No peace without women: Rapid Response Window strengthens women in peace processes

Women at the negotiating table

Sustainable peace: with women at the negotiating table, agreements are more inclusive and more sustainable, © Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

14.01.2021 - Article

Women work invisibly behind the scenes to promote peace, but they are often underrepresented in formal peace negotiations. A new United Nations funding mechanism aims to change this. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is taking part in today’s online launch of the Rapid Response Window.

Invisible work for peace: women in crisis regions

In many crisis regions, women play an important role in peace processes: they negotiate with militia groups to free their children. They create safe spaces for their communities. They negotiate humanitarian corridors to ensure access to food supplies, often long before aid organisations arrive on the scene. Often this work goes unnoticed.

Resolution 1325: peace talks are more successful if women are involved

Only rarely do women play an official role in formal peace negotiations. When the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on 31 October 2000 that focused on the role of women in peace and security processes, it was celebrated by many as a sensation. For the first time, the Security Council confirmed that the involvement of women in creating and preserving peace is crucial and that peace is more stable and more sustainable when women sit at the negotiating table. Conflict prevention, peace processes and post-conflict peacebuilding were thereby acknowledged as women’s and therefore human rights.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said:

History has shown us this: peace negotiated by women is more successful.

Practical obstacles: cost of travel, visa procedures, childcare

Sometimes the reasons why women do not participate in peace negotiations are very practical ones. The cost of travel is prohibitive, there are difficulties with processing visas, or there is no available childcare during their absence. The new Rapid Response Window launched by the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund aims to tackle these practical problems. It is designed to overcome concrete, practical hurdles and provide targeted support to enable women to take part in peace negotiations. Comparatively small amounts of funding will help women with their travel expenses, visa applications or short-term childcare. Training courses in negotiating techniques can also be financed, in order to prepare the women as thoroughly as possible for peace processes.

Germany providing a million euro for the Rapid Response Window

The Rapid Response Window was launched today with an online event in which Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Belgian and Norwegian colleagues took part. Other participants included UN and civil-society representatives. Germany is the Rapid Response Window’s biggest donor, providing a million euro.

Organisations have been able to apply for funding since September 2020. Three projects – two in Afghanistan and one in Mali – have received support in this initial phase. In Afghanistan, the Rapid Response Window is supporting two civil-society initiatives to involve women in the peace negotiations in Doha; in Mali, it is about supporting the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement.

Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which has launched the Rapid Response Window, was established in 2016. It helps local women’s organisations around the world to participate in peace processes and to strengthen their role in the humanitarian sector and in emergency aid. Germany has contributed 9.1 million euro to the Fund to date. Much of this has been used during the COVID-19 pandemic to help women’s organisations weather this difficult period.

Commitment in the UN Security Council against sexual violence in conflicts

Another major aspect of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, alongside getting women involved in peace negotiations, is protecting women against sexual violence. This subject, too, is an important policy goal for Germany: during its term on the UN Security Council, for example, Germany issued an important signal in the fight against sexual violence in conflict with Resolution 2467. Germany will continue to support the Agenda resolutely in future.


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