Kamis, 07 Juli 2016

Asia-Pacific Expert Group Meeting on Women, Peace and Security

In October 2015 the United Nations Security Council convened a High-level Review to assess progress at the global, regional and national levels on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) over the past 15 years, as reiterated by resolution 2122 (2013). In the same resolution, the Security Council invited the Secretary-General, in preparation for the High Level Review, to commission a global study highlighting good practices, implementation gaps, challenges, emerging trends and priorities for action in advancing the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda.

The Study was launched in New York City in the same week as the High Level Review by its lead author Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, and former Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. She was also supported by a 17-member strong high-level advisory group consisting of eminent experts from across the world. The study articulates a global policy agenda that can inform future women, peace and security efforts. Its results were also submitted by the Secretary-General within his annual report to the Security Council 2015.

The role of regional mechanisms and institutions in the women, peace and security agenda and specifically linked to the prevention, management and resolution of conflict is clearly recognized in SCR 1325. Through its subsequent resolutions, the Security Council has urged regional and sub-regional bodies to take measures to:
  • increase the representation of women in mediation and decision-making processes with regards to conflict resolution (SCR 1888);
  • improve women’s participation during all stages of peace processes as well as conflict resolution, post-conflict planning and peacebuilding; including by enhancing their engagement in political and economic decision-making at early stages of recovery process, including through promoting women’s leadership and capacity to engage in aid management and planning, supporting women’s organizations, and countering negative societal attitudes about women’s capacity to participate equally (SCR 1889); and
  • promote the development and implementation of polices, activities, and advocacy for women and girls affected by sexual violence in armed conflict (SCR 1820).

In support of this process, and to facilitate discussion of the implementation of the Global Study recommendations in Asia Pacific, a regional launch of the global study and accompanying Expert Group Meeting (EGM) were held on January 21 - 22 in Bangkok, Thailand (Annex 1: Agenda).
The purpose of the EGM was to identify regional priorities, develop joint strategies and support work at the national level on women, peace and security issues, in the context of the recommendations of the Global Study and the outcome of the High Level Review.
By bringing together experts from different member States, civil society representatives and UN Entities, the meeting aimed to promote the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experiences and to facilitate the identification of lessons learnt, existing challenges, good practices, existing trends and emerging issues at the regional level.

In addition, to further disseminate the Global Study and its recommendations, a regional launch was held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on the morning of 21 January 2016. The UN Women Regional Director presented the study, together with Ms. Bandana Rana - expert member of the High Level Advisory Group, and representatives of the Ministry of Family and Women’s Affairs from the Government of Thailand. The Embassy of Japan provided closing remarks at the launch. 

The regional launch and expert group meeting resulted in the following specific outputs:
  1. Disseminate the global study and discuss the regional relevance of its recommendations.
  2. Identification of regional priorities on women, peace and security, with particular attention to emerging issues and regional trends.
  3. Sharing of knowledge and national strategies to support the implementation of commitments of Asia Pacific Member States made during the High Level Review and national-level responses to the recommendations of the Global Study. 
 The launch of the Global Study was well-attended by approximately 80 participants including senior government officials, UN Entities, civil society representatives, local Thai and international media, development partners and representatives from foreign embassies.
The 29 participants in the EGM included 12 international attendees, and was composed of government representatives and members of civil society from Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Members of UN entities participated in sessions and lead discussions as representatives of the regional advisory group on Women, Peace and Security (Annex 2: List of participants). 

Ms. Clarke welcomed the experts on behalf of the Technical Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and the co-chairs of ESCAP and UN Women. She noted the TWG’s thematic working group on WPS established to support member states to develop and implement NAPs on 1325. She noted that this advisory group has been meeting since 2012 to map UN activities and work with civil society on WPS; a number of norms have developed. However, she affirmed the EGM has a chance to reset the normative agenda.
Ms. Clarke recalled that the Beijing review affirmed the centrality of 1325. She noted the need for protection of rights for women and girls, and the need to commit to the prosecution of those who commit crimes against women and girls. She stressed the need to seriously consult about a do-able agenda as the experts seek to address old and emerging challenges.

She also noted the influence of a February 2014 strategy-focused meeting of CSOs in Bangkok. Reflecting on the meeting, she urged the participants to think of 6 dynamics which are important to advocacy in the Asia Pacific region:
  • The diversity of conflict
  • The expanded scope of state obligations
  • The need to focus on local women in international policy making; Security Council resolutions can be too ‘far away’, so sometimes it is hard to think of how we ourselves can intervene and advocate effectively
  • The nexus between Peace, Security and Development
  • The need to address impunity in past violations
  • The regional institutions with whom WPS activists must be engaged with

Finally, she stated the ultimate purpose of the EGM is to identify regional priorities within a diverse region. She noted that conflicts are diverse and complicated, particularly with the rise of extremism and fundamentalism and the porousness of borders. She set an agenda of finding common causes to improve advocacy and assert and foster a culture of peace. She challenged the participants to ensure NAPs are not simply documents that work as checklists. Plans must be effectively implemented and limitations must be addressed. In closing, she thanked the participants for their time and their thoughts on behalf of the working group and the UN.

 Ms. Cueva-Beteta provided a review of the agenda and outlined the plan and organization of the EGM’s discussions. She stated the aim of the sessions and discussions was to discover how the global study has impacted the region and how different countries are helped or hindered. 
She noted that not all countries represented at the EGM have NAPs, urging the participants to use these presentations as a platform to discuss implementation. She noted the good practice of Nepal, a country highlighted in the study, as a useful case to begin a discussion of the practices and lessons that have shaped, and will shape, NAPs in the region. 
Ms. Cueva-Beteta particularly drew attention to the discussions on Access to Justice and Culture of Peace. She noted they will form a discussion not only concerned with justice, but access to justice more generally in the post-conflict period, affirming it as something that must be built and an area where women have limitations. She said it is important to hear stories of systems that work, but also elements that don’t work. Of the latter discussion, she noted that conflict does not stop with peace agreements. She said it is necessary to build intellectual linkages between preventing violence and preventing radicalization. Finally, she affirmed the need for interrelated mindsets over the course of the EGM. 

In closing, she gave the floor to the participants for introductions. 

