Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), recognizing the criticality of women’s participation and leadership in peace and political processes.
Implementation of WPS priorities is a political commitment in the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative. A4P reaffirms that women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes and political solutions is essential for effective peacekeeping and sustainable peace.
This photo essay illustrates women’s strength, leadership and invaluable contributions in peacekeeping settings. It depicts women as participants, leaders and, most importantly, as agents of change, leading discussions, participating in elections, signing peace agreements and galvanizing support for peace in their communities.
Guetel Moiba Esther Adrienne, Central African Republic, February 2019
For the first time in the history of the Central African Republic, four women served as delegates in the formal peace talks in neighbouring Sudan between the government and armed groups to end the conflict in the country. Guetel Moiba Esther Adrienne, representing an armed group, participated in the negotiations and was signatory to the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation. Three other women also participated in the peace negotiations as government representatives.
Luljeta Aliu, Kosovo, 2019
Luljeta Aliu leads the Kosovo NGO INJECT and is convinced that violence against women is the result of institutions and systems that disregard women’s stories and maintain a culture of impunity for perpetrators. Her work has inspired survivors of violence to tell their stories and hold institutions to account. In 2018, with the support of the UN peace operation in Kosovo, UNMIK, Luljeta published research that directly influenced changes in Kosovo’s Family Law, which now recognizes women’s contribution to their households, and supports the realization of women’s equal rights to inheritance.
Major Ajok and Alokiir Malual, South Sudan, 2018
Alokiir Malual is one of seven women signatories to South Sudan’s 2018 IGAD-led Revitalized Peace Agreement. The formal peace talks that led to the agreement saw a four-fold increase in the number of women participating, as compared with negotiations in 2017- from 7 to 28. This can, in part, be directly attributed to the efforts of UN and partners to increase women’s participation. Along with Major Ajok (left), a woman leader in the security sector and a diverse group of women leaders across South Sudan, Alokiir has been instrumental in advocating for the implementation of the agreement, including by working to hold the warring parties to account.
Women calling for peace, Darfur, Sudan, 2018
On 24 April 2018, women in Darfur signed a pledge to bring stability, opportunity and peace to their communities. Less than a year later, women played a prominent role in the political transition process in Sudan, which resulted in women holding key government leadership positions, including the country’s first-ever woman foreign minister and chief justice. The AU-UN joint peace operation in Darfur, UNAMID, has also been facilitating the participation of Darfuri women in the ongoing peace process and political transition.
Legislative and presidential elections, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 2011
The low participation of women in political and electoral processes in the DRC is a structural issue. In the 2018 elections, women accounted for approximately 50 per cent of all registered voters, but just 12 per cent of candidates. To overcome this, the UN peace operation in the DRC, MONUSCO, is strategically engaging with women leaders, including through its Good Offices. In 2019, 74 traditional leaders in Bukavu, Goma, Kananga, Kinshasa and Mbanza-Ngungu signed a letter committing themselves to increasing the number of women chiefs in provincial assemblies. Since then, the number of local women traditional leaders has doubled.
Hanan Charanek, Bassel al-Assad Cultural Centre, International Women’s Day , Lebanon, 2013
Music and art can be a vehicle to highlight women’s political achievements. Some of the most notable contributions to traditional Lebanese music in the 20th century were made by women, making it an ideal way to celebrate women’s accomplishments. This musical performance at Bassel al-Assad Cultural Centre in Tyre, Lebanon took place on International Women’s Day. It was a celebration of the positive changes in communities resulting from the work of women leaders and activists.
Case de la Paix, Gao, Mali, 2018
In Gao, women from 76 women’s associations belonging to different ethnic groups and communities established ‘Case de la Paix’ to help bring about peace and social cohesion. With support from the UN peace operation in Mali, MINUSMA, and UN Women, Case de la Paix has become a recognized platform for women to contribute to peace, regardless of ethnic background. Case de la Paix demanded that armed groups implement a local ceasefire and raised awareness of Mali’s Law 052 stipulating that 30 per cent of those holding elected or appointed government roles must be women. This outreach led to an increase in the number of women elected to Gao’s local councils.
Youth Peace Ambassadors, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 2019
Women of all ages and backgrounds are advancing peace in the DRC. The Peace Ambassadors are a group of 10 young women leaders supported by the UN peace operation in the country, MONUSCO. The leaders — one of
whom is featured in this photograph — promote peace and non-violent communication among students in Kinshasa schools to foster stability and peaceful relations.
Women bringing communities together, Cyprus, 2019
In 2019, Cypriot women activists consolidated efforts to engage more women in political life to support a renewed peace process. The UN peace operation in Cyprus, UNFICYP, has strengthened engagement with diverse groups of women and women’s organizations, enabling many women, who had never been involved in peace and political processes before, to engage meaningfully on common concerns.
Rebecca Konyi Ibon, South Sudan, 2019
After fighting for hundreds of years, the Dinka Bor and Murle tribes in South Sudan’s Jonglei signed a peace agreement in 2019 known as the Manyabol Agreement. Rebecca Konvi Ibon was one of the women leaders who played a critical role in the negotiations that brought together the tribes and began to rebuild relations between communities, with support from the UN peace operation, UNMISS.
Women and men from the Ngok Dinka communities, Abyei, 2019
With support from the UN peace operation in Abyei, UNISFA, women leaders engaged in constructive and peaceful dialogue with men to promote equal involvement in decision-making and address discrimination against women. This dialogue will help challenge long-standing attitudes and beliefs and pave the way for more women to access leadership positions at local level.
Tiedo Haidara, Mopti, Mali, 2019
Tiedo Haidra is the president of the Association of Ban Kadi, which is dedicated to building unity and trust between tribes in Mali. Working with the UN peace operation in Mali, MINUSMA, the organization has created a network for women and families to play an essential role in promoting reconciliation and development in their communities.
Commander Aïssa Maïga, Mali, 2015
Commander Aïssa Maïga was the first high-ranking woman officer in Mali’s national gendarmerie. Today, she oversees 14 brigades. Her championing of women’s rights led to women being allowed to hold the same positions as men in the police. As vice-president of the gender committee of the National Police of Mali, supported by the UN peace operation in Mali, MINUSMA, Aïssa helps address challenges faced by women police officers. Her work also contributes to preventing forced marriage and enhancing support to survivors of sexual violence.
Belvia de Bonheur Roimale, Central African Republic (CAR), 2019
Central African women are making significant strides in the security sector to bridge the gender gap. As members of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and security sector reform committees, they are influencing key policies that can help transform CAR’s security arrangements and create space for women. Belvia de Bonheur Roimale, who is featured in the photo, is one of 258 women who recently joined the national gendarmerie through a recruitment campaign initiated by UN peace operation in CAR, MINUSCA that helped increase the percentage of women in the police force from 23 to 25 per cent in 2019.
Judicial officials, Haiti, 2018
In 2018, women judicial officials at Haiti’s Court of First Instance held dedicated sessions to reduce a backlog of files and pre-trial detention of women. In 2018, the UN peace operation in Haiti, MINUJUSTH, which has since transitioned to a special political mission, BINUH, worked closely with the Haitian justice system to take a gender-responsive approach to improving access to justice for all Haitians. MINUJUSTH also promoted women’s leadership within judicial and legal institutions and advocated for increasing the number of women judges.