of refugees/women refugees and IDP women with their specific threats, violations/GBV and needs for a secure shelter, child care, education and job possibilities

CS strongly emphasizes the necessity of cross-dimensional working in the OSCE area between the Human dimension, Foreign and Security and economic dimension. HR are per se universal and cross-dimensional.

OSCE Gender Equality Review Conference 2017