 Mr. Rajbhandari began by asserting Nepal’s commitment to its position as a UN member state, a commitment that has seen Nepal develop a five-year NAP. In this light, he introduced his presentation as a contextual background on Nepal’s NAP, with scope for discussion of the country’s plan for its second phase.
Nepal’s NAP was formulated in 2011; Mr. Rajbhandari noted it as the first in South Asia and the second in Asia. He described development as a consultative and collaborative process between government, civil society, and conflict-affected women and girls. He highlighted the following process:
  • 2012: First NAP monitoring report published
  • 2013: Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction developed NAP Localization Guideline
  • 2015: Mid-term review launched 
  • December 2015: 5 year Action Plan completed
Mr. Rajbhandari echoed Ms. Cueva-Beteta’s opening comments as he noted that Nepal’s NAP is often cited as ‘global best practice’. As such he provided the following explanation of Nepal’s structural implementation mechanism;

High Level Steering Committee of 8 members, tasked with decision implementation and resource mobilization
Implementation Committee of 14 members, tasked with local incorporation and monitoring
District Coordination Committee of 14 members from local-level ministries and NGOs, tasked with local incorporation and monitoring
Gender Unit in the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction tasked with monitoring and evaluation

Mr. Rajbhandari noted this structure as achieving great progress for WPS in Nepal. Currently, there is a 33% minimum quota for women’s participation; an Enforced Disappearances and Truth and Reconciliation Commission; rehabilitation programs for Maoist combatants; child care centres; and the inclusion of resolutions 1325 and 1820 in school curricula and police and army training. 

However, women’s representation remains low in many areas, and at times women’s participation does not reach the 33% quota. Mr. Rajbhandari responded to this by asserting a plan to implement several new policies and orientations, and capacity-building and advocacy work to encourage and support participation. He also said government resources are sparse, therefore there is no specific WPS budget, no timely implementation of the programme outlined by the NAP, and not enough women’s rehabilitation centres.

Mr. Rajbhandari highlighted these gaps before looking forward to Nepal’s next project: a second, at least 3-year long, phase of the NAP. Alongside current gaps, he noted it will look at localization and a ‘one-door mechanism’ on NAP implementation.

Ms. Rana opened by asserting she would provide a counter-snapshot of Mr. Rajbhandari’s outline of Nepal’s NAP; a ‘critical picture of the gaps and challenges for the future’. She particularly picked up Mr. Rajbhandari’s comment about cooperation between government and CSOs in Nepal. Like Mr. Rajbhandari, Ms. Rana noted Nepal’s reputation of ‘good practice’, but despite being proud of this, she said there are still many challenges ahead.
Of chief importance to Ms. Rana was the mostly male-leadership of the national-led mechanisms to implements the WPS agenda. She noted that the staff and body responsible for implementation have mostly been male, with only 2 (short-serving) women out of a total 7 ministers. In effect, the ministers are often concerned with gender as a subsumed interest within their own broader agendas. 
Developing this, Ms. Rana noted that although the NAP has ensured the women’s agenda is not simply considered a broad ‘peace agenda’ or subsumed within roads, hospitals, and reconstruction, she questioned the reach of the raised awareness. She stated that conflict-affected women have not yet been reached; seed-funding is not in place and training has been conducted in places that women are often not comfortable travelling to. She said these problems highlight the need for greater localization.
Finally, Ms. Rana revisited the importance of coordination and collaboration between government and civil society. She described the process of initiating 1325 as a vibrant, active plan which has demonstrated the necessity of a partnership that is critical, rather than simply cooperative.
 Question: Are you aware of UNICEF’s joint program doing reproductive health camps to document survivors? They struggled because survivors had moved on and been reluctant to come forward. Looking back at their experience could be helpful as I think it will be hard to find speakers to come forward.
Response, Ms. Rana: It has been a long time since the conflict, and yes UNFPA and UNICEF had a program. We need shelters for women and to work with victims of DV. With the TRC we are hoping that we can develop this issue. This should be a program developed with people working on the front lines; it should not be a one-time program. We must take 3 or 4 cases as precedents, which will then mobilize others.

Question; I would like to know more about the function of the rehabilitation centre. Also, you mentioned in your second phase plan you would like to have a one-door mechanism on NAP?

Response, Mr. Rajhbandari: If we move to the second phase, we will extend rehabilitation systems to all victims. The primary function of the rehabilitation centre will be primary rescue and primary treatment. When we develop our second phase, we will effectively plan all the programs so they are connected through the Gender Unit, which needs to be capacitated in terms of Human Resources. There is no mapping of documentation and information—these are key. The programs will be run through this one corridor and same objective.

Question: You had the localization guidelines, but please tell us if there were things that would operate differently; what would you work on differently and what do you think didn’t work out? Was there just a disconnect or was there something more? I’m also curious to know the status with DDR and the female ex-combatant community. How has the plan reached out to then?

Response, Ms. Rana: A big missing link we have assessed is not adequately coordinating with the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs. It can be difficult for the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction to assess everything—the local department therefore needs to be integrated very strongly in the second phase. Assessing female combatants, there are examples of ones with good training, and some who have said the training is not adequate.

 Like Ms. Rana before her, Ms. Gayatri began by noting the relatively recent ‘vibrant incorporation’ of civil society within Indonesian politics. She noted that governments and civil society are no longer in complete opposition. In the context of conflict in Indonesia, this is an important development—as she noted, if you ask if there is currently conflict in Indonesia, the government will say no; in contrast, Ms. Gayatri offered the example of the ongoing security situation in West Papua.
Noting the need for collaboration despite competing dialogue, Ms. Gayatri introduced the importance of overcoming language and terminology issues. In the development of Indonesia’s NAP, she noted that rather than using the term ‘armed conflict’, they used ‘social conflict’. The term ensured women in conflict-affected communities such as West Papua had channels to engage in discussion. Ms. Gayatri said allowing for the narration of their experiences ensured the NAP was built upon in forums at the national and the local levels, creating translatable grassroots dialogue.

She noted the further importance of civil society organizations due to the militaristic and patriarchal domination within Indonesian politics. Ms. Gayatri noted that these values have continued across Presidencies, therefore discussions, meetings, and consultations between CSOs and governments are important to prevent further institutionalization of these values. She particularly noted that militaristic approaches are mainstream policy, therefore there were different levels of understanding among government departments that issues such as GBV must be considered important in conflict resolution and peace building policy. 

In summation, she said that to improve the NAP process there is a need for national budget allocation to be more accessible for CSOs at national and local levels. Although it currently exists, she said the process is hindered by complex bureaucracy. 

 Mr. Ribeiro opened by noting that Timor-Leste is currently a government in the drafting process; they do not have a NAP, but are at the stage of ‘finishing touches’. He also asserted the importance of recognizing that Timor-Leste achieved independence only 15 years ago, and although it is often considered post-conflict, he said Timor-Leste would rather be called a ‘fragile state’. He said that the government is committed to implementation, however, they understand the fragility they have as a new country. He introduced his presentation and the development of their NAP as particularly within this context; though victims of war and past armed conflict, Timorese women were also contributors to peace who played an important role which should be recognized. He said the NAP must reflect the unity of the country in the midst of a traumatic past, of which he is a by-product.
Mr. Ribeiro stated that a major issue facing women and the NAP in Timor-Leste is an entrenched gender inequity within society and institutionally. He said the political and military leaders represent the favor of men and marginalize women, placing them in less visible roles. This invisibility is heightened by the trauma of the past conflict; many women are now widowed, poor and vulnerable, which in many cases leads to community discrimination, further problematizing their ability to integrate into society. He noted that GBV officially stands at 38%.
Addressing the process of formulating the NAP, Mr. Ribeiro reasserted the importance of inclusivity. This was further developed on an international level through a visit to Indonesia in May 2014. Echoing Ms. Gayatri’s previous remarks, he said they learned the importance of developing a NAP through a participatory process, and therefore Timor-Leste must provide a space for civil society. Finally, he noted that although it is a government-led process, they have learned an overarching lesson that the NAP should follow a bottom-up approach.

