Reimagining Peace through the Women, Peace and Security Agenda
By Ms Fleur Heyworth, Head of Gender and Inclusive Security
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s recent annual report on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) stated that the world is “experiencing a reversal of generational gains in women’s rights while violent conflicts, military expenditures, military coups, displacements and hunger continue to increase”. In July 2023the Secretary-General released a policy brief entitled A New Agenda for Peace (NA4P) in support of his Our Common Agenda report and the Summit of the Future due to take place in 2024. Both place the rights and full participation of women and girls at the centre of a more peaceful and sustainable world; indeed, evidence repeatedly proves that more gender-equitable societies are inherently more peaceful and less prone to violence. Yet tensions around the normative status of the WPS Agenda remain that are symbolic of the tensions at the heart of our multilateral system more broadly and divisions over the future vision and priorities for our collective security.
The NA4P integrates a feminist perspective by making bold calls for the dismantling of oppressive structures, particularly the patriarchy, and a transformation of power, yet its recommendations are not new and would not be sufficient to transform power structures. This GCSP Policy Brief analyses the security challenges of today and what we can learn from the achievements and shortcomings of the WPS Agenda, in particular the recent (and current) intentional and unintentional backsliding. It then looks at potential areas for innovation and the strengthening of the WPS Agenda in support of the NA4P. Ultimately, it shows that the NA4P will likely be confronted with the same challenges faced by the WPS Agenda in a period of securitisation and militarisation unless there is a paradigm shift in the security imagination to prioritise human security, elevate the role of women in state security structures, and provide direct funding and resources to realise both agendas.
Fleur Heyworth leads the GCSP's executive education, dialogue and policy analysis on gender and inclusive security. Working closely with the Geneva Leadership Alliance, she designs and facilitates courses on leadership for women, and for male and female leaders to create more inclusive working environments. She also delivers modules on gender and inclusive security to the multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural participants on GCSP's core courses, incorporating the frameworks of the Women Peace and Security Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals.