I sat in a meeting with local and international partners to discuss women’s (and girls’) security issues in Kosovo. It was the usual kinda stuff: reviewing a report together, discussing a donor proposal, updating each other on the activities we’re involved in to promote gender equality. One international partner brought up the ongoing border conflict in Northern Kosovo, where Kosovo Serbs are blockading the border in protest of the Kosovo government’s trade embargo on Serbia. Politics aside we discussed the importance of women being present at the border to be part of the day-to-day negotiations to stop violence from flaring up.
You see, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 in 2000. Among other things, this document recognizes the distinct impact of war on women and girls, and their unique role in preventing conflict.
Why were 30 or so women and one token man sitting around the table debating how to prevent conflict at the border, within the context of this resolution, when up at the border itself, international peacekeepers, mostly if not all men, seemed to be ignoring it themselves? Well, we could get into a lengthy debate about the lack of gender sensitivity in peace keeping missions etc. etc. But, surely, women and girls can have a positive ‘effect’ on preventing conflict at a border, even if the European and international officials still have not recognized the importance of the ‘girl effect’ in peace keeping.
The debate has stuck with me for days, especially considering how international institutions often fail to meet the human rights standards they’ve put in place themselves …. Yes, yes, there is another more complex debate about the ethics of international aid/development, but let’s leave that for another time, another post.
As I planned in my mind to write this post, it was announced that three women won the Nobel Peace Prize. It gives us hope that the ‘girl effect’ and the crucial role women and girls can play in peace-keeping efforts is beginning to be recognized, if not in Kosovo by European and international actors, then at least elsewhere.
This post is part of the online blogathon initiated by Tara Sophia Mohr to raise awareness about gender equality. You can learn more about her blogging initiative here to join in, and also about the wider Girl Effect campaignhere.