 Question: Thailand is planning to develop a NAP, could Indonesia provide us with a timeline vis a vis the involvement of the stakeholders? What was the time period and consultation process? How did you make it happen?
Response, Ms. Gayatri: It is important for women to have small businesses so they are not forced into conflict, and to empower them into local discussions so they are agents of peace—that is how we integrate the national ideas of the UNSCR into our local policies.
We know we have huge regional competition with the US and China, and the involvement of Indonesian forces also compromises women, but Indonesian armed forces do not necessarily reflect how Indonesia can shift to recognize our NAP. Among different Ministries there are two competing paradigms on peacebuilding: the welfare approach, taken by Ministry of Social Welfare and Ministry of Human Empowerment; and the individual approach. The task force of different ministries must coordinate to actualize under the government. Does it work? At a point it can facilitate and initiate a NAP, to allocate budgets.

In a budget sense, there is a timeline of 5 years (2014-2019). This is the timeline of implementation, but during development, consultation is taking place at the national level. We developed a national WhatsApp group for drafting, so we could coordinate and organize discussions at any time between the members of the drafting team. So, the timeline is loose. Sometimes monitoring is very strong, and sometimes the government feels offended. We can’t say this is black or white. Many women were initiators, so we had a map of influencers who could help us draft the NAP. After all, all plans in the task force needed to be implemented at some point in time.

Question: What is the assurance of implementation? Is there a need to have a resolution that equals a law? In the case of Indonesia, what would that be and where is the accountability framework?

Response, Mr. Ribeiro: Since we have a NAP on GBV, we already had a budget allocated for the implementation of a NAP. So, for us to develop the NAP we must find the gap in GBV. It’s about complementing—this NAP is not exclusive or isolated, that’s why it is important to find out what has been done on GBV. We have taken into account what has happened and how.

We developed implementation metrics based on our 4 pillars (Participation; Prevention; Protection; Peacebuilding). For example, in April, we had a problem with trouble makers who tried to destabilize the country and were attacking people in the mountains. The government had to act to avoid escalation, so they established a state of emergency which meant women in the community could not move freely. The impact was such that women took the role of their husbands—the men could not go out because the young men were being targeted. So civil society had a regular meeting every week to monitor and consult; it is important to have partnership between CSO and government. And indeed the government has provided some funds, and CSOs are free to do what they want—they have the right to criticize policy.

Response, Ms. Gayatri: Indonesia is not alien to adopting international law, such as against GBV and CEDAW. Of course, all of the Ministers are engaged in our NAP, and in each instance there is a law bureau who scrutinizes and oversees regulations or norms in international society which are arranged in Ministries. We also have a specific Law and Human Rights Ministry, and usually we harmonize our regulation protector. 

The nature of the Government is a bit difficult to access, so what we are trying to do is engage in informal pictures and ensure the planning already stated in the metrics is decided. It is very dangerous to put everything in one basket. We already had our own gender program, we already had a plan on DV, but we—including NGOs—need to be able to learn how we can specify WPS. We need to realize this can make us get lost. We are not really clear of our role; when the final draft is there and regulation has passed, what is our role? We do monitoring, yes, but it’s not enough. We need to manage the role of civil society. We do not want to just be an implementer, we have a good future, but we are still trying to see our strategy grow in the future. How can you ensure peace and security is really in your program?! No one can answer this question! I feel I have become a devil’s advocate as I question so many things. 
Question: Before you started developing the NAP, was there a need to inform people who are involved from different entities about the legal status of 1325? Some people here have talked about conventions, which it is not. 1325 does not have a legal status, so how do you affirm its importance and why it is important to develop the NAP? Not all countries are in conflict, so how do you resolve the need for an NAP?

Response, Ms. Cueva-Beteta : It is true that 1325 is not a convention, but the official line is that it is a legal norm. The resolutions of the Security Council are binding, but NAPs are not obligatory, rather they are encouraged. To those who have developed and are developing NAPs, the question I am often asked is what are other mechanisms? Is that the only one? What does it bring that others do not? I think the value of this group is discussing the arguments for and against, so I received this question, and ask what the comments are at the national level.

Ms. Cueva-Betera closed by noting the discussion on localisation. She commented that localisation is very fashionable right now, and said that she thinks we must find a way to incorporate the local approach without resorting to many different approaches that do not have a similar thread. She said finding this balance, without it being everything, is something we need to discuss and straddle. 
Finally, she noted the question on the role of CSOs in implementation. She said this could be talked about the next day through a more process-oriented discussion. She said we could discuss the role CSOs play in relief, recovery and management of GBV to find lessons for CSOs.

 Like Nepal, Ms. Rallonza began by recognizing that the Philippines has been ‘lauded’ for good practice in the Global Study. She noted her current focus as intending to institutionalize the NAP—with or without support. She noted her presentation would consist of a background to conflict in the Philippines, as well as an evaluation of the various gaps within the NAP process.

Ms. Rallonza said there are two tales of conflict in the Philippines: first, the Communist Front (CPP), driven by ideology, and secondly the Muslim Front (MILF), driven by the right to determination and toward autonomy. Outlining the roles of women in these peace processes, she noted that although the 2012 agreement with the MILF had gender and women specific agreements in light of empowerment, the government panel had no women. In contrast, the government panels which began to engage with the MILF in 2000 were led by three women. Further, the government panels engaged in talks with CPP since 1996 have had 7 women, including 2 as chairs. She noted this situation as indicative of the NAP as a useful mechanism to secure the conscious involvement of women in formal peace processes.
Like presenters before her, Ms. Rallonza affirmed the importance of civil society participation, particularly to ensure WPS is a common agenda. Noting the discussions on the need to localize WPS, she said this is the role of both governments and CSOs. Offering a Philippines example, she noted that in many remote areas and communities with armed conflict, WPS is an abstract or alien concept. However, when women are asked what it means to leave a community, they say, ‘I would bring my pots and my children’. She said if we can understand what pots and pans and children mean to women in conflict, we can know how to localize interventions and make WPS meaningful.

