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Vienna lecture

`Women, Peace, and Security’ and Peace Processes: One Agenda or Many?

As part of the ASPR Vienna Lecture series, the ASPR organised a debate on WPS agenda on 5 June 2019in collaboration with Women in International Security (WIIS) Austria. The debate was run in a question and answer format where the five panellists from both an academic and a practitioner background shared their insights based on their research and experience on the challenges as well as the opportunities for implementation of the WPS agenda.

Discussing the hindrances of WPS agenda implementation, the following issues were highlighted: Firstly, since women are usually not part of the problem and conflict, their presence and interests are treated as peripheral issues like what is happening now in Afghanistan in the peace talks with the Taliban. Secondly, there is a persistent perception that women are not influential, hence they cannot be part of the negotiation and mediation processes. This often takes away the attention of the stakeholders from women and their interests. However, the mere presence of some women may not necessarily represent women’s interest because some women may represent any interests other than women’s concerns. Therefore, it is crucial to pick the women who are committed to the women’s rights agenda.

In order to promote this agenda, the political will of the leadership of the states, regional and international organizations needs to be strengthened. They can champion women’s rights more effectively in their institutions as anecdotal evidences reveal. Although some studies show that the presence of women in the peace negotiations and agreements, leads to more durable peace, the panellists agreed that this area is under-researched and needs to be further researched to substantiate such claims.

In response to a question ‘one agenda or many?’, most participants agreed that for effectively promoting gender equality in the peace and security context, it is pivotal to note it as multiple agenda as the aim, content and contexts differ which necessitate different agenda fitting different needs that derive in different contexts. However, one agenda with various strategies is another option to treat this issue. One of the recommendations to promote the WPS agenda was the ‘carrot and stick’ approach, i.e. to conditionalise the aid to the recipient countries based on the extent of their attention to this agenda. The countries that implement this agenda seriously should be rewarded, whereas the countries denigrating this agenda should be penalised by cutting the aid.

In cooperation with