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Women’s Peace & Security Important in Post-2015 Development Agenda

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 31 2014 (IPS) - In precarious environments all around the world, women are being seized into the throes of conflict and poverty. Where war is being waged, women are either caught in the crossfire or bear the brunt of exclusion and attacks on their family, livelihood and emotional wellbeing.

“It is hard to see how we can make true progress on poverty eradication if we do not also address peace and security including that of women,” said Greta Gunnarsdottir, Iceland’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

She was speaking at a lecture series entitled ‘Women, Peace, Security – a critical component of the post-2015 development agenda.’

She added, “The woman are really suffering in Gaza,” – a reality for women that is proving devastatingly true in countries beset by violence.

At the discussion, organised by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein, Gunnarsdottir highlighted that the peace and security of women was a critical issue for the post-2015 development agenda. The inclusion of women in decision-making, as well as investing in the potential of “half the world’s assets” has been witnessed to improve development efforts.

Amina J. Mohammed, the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Post 2015 Development Planning, stated that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a good foundation to build upon progress towards social inclusion, economic transformation and environmental protection. However, she stressed that it was just the beginning, posing the question “now we’ve got the ingredients, can we bake the cake?”

Having received her primary education in Nigeria, Mohammed spoke of the investments and inclusion that were present at that time to nurture educated girls.

As Nigeria becomes increasingly associated with the actions of Boko Haram and the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in April, the Special Advisor expressed, “This is not what my country should be defined by. We need to search back the root causes that explain our young men taking young girls from our community and using them as fodder for conflict.”

Political will and robust planning placing governments, peaceful societies, respect for the rule of law and access to justice at the center will enable progress and successful implementation of the development agenda, according to Mohammed. Context is also important to consider when attempting to breakdown barriers to women and young girls participating in such ambitious development planning.

“To assume that a good education emancipates and empowers you in totality without really thinking of cultural-religious settings is one assumption too far,” said Mohammed. “We need to bring everyone on board in order not to sow seeds of discontent, where women are at the other end of that discontent.”

The potential of the rising cohort of young people that can help pave the way towards change was also addressed. Aside from expertise, modern day development efforts can benefit from a young generation that is actively engaged in current affairs and are able to see beyond boundaries and differences. Elderly people, too, should be viewed as assets that can offer depth of experience and an important historical tract that often gets forgotten.

The inclusion and participation of all sectors of civil society, as well as stronger institutional settings, are needed to support the path towards sustainable development beyond the poverty agenda.

Recognizing that governments worldwide had their respective visions and plans, Mohammed said of the SDGs, “What our set of goals will do is to lift that ambition, bring more clarity and get us to a global village that is more equal.”

Equality nonetheless requires the spread of knowledge and learning through dialogue between all stakeholders. Everyone needs to be at the center of development, including women and girls, Mohammed reminded. No one should be left behind.

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