Beyond implementation, and picking up on Ms. Gayatri’s earlier comment on ensuring CSOs work beyond simply implementation, Ms. Rallonza noted that installing a NAP does not finalize the WPS process; it is necessary to look at how NAPs contribute to people ‘on the ground’. Finally, she said we must ensure WPS does not become a casualty of larger political processes and patriarchal mindsets. She affirmed the importance of continuing to negotiate spaces for women and ensure everyone understands WPS is within the parameters of their institutions. 

 Question: If the congress has not approved the Philippines peace agreement, is there any connection between the law and the plan?
Response, Ms. Rallonza: We must be clear that the law is an outcome of the peace process and agreement itself. The agreements in the Philippines were agreements already signed with the MILF. The law is a product of this agreement that will reconstruct the whole political, economic and societal infrastructure of conflict affected areas—this is why it must go through congress. Our constitution dictates the passage of a law must go through congress, hence why it is now stuck there. That the law will be a casualty of the basic political process is further compounded by the current election season. How does the NAP fit in? The NAP preceded the basic law, so any political process or any outcome that comes from the peace process will be within the NAP. So, whether the law passes or not, the NAP is there. The law itself is not the concern, but how to make sure women are addressed.

Question: What will be the good or bad scenarios to passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in congress, from the perspective of CSOs?

Response, Ms. Rallonza: CSOs are very aware that power structures might change. If the BBL is passed before election time (May) it depends if it is on the policy agenda. Secondly, if it gets passed, what kind of BBL will it be? Whose interests is it in? This depends on whether or not it is accepted. CSOs have been very clearly at the forefront. The Bangsamoro women themselves are highly organized in terms of pushing for the BBL, really sticking the BBL as a product of the peace process. What happens after the election, no one really knows. There is no clear indication of who would really win, whether it is at the national or local level. In some cases there are front runners, but if you can identify them then it is good, it means they’re the right people to talk to with regard to WPS, and if they take over they have something to implement. CSOs can be ‘annoying’ most of the time—they are always there—but they are becoming more sophisticated and more important in terms of power relationships. But they must strategize.

Question: As a political scientist, how do you see the regime change and autonomy of the Bangsamoro movement? A similar situation occurred in Indonesia, and there is a change in government similar to autonomous areas in the Philippines. However, the local government is now ineffective on women’s situations—there is a stall on the peace situation in the ground that totally disregards the women. They are just accessories in local politics, it is now business as usual. The government no longer has power to control this regime. For the intervention, even in terms of supporting basic human rights, it is in the hands of the government and therefore can be disregarded as intervention. 

Response, Ms. Rallonza: The autonomous region is provided by the Philippines constitution. The region was borne from a plebiscite. If the BBL is passed it means the region of Mindanao remains, it will have a regional government and 5 local governments. In terms of the relationship with the central government, decentralization is there but they are not totally disconnected. What the BBL would change is that it would move beyond the governance administrative structure—there would be elected officials, ensuring women and indigenous officials are representatives. But we do not know how it would look. It is volatile but dynamic in its current situation.

Question: In terms of a success, there was a collaboration between Human Rights, peace and women’s organizations, but at the political level that doesn’t seem to be influential. How can we incorporate and centralize that collaboration?

Response, Ms. Rallonza: The focus is on the constituents of the decision makers. At this point there is a national movement for the BBL, in terms of advancing women’s human rights for a nation-wide network. For a congress-person, man or woman, would they vote for me? That’s the reality. The decision point is not on the voices of CSOs, but on the constituency—that’s why politics sees a disconnect. So, this collective collaboration needs to be brought to the constituency. 

 Mr. Oo opened by stating that WPS in Myanmar is still in infancy, although GBV is a prevalent form of violence in the conflict. He introduced his presentation as a snapshot of women’s participation in peace negotiations to understand where women in Myanmar currently sit. 

He said women’s participation can be in two sectors: as a negotiator, or as a facilitator. The first phase of Myanmar’s peace process was a ceasefire, and women’s participation was low. In addition, Mr. Oo noted that despite women’s involvement, the conversations were largely dominated by men from a few prominent groups and the military. He attributed this to the top-down, militaristic culture in Myanmar; the issue of gender is subsumed within issues of power and responsibility. This is further apparent as women negotiators from ethnic armed groups tend to talk more than women negotiators from the government. 
Mr. Oo noted that during the peace negotiations both sides agreed on a quota of 30% women’s participation. However, he said it was instituted as a suggestion rather than a mandatory objective, due to concerns there would not be enough qualified women delegates to meet a 30% mandatory quota. As such, the first political dialogue session held 2 weeks earlier only had a women’s participation rate of 10%. He said there was a unanimous decision to continue the 30% as non-mandatory, but an understanding that both sides should try to increase participation.

Mr. Oo further stated that Myanmar is trying to promote women’s participation in ceasefire monitoring, a joint effort between government, armed groups, and civilian representatives. However, the specification of specific ranks, for example Chief of Police and Commander of Military, has ensured that at the union level it is difficult to incorporate women, given they do not hold these positions. He said there is therefore only room for women as civilian participants. He attributed these issues to a lack of women’s empowerment. 

Finally, Mr. Oo continued the theme of civil society and government collaboration, as he noted that multilateral cooperation on these issues is difficult due to the opposing relationship between civil society and government in Myanmar. He said that the negative relationship between women’s groups and government ensures that the government ignores their voices. He said this is contributing to Myanmar’s difficultly involving women in the peace process.

 Comment: I think we need to be more creative in the way we approach the negotiation process. Maybe there needs to be second-track diplomacy if diplomacy is not on the table.
Question: It was mentioned that there might not be enough qualified women in Myanmar to satisfy a 30% quota in the peace process - I think the same question came from women in Thailand. The women asked, how do we get ready to be a part of the formal process? I would like to hear more about Myanmar’s capacity building to fill quotas, if women are not participating for lack of capacity.

Question: Regarding the difficult relationship between CSOs and the government, I think this is a shared feature in peace processes because there is a new relationship. We need to find a way to be critically constructive, but the government also must accept the critical role of CSOs. What are areas in which this could move forward? How could this be facilitated? Is it just a matter of time?

Question: Why do CSOs act as opposition? Sometimes it depends on politics, on people, sometimes we must be good friends but sometimes opposition. Maybe there are some discussions about how to handle this or how to improve this situation. Can it be helped?

Comment: There is no way we will reach a relationship between governments and CSOs where we talk at the same table without having grudges, but the democratic process allows us ways to channel our disagreement. Parliament works for some things, and if it doesn’t there is a free press, there is a community watching how the parliament works—this influences the direct relationship between government ministers and civil societies. Of course at times CSOs are less democratic, but they must perform, even though there are mentalities that must be worked out. But in our government there are these mentalities also.

Question: The point that when women reach high levels, they cease to have a gender—is that good or bad? Are we still engaging in masculine, patriarchal models, and does the capacity of women exist in a different form, such that the idea that women don’t have the capacity to join in and contribute to the 30% quota is possibly a self-perpetuating problem?

