UNSCR 1325: the challenges of framing women’s rights as a security matter

While UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 has certainly increased awareness among international actors about women’s and gender issues in armed conflict, opened new spaces for dialogue and partnerships from global to local levels, and even created opportunities for new resources for women’s rights, successes remain limited and notably inconsistent. To understand some of these shortcomings and think creatively about how to move the women, peace and security agenda forward, it is essential to understand the conceptual assumptions underscoring UNSCR 1325. Framing women’s rights and gender equality as security issues poses numerous limitations on how the international community conceptualises women’s “natural” roles in conflict-affected societies and subsequently the options available for promoting peace and equality in societies rebuilding after war. This policy brief aims to unpack these conceptual challenges and consider how these concepts may be better utilised by national and international actors to foster greater women’s participation in peacebuilding processes, enhance understanding of the diverse insecurities facing women, and improve the international community’s capacity to be gender sensitive in conflict and post-conflict areas. The conceptual challenges underscoring this agenda are as relevant as the political and operational obstacles, and in many ways the former are essential for understanding the latter.