from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – THE implementation of a resolution adopted 20 years ago to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in United Nations (UN) peace and security efforts has been sluggish.
Termed the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, the declaration recently became a source of division to the global body as its Security Council failed to agree on the adoption of a resolution to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the resolution.
However, in the midst of this indecision, Zimbabwe is playing an exemplary role in the implementation of this crucial resolution.
As a cabinet minister pointed out as the Southern African country commemorated UNSCR 1325, this was in line with Zimbabwe’s founding on values and principles that include recognition of gender equality.
This is enshrined in the constitution, particularly Section 17, which mandates the government (Zimbabwe) to promote gender balance taking into cognisance full participation of women in political, social and economic spheres.
Zimbabwe has been independent since 1980.
Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Zimbabwe Minister of Defence and war Veterans, said it was “disheartening” that despite the promulgation of UNSCR 1325, 20 years ago, women’s participation in peace and security still remained more symbolic than substantive.
“Local cultural norms and patriarchal hierarchies remain obstacles in most African societies for women to meaningfully influence and participate in peace negotiations,” she said.
Zimbabwe has made strides, with Muchinguri-Kashiri herself a good example.
In 2018, she was appointed the country’s first ever female Minister of Defense.
At the political level, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) appointed her as the first female national chairperson.
One of the key functions of her office is to ensure that women participate in intra and inter party peacebuilding processes as well as the effective management of conflicts.
In 2013, Zimbabwe appointed Shailet Moyo the first female Brigadier in the Defence Forces. In 2016, Ellen Chiweshe, was promoted to become the country’s first female Air Commodore with the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ).
According to the recommendation by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Zimbabwe has recorded a 20 percent female representation increase in peacekeeping missions.
From 2015 to date, 18 Zimbabwe National Army female officers and 15 Air Force of Zimbabwe female officer have participated in peace support operations in different countries, giving a total of 33 peace keeping officers.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police as well as Prisons and Correctional Services have appointed female Deputy Commissioners at every level.
Zimbabwe meanwhile has 60 seats in Parliament reserved for women.
Maria Ribeiro, the UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe, said in spite of the existence of crucial frameworks globally, on average, between 1992 and 2019, women contributed only 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators and comprise only 6 percent of signatories in major peace processes.
The UN envoy said at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional level, high ranking women in the security sectors of member states remained low with few women leading key negotiation and mediation processes.
“At the grassroots level, women and youth have limited effective spaces and opportunities to contribute towards peacebuilding processes at national level with states,” Riberio said.
António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, said over the two decades since UNSCR 1325, there had been notable achievements on women, peace and security.
“But, progress is too slow, too narrow, and too easy to reverse,” Guterres lamented.
– CAJ News