Response, Mr Oo: Soon, the leader of our country will be a woman. I value her position on many specific women’s issues, and that is not necessarily among our top agendas. I was talking to a presidential advisor who is a woman, and she herself said women’s participation is not a priority. A woman in power in the Myanmar context may have a different view, they may not think it is discrimination. As long as they reach power regardless of gender, they can do the job. So, erasing the gender of the power position is common among women leaders and vocal women in Myanmar. Among the policy makers, what they see is not the discrimination caused by gender, but discrimination caused by poverty, conflict. So if we erase these elements it is good enough to empower or promote women’s issues. 

Bringing women to the negotiating tables could be problematic—not the quota itself, not the capacity building itself. The capacity building is fine, but when it comes to the quota, the real issue is not being able to find the women. 

The reason we have ceasefire monitoring is to manage the various groups. For capacity building, the government, armed groups and the international community have been supportive, but this is mostly confined to the NGO arena. So when the CSOs engage in capacity building, they are pretty much marginalized in the policy-making sphere. They became more like activists, rather than policy-influencers. So there is a disconnect between capacity building and policy making. The problem is not about capacity building, but where it is taking place. 

As for the relationship between government and CSOs, the CSO sector in Myanmar is very new. In the past, many CSOs and NGOs were either in jail or underground—not in the public sphere. During the transition they came out. A lot of them used to be arrested but now they are allowed to engage in many activities, however, they themselves felt they did not need to engage with the government. The CSOs do not want to engage with the government—the very idea is still an anomaly among CSOs in Myanmar. But hopefully when the next government comes in people will consider us a legitimate government and CSOs will engage.

Ms. Susutthi began by noting that the majority of conflict in Thailand, which occurs around the border areas in Southern provinces, features negotiation on an informal basis. Accordingly, she said the roles of women in the negotiations are similarly informal; where men are prominent at the national level (due to conceptions that the security arena is a male space), women largely participate in small groups through dialogue and opinion-sharing.
However, she noted that Thailand sends women as peacekeepers, as well as humanitarian responders and post-conflict soldiers. She said there are 119 Thai women soldiers, as well as volunteers along the border, in villages, and in informal missions. 
Ms. Susutthi asserted the extreme vulnerability of women in the Southern conflict; she said it is women who are most affected by the violence, and thus they have been empowered to become core leaders in the villages. She illustrated this as women establishing their own civil society to empower affected women and to seek justice for their families and communities from the disruptions of the conflict. Women have become arbitrators of the government, state, and the victims.

Ms. Susutthi contextualized this participation through a description of the compounding nature of the violence against women in the conflict. Rather than clear enemies, she noted that women were directly impacted through the death of their husbands, which results in increased difficulties as women become heads of families. Accordingly, she noted that what is needed is recognition. Many women mistrust representatives of the military and the state, therefore integration of women into the peace process must be prefaced by recognition of their abilities, capacities, and leadership characteristics. 

Looking to the future, Ms. Susutthi emphasized the role of the government. She said women need to be given chances to discuss and express themselves, and government agencies must meet to discuss the development of formal support, with recognition of women’s individual cultural and religious needs. She additionally noted the need for budget support, particularly for training for capacity building. Finally, she suggested a plan for recognition through International Women’s Day celebrations and the creation of a Woman of the Year award to inspire and motivate women’s peacebuilding work.
Question: There may be an implementation of Islamic Law in Thailand; how did the CSOs react to this? If Sharia Law is being demanded, that is a big warning. What kind of Sharia Law would they like, even though there is no good example of Sharia Law in any form around the world? I know that some are really eager to learn about Aceh, even though it has been a big failure. 
Comment: It was a request specifically from the Aceh community not for an Islamic State but simply for independence. Sharia was seen as a compromise but it was considered a mistake because it created asymmetry within the state.
Response, Ms. Susutthi: Sharia Law may conflict with the equality of women in the peace building process. Therefore, we try to promote men to see gender equality and we will give them knowledge. We have training processes about the law, about the legislation, act, violence in the family, and which laws will protect women or family members. In equality there is no violence, so we are trying to create recognition of equality, yet peace in the family is against the law. This is difficult, and Sharia Law cannot be overturned overnight. Acceptance takes time.
Ms. Chirizzi introduced her presentation as guided by looking at certain documents (CEDAW GR 33) and plural justice systems, rather than a specific country study. She noted that access to justice is a particularly multilayered situation with multiple actors involved, therefore it is particularly important to ensure women have real and informed choices concerning the applicable law and judicial forum within which they would prefer their claims to be heard. She said women must be able to claim their rights, through the engagement of qualified local support staff to provide assistance. 
Accordingly, she said a paramount recommendation is to ensure a comprehensive approach to transitional justice, including truth commissions and reparations—both of which must be gender-sensitive. Ms. Chirizzi noted that reparations play an important role, however, it is important to ensure support for reconciliation processes do not result in blanket amnesties for any human rights violations, particularly GBV. In effect, she asserted the importance of ensuring women’s perspectives are reflected in each part of transitional justice. Women must be involved in the design, operation and monitoring of transitional justice mechanisms, and she urged the participants to ensure women do not suffer discrimination under formal mechanisms in patriarchal societies.
Illustrating her statement that transitional justice initiatives are likely to reflect only men’s concerns, Ms. Chirizzi offered the example of Timor-Leste, where sexual violence was only addressed when women were consulted. Moving on to a discussion of reparations, she further noted the influence of patriarchy within process. She said that we must ensure reparations processes and benefits are subversive to structural discrimination enabling GBV and SV. She offered two examples, stating that in Morocco and Tunisia respectively, concepts of “heir” and discriminatory inheritance laws were reformed so as not to interrupt equality within the reparation process.
Ms. Rallonza stated that efforts of truth and reconciliation in the Philippines have historically been ineffective at addressing the multilayered experiences of women in conflict. She provided three main examples: the 1993 truth commission; the 1996 human rights commission; and the 2013 legislation on human rights and establishments of the human rights claims board. Accordingly, the ineffectiveness of the first two was largely due to limited scope—they could not look at human rights violations in the context of armed conflict. However, the overarching key which binds each example is that none specifically and deeply looked from the perspective of women. She told the story of asking one simple question: “do you gender disaggregate your data?”—highlighting this as the key to knowing the claims of women. The transitional justice final report was submitted in December 2015; it discusses historical injustice, human rights violations, as well as marginalizations through land—all from a gender perspective. She said it could be groundbreaking.
Since implementing the NAP, Ms. Rallonza said the Philippines has developed strong advocacy in VAW, improved existing access to justice, and increased possibilities through special mechanisms such as the TJRC, however, there are significant gaps. She noted the increased need for nuancing of VAW. As it stands, for widows there is no capacity to support their children, and therefore their prominent concern is not who killed their husband, but how to send their children to school. It is these gendered concerns that are not covered by traditional ideas of justice—without consideration of women’s opinions and experiences, horizontal conflict is forgotten in favor of formal ideas of conflict and non conflict-related VAW. 
Ms. Rallonza closed by noting that although institutionalized policies are there, they are not internalized. She described this as a real problem of perspective; the need to understand women’s experiences of conflict within notions of ‘armed conflict’ or ‘social conflict’ does not truly formulate a complete understanding of what makes women insecure.  She stated that what is necessary is the compete operationalization of WPS.
Comment: We are not just talking about conflict, but what makes women insecure. We should not simplify the violence that women feel. Not to simplify the issue, but it is eventually about power—who has it, who is willing to give it up, and the battle against patriarchal notions.

