Global Perspectives | Salon | 18. June 2021

Women in Conflict and Peacebuilding

Why protection and participation are key

On occasion of the International Day for Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

On occasion of the International Day for Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict we aimed to draw attention to the remarkable work of women in peace and security, highlight the importance of women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and discuss the challenges and opportunities to better protect women, and foster their engagement and participation.

What are the challenges for women in conflict areas and how can an inclusive peacemaking environment be facilitated? Where does Germany stand on implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?

In a lively and inspiring discussion our two panelists debated various ideas on what action is needed by the international community to end gender-based violence and to enhance women’s participation in peace processes.

While the world is caught up in fighting the global health crisis, conflict and violence continue to have direct consequences for many women and girls. The pandemic has sidelined initiatives highlighting the continuous and increasing use of sexual violence against women as a weapon of war and the pressing need for multilateral action in this regard.

On the other hand, women have voice, power and agency to be change makers. Their outstanding leadership in peace processes and decision-making is key for effective and sustainable peace. Their contributions to public and domestic care work, local conflict resolution and community development are often unrecognized, but are the drivers of reconstruction and recovery from armed conflict.

We know of the transformational potential of women as peace leaders and there is significant empirical evidence of sustained peace and higher success rates in the implementation of peace agreements, when women are involved“, highlighted Ilwad Elman. Yet between 1992 and 2018, women were only 13 per cent of negotiators, 3 per cent of mediators and only 4 per cent of signatories in major peace processes.

To overcome this unbalanced ratio, Ilwad Elman called for the international community to „adopt and support the use quotas for the direct and gender-equitable participation of women in all phases of formal peace and political transformation processes“. In many cases quotas are the foot in the door for women. Making this a condition for the UN’s financial commitments to governments could be a way forward, Ilwad Elman and Ambassador Heusgen agreed.

With the Resolution 1325 in 2000 the United Nation Security Council recognized the gendered impacts of war. The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is seen as a milestone in the pursuit of gender justice and inclusion in conflict and peacekeeping. However, progress and implementation is slow, hindered by continuous militarization, the broader climate of pushback on women’s human rights and a lack of accountability.

Ambassador Heusgen made clear that the UN can set principles and norms and draw attention to a problem. Then these have to be implemented on the ground in the specific conflict. The sovereignty of nations as well as of elected governments often gets in the way of this. Both our panelists agree that dual-track investments into the civil society, people’s movements and civic education would be instrumental in order to enable people to hold their government accountable throughout their term and to move democracy forward.

Supporting women- and youth-lead initiatives, such as African Women Leaders Network, the Elman Peace Centre and the Principles for Peace initiative is all the more key for harnessing the local expertise, and bridging the gap between global resolutions and indigenous, traditional and local best practices for inclusive integration of women.

We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with these inspiring personalities and took away a lot of new insights.


  • Ilwad Elman, Director of Programs & Development, Elman Peace Centre; 2020 Aurora Prize Laureate
  • Ambassador Dr. Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations, New York/U.S.A.


  • Christine Mhundwa, Anchor & Correspondent, Deutsche Welle (DW)

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online | via Zoom
3:00 - 4:00 pm CEST


Aurora Humanitarian Initiative 

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