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Women and peace and security

The information below is provided ahead of the annual open debate on women and peace and security in the Security Council on Wednesday, 25 October 2023. Its theme is “Women’s participation in international peace and security: from theory to practice.”

This post summarizes key points from:

  • The expected Secretary-General's report

  • Civil society's open letter

  • The brief of the organization Security Council Report

  • The concept note for the meeting

Key topics below

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  1. Negative trends.

  2. Observations related to data, climate security, disarmament, economic security, rule of law, security sector and Security Council decisions.

  3. Recommendations addressing national action plans, aid, women's rights and participation, women human rights defenders, protection measures, temporary special measures in conflict and military spending.

  1. Letter of NGO Working Group on WPS on behalf of 617 organizations noting attacks on women's rights and women's low participation in peacemaking.

  2. Recommendations to support women's full, equal, meaningful and safe participation and leadership.

Some of the topics addressed in the organization's brief included:

  1. The decrease in WPS provisions in resolutions

  2. Reprisals

  3. The Shared Commitments on WPS [we also note recommendations from SCR's research]

  4. The New Agenda for Peace

  5. The Peacebuilding Commission

  6. A recommendation to strengthen WPS in mandate renewals

Concept note [275 words]

Noting in brief the objectives for the meeting, expected themes and guiding questions.


Secretary-General's report [420 words]

Below are some key points expected to be featured in the Secretary-General’s report on WPS, based on a presentation to the Group of Friends on WPS on 3 October:

  1. The report maintains a spotlight on the negative trends on the WPS goals introduced in 2020, noting that: >> Military spending continues to go up, while progress on the SDGs, including Goal 5, is in peril. >> No substantial progress has been made in increasing funding for women’s organizations or the percentage of women in peace negotiations. >> Reprisals against women human rights defenders continue to increase, despite greater attention.

  2. Observations: >> Stronger efforts are needed to close data gaps on women’s participation in peace processes. >> There is a need to prioritize gender-responsive approaches in investments for climate security and peace building. >> Women and gender are under-represented in disarmament and non-proliferation and vice versa, those latter topics are usually missing from statements on WPS and National Action Plans. >> Economic security is essential to prevention, protection and participation. A much stronger investment is needed in gender-responsive social protection systems. Economic and financial systems require reform. >> Effective and inclusive rule of law institutions are pivotal for advancing gender equality. UN Women calls to promote accountability and consider reparations for conflict-related sexual violence. >> It is critical to promote gender equality and women’s participation in the security sector, yet the Security Council has only integrated gender considerations in 6 of the 11 missions with explicit mandates on security sector reform. >> References to women or gender equality in Security Council decisions decreased by almost 7 points in 2022 to 62.3%, with missed opportunities for inclusion in sanctions regimes. Furthermore, very few individuals or entities are sanctioned as a result of information on atrocities against women and girls.

  3. Recommendations: >> Ensure National Action Plans on WPS are budgeted and consider their codification into national legislation. >> Allocate at least 15% of ODA to gender equality, including 1% to women's organizations. >> Support women's human rights including sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as women's participation. >> Support and protect women human rights defenders. >> Consider additional measures to protect women in conflict, such as sanctions, international criminal proceedings, divestment campaigns, or the application of universal jurisdiction. >> Use temporary special measures in conflict, including to facilitate women's equitable access to public financing and reinforce mechanisms to prevent violence against women in politics. >> Reduce military spending and comply with international norms and frameworks, such as the Arms Trade Treaty.


Civil society's open letter [288 words]

  1. The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security sent ambassadors an open letter ahead of the Security Council meeting on behalf of 617 organizations. They urged the ambassadors to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peacemaking, in line with Security Council resolution 1325. They noted that women's rights are under ceaseless attack and that women’s participation in peace processes remains unacceptably low and is decreasing.

  2. The NGOs called to demand and to support the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation and leadership of women, in accordance with the standards set by the WPS agenda, including:

  • Demand and ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, in line with Resolution 1325 (2000) and all other WPS resolutions, in all conflicts and crises on Council's agenda.

  • Demand that the UN adopt and implement a principled and consistent approach to women’s rights and women’s participation across all Council's work.

  • Support diverse women’s participation in all peace and security processes with the target of 50 percent.

  • Support and prioritize women’s equal, direct and influential participation in formal Track 1 or high-level peace and political processes, where it is most obviously lacking.

  • Enforce and advocate for women’s participation quotas.