Comment: Justice does come sooner or later, and if one looks at the question of justice including issues like reparations, issues of justice and gender issues are not mutually exclusive.
Question: To keep the peace, to deescalate possibilities of conflict, we may use ‘informal’ mechanisms. But we must also acknowledge when that is not respecting women’s human rights. We’ve seen cases where women have been helped but also hurt—how do we find the middle ground?
Question: Regarding the question of transitional settings and GBV in conflict and post-conflict, what happens after when rule of law is still being established? And how particularly should GBV be dealt with within post-conflict settings when it will not be given the ‘benefits’ of transitional justice mechanisms? The CEDAW Committee recommends against particular informal mechanisms for GBV, so where should the line be drawn post-conflict?

Response, Ms. Rallonza: Informal justice systems are often not helpful for women. The justice mechanism for a crime that is committed may have silenced women, but when it comes to the process, women are actually there. It is not black and white, it is contextual. You cannot draw the line or define definitely and absolutely, because an armed conflict community may experience the same conflict situation, but the impact will be different. 

The Philippines is not really post-conflict, it is ongoing. If we are trying to pinpoint access to justice, it boils down to the legal and formal system, which women will definitely not go to. It takes time, resources, and the court is too far away! Something I have been telling government is please do not let the people come to government, the government should come to the people. If something happens in the farthest area, it will take them a day to travel simply to report what happens to them. This requires resources, time away from their families, and they may suffer from conflict and violence while travelling. This is the process of the formal justice system. There must be a more people-centered and creative approach in terms of ensuring women have access to justice in whatever form of violence women have experienced.

Response, Ms. Perreira: Since 2000 in Timor-Leste, we have had a serious crimes process which includes a public hearing session, and one is particularly dedicated to women’s issues. In these hearings we settle issues at the district level wherein there is an informal meeting with the perpetrators (of petty crimes). It is important that women have spaces for their cases, and the important thing that has happened is coordination with CSOs working for women’s crimes and how to organize women victims. I think it is a good process but we have 853 counts of sexual violence composed of 393 rape cases, 229 sex slavery cases, 231 other forms of sexual violence, and wholly it is starting the process of investigation. Now, we have a problem that women are still waiting for justice, the process is not just too far but too long, creating inter-community mistrust which impacts the peace process, but we have no other solution. Women see their perpetrators but they cannot do anything. The impact is not good but it is a problem we face and a situation we hope will change. Timorese women want to speak out - to talk, be strong and advocate for their rights.

Comment: In the Jakarta Resolution context, there is a problem in the sense of perspective in seeing VAW in all structures. Whether vertical or horizontal, establishing institutions to receive complaints have been there. With regard to the conflict situation, we already have that in our NAP, however, there is a national discourse with regard to sexual issues which establishes women as objectives of national advertising. There is a big fallacy with regard to the actors during conflict and post-conflict. All-in-all, the central government has discriminated against women. In Aceh women cannot wear jeans or go into coffee shops, even though this is a cultural habit. But based on Sharia Law, which does not represent all the people, this is the case. There is a national reconciliation commission but there is no way past cases can be addressed soon, but monitoring groups are still watching and monitoring for the government to do something. There is a situation where VAW sits at the national level outside of the conflict zone.

Question: I am thinking of the situation in Thailand, and I want to ask if religion is the dominant cause of the conflict and if some of the principles impede upon women’s access to justice. To what extent do you have to respect religious differences?

Comment: There is general consensus that as you go ahead in the establishment of transitional justice, you need to look at broader reforms, and when you look at this you look at the justice system and security sector reform. We are looking at many pieces of the same puzzle but I would say that institutional reform is the building block and must go hand in hand with the transitional justice process.

Response, Ms. Rallonza: In the Philippines there are several characteristics of the conflict situation—it can be ideological but also about religion. There is a lot of nostalgia, but reconstructing and simplifying the armed conflict religious situation is a narrative about repression and self-determination. Religion was a very convenient excuse for a lot of things. What is important for us is to nuance our analysis. What was really the beginning? What was really the cause? With regard to women, is it the cultural aspect or the religious aspect? It is not this simple. Religion can be an empowering tool. Women leaders in Islamic schools are very open, but we also must negotiate within the parameters of culture and religion to make it a process that is owned by them.

Justice is also a restorative process. Impunity must be addressed. There are a lot of institutional mechanisms, and we have really seen this impact on women. But this is an ongoing process, let’s be kind to ourselves.

Comment: I think the key factor which resonated with me is: what makes women insecure—in and outside conflict areas? What about the parts of the country not in direct armed conflict, yet women are insecure because of certain identities? This is important for us and accountability cannot be mentioned enough at the individual and the state level. Women’s involvement in designing and monitoring transitional justice has been mentioned. Let’s be kind to ourselves, we have mechanisms and good practices, but not just on paper, these must work for women in the countries. Justice delayed is justice denied and we cannot have that happen. We need peace, but it cannot be at the cost of women’s access to justice.

 Building on the previous day’s discussion of language in Indonesia’s NAP implementation, Ms. Kholifah began by discussing the discourse around fundamentalism and extremism. She stated that in productive discussion of peace and root causes of conflict, it is important to use the term fundamentalism rather than extremism, which refers more to the act and is closer to the term terrorism.
Ms. Kholifah introduced her presentation by discussing the complexities behind the emergence of fundamentalism. She said structural poverty and remoteness can lead to state-neglect, which allows collectives such as the Islamic State to appear as appealing new models of government. However, she also stated the importance of knowing the diversities of fundamentalism in Indonesia. She noted that the roots of fundamentalism are in terrorist groups, hardliner-militia, Ulama Council, political parties, and Islamic group study. There is no ‘one’ fundamentalism or fundamentalist group. 

From a gender perspective, the conservative and patriarchal mindsets of many fundamentalist beliefs can result in direct and/or indirect violence towards women. Ms. Kholifah noted that the maternal mortality rate is high as groups promote child birth to increase the number of believers, as well as early marriage in order to increase levels of reproduction. She also highlighted the issue of FGM and its connection to notions of ‘purity’. Finally, she noted the ongoing problems of VAW and SV. 
Looking toward counter-fundamentalist strategies, Ms. Kholifah mentioned the importance of resisting the concept of counter-terrorism used by the government. Using a WPS framework, she said we must not focus on technical discussions of policing to create peace, rather we should concern ourselves with structure and culture. She affirmed the importance of dialogue, particularly knowledge production on women-friendly interpretations of intersecting Islamic/women’s issues, such as hijab, polygamy, women’s leadership, marriage, abortion and LGBT issues. Highlighting the danger of fundamentalist reinterpretations of Islamic text, she said we must take a wide spectrum to the problem that moves beyond the individual. For Ms. Kholifah’s organization, AMAN, this involves commitment at the grassroots, including the engagement of women in weekly classes, community organizing, and focusing on the family—the smallest unit in society, but a key to creating less resistance.
Ms. Pihei stated the biggest challenge women in AROB face is capacity. Recalling Mr. Oo’s earlier discussion on the difference between capacity and discrimination, she noted that to discuss peacebuilding and nation building in AROB, it is necessary to find out the root causes of why women are not fully participating in peacebuilding. She said she has been doing work from inside and outside the government since 2004, and her most important observation is that AROB must build strong women with the capacity to face challenges. 
Ms. Pihei noted that alongside widespread GBV, civilian deaths and displacement, high levels of PTSD and mental illness are critical issues to address within discussions of conflict in AROB. She warned that mental disorder becomes generational when it is not dealt with—children born now are driven into PTSD disorders, therefore trauma is a critical issue for peacebuilding.
Returning to her discussion on absences of women in peacebuilding, she noted a distinctly women-centric form of peace negotiation during conflict. She said that during the fighting period, no men would go out and talk, rather they would send women. However, upon normalcy women were pushed back into their kitchens, silenced despite being instrumental to peace within the region. Telling the story of her own involvement in peacebuilding, she affirmed the importance of empowerment, stating that women must take the front lines in changing concepts and changing perceptions.

Although women’s organizations are active in peacebuilding through dialogue—creating spaces for themselves outside the front lines and institutions—she affirmed the importance of women’s participation in formal initiatives. Ms. Pihei stated that through implementing the NAP she hopes women can develop their roles and increase their representation at the executive level to ensure the government addresses women’s wants and needs, particularly the significant yet silenced issue of GBV. Going forward, she said it is necessary to commit to pushing through walls, unifying ideas, and building a peaceful environment in order for the people of AROB to unite and vote for independence in 2019. 

 Ms. Perreira began by recounting the story of Marcelina, a Timorese woman who was the ‘wife’ of soldiers during the occupation. Marcelina suffered sexual violence, lost all her family, and faces ongoing discrimination against her children because of the violence against her during the occupation. She noted that Marcelina is not an extraordinary case; there are many women like Marcelina, and many children like Marcelina’s, who face ongoing discrimination. Many women continue to be persecuted because of GBV and must carry the burden of discrimination against their children, who are often denied education. She noted that this situation occurs despite regulatory systems and laws.
Ms. Perreira drew attention to access to services as an important issue facing women in Timor-Leste. Women are marginalized from government benefits and unable to access health, psychosocial or economic support services. She noted 2012 research from the Victim’s Association which showed that of 39 victims interviewed, less than half were receiving government benefits. Like Mr. Ribeiro’s assertion that women were important contributors to independence, she noted that although they provided assistance, Timor-Leste’s veterans scheme marginalizes women’s involvement. In conjunction, there is a lack of access to services for ongoing support as the government’s DV strategy simply focuses on current victims. Victims from the past must therefore live with the compounding and interrelated consequences of violence. Furthermore, women’s social and economic vulnerability is increased as their fathers, sons and husbands are killed, disappeared or detained. 
Addressing these issues, she highlighted the need for ongoing, community-based trauma support, similarly to Ms. Pihei’s previous comments on ensuring issues of mental health are central to ongoing peace processes. Discussing further mechanisms, Ms. Perreira noted the need to support strategies for recognition. She said her organization is focusing on documenting women’s stories and innovative methods to encourage women to talk. She described monthly meetings and the creation of timelines of women’s participation in order to overcome biased research that focuses simply on the history of soldiers. Overall, she described the need for empowerment—strengthening women as survivors to promote peace and to help them as agents of change. 

Finally, she noted the importance of recognition outside the victim/hero paradigm. Rather than favoring veterans over victims, she said it is important to support commemoration of events and mark the sites of violence specific to women to increase the knowledge and visible history of their experiences—recognition without support is not recognition. 

Ms. Martin said that through her presentation she wanted to challenge the perception that 1325 is simply about peace processes, stating her intention to challenge the artificial divide of ‘development’ and ‘humanitarian’. Accordingly, she said the divide between humanitarian and disaster agencies and the closed doors on women’s groups has led to a stagnant process of relief and recovery. She noted the problem of communication—organizations claim they are unable to speak to grassroots women’s groups, but in fact the groups are out there, doing things on the ground, and are simply made invisible by limited perspectives and short-term responses.

Further problematized by the tendency of disaster response to ignore gender, she noted the compounding effect; women are not involved in humanitarian response, and thus are left unskilled in post-conflict disaster and humanitarian work. In response, Ms. Martin described the possibilities of inclusion: to incorporate women into disaster/humanitarian response is to invest in economic livelihoods—women gain leadership skills and explore non-traditional roles through participation, thus creating economic livelihoods that are denied through the unfortunately short-term application of many 1325 events. 
Continuing the theme of incorporating women in order to recognize women’s needs, Ms. Martin noted that work must be done to build the capacity of the security sector to adequately respond to GBV in emergencies. She asserted that police and military must understand GBV, as these are often first responders in emergencies. Lack of understanding often leads to shelters that are not gender-mindful, particularly towards adolescent girls, therefore establishing circular systems of VAW. In response, she noted that having more women in the troops and more women as responders could mitigate sexual exploitation and abuse.
 As the only woman minister within the AROB House of Representatives, Hon. Getsi noted the widespread exclusion of women in key decision making, despite constituting half of the AROB population. Picking up on Ms. Pihei’s earlier comment on women’s prolific participation in informal and adjacent peacebuilding spaces, Hon. Getsi noted that women’s limited representation in formal spaces ensures that when it comes to policy representing, she is often unsupported. As the Minister for Community Development, she introduced her presentation as a gender-mindful response to AROB’s high levels of crisis risk which undermine development gains.

She noted five major issues interrupting AROB’s community development: inequalities; social fragmentation; armed violence; chronic tribal and ethnic fighting; and natural disasters. She noted that these are not general-neutral problems, highlighting the heightened impact natural disasters have on women and children, particularly due to displacement. Signaling relief as an instrument of peace, Hon. Getsi noted that although international aid is greatly needed, women’s groups have responded to disaster in intuitive ways. She said that following the PNGDF Blockade, Bougainvilleans responded to the severe hardship through reliance on their own skills, knowledge and environment to survive, for example distilling fuel from coconut milk.