  • Dismantle structural barriers and ensure that women, in all their diversity, are able to participate on an equal footing as experts and leaders.

  • Demand that the equal, direct and influential participation of diverse women is a standard requirement across all UN-supported peace processes or convenings.

  • Enforce a zero-tolerance approach to any form of attack, intimidation, retaliation or reprisal against diverse women for their political participation, human rights and humanitarian work, peacebuilding activities or cooperation with UN mechanisms, including the Security Council. This includes condemnation and reporting, ensuring accountability and taking protection measures.


Security Council Report's brief [503 words]

The organization Security Council Report provided a detailed brief on the topic.

  1. SCR noted a few examples in which women's participation was addressed by the Security Council. However, it recalled UN Women's observation that if the current trend continues, the percentage of Council resolutions adopted this year containing WPS provisions would drop to about 50 percent, the lowest in the past seven years.

  2. SCR also drew attention to reprisals, as noted by the Secretary-General in his report (A/HRC/54/61): "I remain concerned about reports of the gender dimension and the specificity and severity of acts of reprisals against women, in particular for cooperation with the Security Council and peace operations mandated by the Council" [para 133]. In June 2022, UN Women surveyed 41 women who had briefed the Security Council. Seven of them replied with reports on reprisals against them [para 13].

  3. SCR's detailed research report on the Shared Commitments on WPS noted that "more meetings with a focus on WPS-related issues and more women civil society briefers do not, of themselves, translate into implementation or meaningful change." The NGO Working Group on WPS had called to go beyond "process" and deliver meaningful change for all women and girls living through the daily realities of war. SCR offered several recommendations: [page 19 of report] >> Council members could enhance cross-presidency planning to promote robust and continuous engagement on WPS across the Council’s work. This could include strategically planning activities such as Council meetings and stakeouts to maximize their impact, focusing on situations which have not received adequate Council attention, capitalizing on the expertise and recommendations shared during IEG meetings and coordinating positions on key WPS objectives, including in mandate renewals. >> Members may wish to develop ways to monitor the impact of their commitment to follow up on civil society briefers’ recommendations. >> Members must take all possible measures to keep briefers safe, in consultation with the briefers, including carrying out risk assessment, developing protection plans and responding to any reprisals. >> Members may wish to consider asking UN briefers to provide substantive updates on issues relevant to WPS, including implementation, as called for in resolution 2122. >> Members could also organize regular informal meetings with current and former participants to touch base on implementation. Current members could also regularly update the Group of Friends of WPS — an informal network of 64 UN member states chaired by Canada — on the evolution of the WPS presidencies initiative.

  4. SCR noted with regard to the Secretary-General's New Agenda for Peace that critics, including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), described it as inadequate, despite its attention to reprisals and structures that hindered women's participation.

  5. SCR also noted that alongside positive trends in the Peacebuilding Commission, its outcomes mostly lacked references to information provided by women peacebuilders and did not usually contain analysis or specific recommendations.

  6. Finally, SCR noted that a key issue was to preserve and strengthen WPS language in upcoming mandate renewals and follow up on the implementation of these decisions.


Concept note [275 words]

Brazil, the Security Council's President in October 2023 circulated a concept note (S/2023/733) with the information noted below.

Theme: Women’s participation in international peace and security: from theory to practice

"Women’s under-representation in or exclusion from peace and security has not fundamentally changed. With specific regard to women’s inclusion in formal peace talks, it continues to be marginal or entirely lacking."


  1. Reflect on the possible bias of implementation efforts;

  2. Reaffirm the importance of resolution 1325 (2000); and

  3. Set goals in preparation for the 25th anniversary of resolution 1325 in 2025.

Expected themes

  1. Women's participation in peace processes and decision making;

  2. Protection of women and girls and ending impunity; and

  3. Including women's rights, gender and women's groups in the Council's deliberations and outcomes.

Guiding questions

  1. Within its competencies, how can the Security Council help Member States comply with different resolutions on women and peace and security, especially regarding participation.

  2. What measures have been taken to grant women access to leadership positions in political institutions as well as in justice, security and defence institutions at the national and regional levels?

  3. How can Member States ensure that women and peace and security initiatives translate into concrete change for local female populations, as well as guarantee the safety of women journalists, parliamentarians, mediators, peacekeepers and peacebuilders?

  4. What plans are there in national Governments devoted to advancing the Secretary-General’s goal for a radical shift in women’s participation in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding over the next year?

  5. What role could the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security play in the Council’s assessment of the situation of women and girls, as well as gender issues on the ground?


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