Though many discussions of localization were had throughout the EGM, Hon. Getsi noted the importance of international women’s networks in development. She affirmed the importance of relief from international women’s groups to AROB’s development, and offered tourism as a potential route for economic recovery. She noted that increases in tourism would particularly benefit women as it could provide a key sector for their employment, which would boost household incomes and strengthen resilience, particularly at the community level. Finally, she highlighted the insufficient capacity of individuals, finishing on the note that there is a need for ongoing humanitarian assistance. Though no longer in the midst of the crisis, NGOs and the AROB government must continue to push in order to provide much needed community services.

Ms. Aung began her presentation by noting that conflict affects men, women, boys and girls differently and requires tailored responses. Like Mr. Ribeiro said of Timor-Leste, she recognized the 4 Pillars (Participation; Prevention; Protection; and Post-conflict Reconstruction) as forming Myanmar’s approach to women and conflict resolution. She said that only women represent what women really need; she declared that over 50% of Myanmar is women, so to leave out their voices is to achieve only 49% of the process.
In the case of Myanmar, Ms. Aung also noted the national efforts to include women in peace monitoring and de-mining operations. Furthermore, she highlighted efforts to ensure women-friendly conditions in IDP camps. However, she also noted that it is necessary to include women in the peace processes, referencing a study (Shalom Foundation in Yangon) of 86 senior to mid-level women leaders which found that 71% said men cannot fully articulate women’s needs and concerns in conflict. Highlighting the particular needs of women in emergencies, she stated that it is necessary to
  • Increase women’s access to basic needs and productive assets
  • Include women and their priorities in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement
  • Include all Ministries and the community in a climate change program
  • Make everyone aware of traditional influences and particularities of ethnic groups
Speaking on Myanmar’s future plans for WPS, she drew attention to the work of the Myanmar Peace Centre, which has established the following:
  • 2012 and 2013: Civil Society Forum for Peace; First and Second Voice of Women’s Forum
  • 2013: Open Day on Women, Peace and Security
  • December 2013: National Women’s Dialogue; Women, Peace, Security and Development
However, she also noted that there is much work to be done, particularly as Myanmar does not have a NAP.
 Question: The Beijing Platform for Action was mentioned in the Myanmar program document. How do you use this framework for women in emergencies? Why did you use this language?
Response, Ms. Aung: I am able to raise my voice in a limited frame. At the time of creating this program there was a conflict, so when we tried to implement the program, given the emergencies and national priorities, gender was a very new issue for our nation—we are at the infancy stage of gender equality. Let’s expand our ideas of emergency for this case to include armed conflict. 

Question: Bougainville is matrilineal, doesn’t this suggest women are empowered?

Response, Ms. Pihei: Bougainville is mostly matrilineal, but we have two districts that are patrilineal. The question we are asking now and the question I have been asking matrilineal districted women, is how come women are not making the decisions, specifically in regard to land? In the olden days, women made decisions on land specifically; this matriarchal society refers to land ownership. The challenge for women now is to finalize this question. Until we know why that is so, we must come up with strategies to make women become the head decision makers in those matriarchal societies. I come from a patriarchal society but I can influence people because of my work in peace building. I don’t think it’s anything to do with patriarchal or non-patriarchal, it is about building capacity, bringing women up, engaging them in community development, so we can be seen at the national level.

Question: Why is civil society in Myanmar against government? Is it a legal or cultural problem?

Response, Ms. Aung: This is not legal or even cultural, it is simply the political situation. Our country lived under the military government for three decades, so CSOs cannot provide the full provisions—in every situation, like emergencies, efforts to end conflict, vocational training and even formal education, we depend on the provision of governments, so it makes the people the opposition.

Question: Are there any opportunities to advance in emergencies?

Response, Ms. Kholifah: We know CEDAW has potential to look at women in conflict areas and how we can use it from a legal perspective, because CEDAW has mechanisms of accountability. So far the discussion is still separate between 1325 and GR30. I acknowledge that other documents, such as the Beijing Platform for Action, have value as a framework. How we blend these documents is important; when we talk about 1325 it is not a solidified document. Governments should recognise it and use it as a part of a broader instrument.

 Ms. Cueva-Beteta closed by noting the challenges of advancing the WPS agenda. She recognised that sometimes governments do not want to work on 1325, but drew attention to the discussion on language and terminology on day one of the EGM, stating that sometimes something as simple as changing the title of a policy document can allow progression.
In wrapping up, she noted two main points:

First, she said the EGM would result in a report highlighting some of the main discussion points. She particularly referenced the first day’s comments on the role of CSOs beyond monitoring and the queries over the capacity of CSOs beyond implementation. She noted that the EGM has not ended but furthered the conversation, that there are further questions that need to be answered and discussed. She paid tribute to the power of the testimonies offered throughout the discussions, stating that conflicts are about experiences of power, and although the participants work on the system, it must always be people-centric. She said it is necessary to provide support to those that have actually been affected.

Secondly, she noted that everyone touched upon the issue of human rights defenders, and this topic was linked to issues around family violence and fundamentalism, although it is an unfinished conversation. She particularly highlighted it as an area in need of ideas. 

Finally, she thanked all the participants for their patience and their contributions, noting her hope for future discussions and meetings.

 The overarching themes identified during the EGM included:
  • localization efforts must ensure conflict-affected women are reached, including through access to basic services;
  • cultivating healthy relationships between Government and civil society to implement WPS is vital and requires special attention in fragile and transitioning states;
  • space must be created for CSOs to work beyond the implementation phase of WPS alone;
  • budgeting and setting timelines for implementation of WPS is of paramount importance;
  • emerging thematic areas that have not been traditionally included in NAPs but may need to be addressed include climate change and displacement;
  • women’s participation in all elements of the WPS agenda remains critical and must move beyond considerations of representation in peace processes alone and ensure that all elements of the peace cycle - from engagement in ceasefire monitoring processes, to participation in humanitarian response, and as beneficiaries of economic recovery initiatives - are all prioritized.  
 The launch of the Global Study received a high level of media coverage, attracting international journalists and resulting in interviews and reports in publications including The Singapore Time, The Straits Times and Prachatai English (Annex 5: Media Advisory). 
Both UN Women Global office and the Regional Office for Asia Pacific generated a large amount of online and social media coverage, including publicizing the innovative ‘graphic illustrations’ that had been produced during the EGM: (http://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2016/01/where-are-the-women-in-the-peace-process). 

Annex 1: EGM Participant List
Annex 2: Agenda
Annex 3: Guiding questions for discussion
Annex 4: Global Study Asia-Pacific Fact Sheet. 

Annex 5: Media Advisory. 

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