These women are the giants on whose shoulders we stand on today


The women presented in this dossier are living proof of the difference, the big improvements we can make if we strengthen female and diverse voices in peace and security. – The use of Resolution 1325 in the EU. An overview by Dr. Hannah Neumann.

Women in Libia demonstrating with banners
Teaser Image Caption
On 2007 International Women's Day, participants march towards the Liberian Supreme Court in Monrovia, where they staged a peaceful sit-in protest against gender-based violence.

This piece is part of our dossier "No Women - No Peace: 20th Anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security".

Twenty years ago, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. It was a landmark resolution, and its aims have been translated into numerous strategies and action plans. Courageous women have changed the way we deal with conflict and crisis on the local, national and international levels. Many were ridiculed in the beginning, but the idea of a Feminist Foreign Policy, which gives equal representation to women and fights discriminatory patterns in foreign and security policy, is growing.

In 2014, Sweden was the first country worldwide to introduce a Feminist Foreign Policy. Six years later, the number of countries has grown, with Canada, France, Mexico and Luxembourg announcing or introducing similar policies. Feminism in foreign policy does not seem to be such a ‘foreign’ concept anymore.

The women featured in this dossier are a testimony to everything which has been achieved. As a woman politician in foreign and security policy, and someone who is passionate about promoting women’s role in peace and conflict resolution, I am amazed by the impressive track records of the women presented in this compilation. They are the giants on whose shoulders I and so many others stand on today.

Political decisions are better the more diverse the people are who make them

But unfortunately, we are still far from having attained the goal laid down in Resolution 1325: women’s equal and full participation in peace and security. I can witness this almost daily: whenever I go to meetings, conferences or seminars dealing with foreign policy and security questions, I know that most certainly I will be one of the few women in the room.

What is the reason for this? It cannot be due to a lack of good arguments. Political decisions are better the more diverse the people are who make them. This is especially true in conflict and crisis regions. We do know how effective women’s participation in the sector is: when it comes to peace processes, having women at the table makes these processes 64% less likely to fail, and the resulting peace treaties 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.

So, the reason can only be a lack of political will. We see this in the actions (or non-action) of the states which ratified the resolution. Let’s take the topic of action plans: the resolution asks all states to adopt national action plans for implementation. However, as of January 2020, only 44% of member states have written such a plan, 84 member states in total. Out of the 84 states, only 28 – one third – actually allocated budget for the implementation of those plans.

Initiative report on a Feminist Foreign Policy for the EU to be adopted in plenary

There’s still a long way to go to make the ideas behind Resolution 1325 a reality. We need to move down this road much faster in the next 20 years, and what we need is a strong, renewed commitment of states to the principles laid down in the resolution. They need to step up their game, eg by

  • Inviting women and representatives of civil society to participate in peace processes

  • Strengthening national legislation on gender equality and parity

  • Keeping financial commitments, also at an international level, and earmarking funding for gender equality and empowerment projects

  • Increasing women’s representation in peacekeeping, as well as armed forces, police and diplomacy

As a member of the European Parliament, I am fighting for these goals on a European level. An initiative report on a Feminist Foreign Policy for the EU, introduced by my colleague Ernest Urtasun and me, has been approved in both the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights with large majorities across the political spectrum, and now awaits its adoption in plenary. A study commissioned by us on the topic shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement on the EU level. Right now, I am trying to make sure that the third version of the EU’s Gender Action Plan, which lays down the EU’s approach to gender equality through external action, will include a chapter dedicated to ‘Women, Peace and Security’. I am also trying to have it become a binding document that guides EU action.

The time seems to be ripe for taking a leap. The women presented in this dossier are living proof of the difference, the big improvements we can make if we strengthen female and diverse voices in peace and security. And they are my daily inspiration to push the EU to advocate for a strong Women, Peace and Security agenda at home and on the international level. The EU’s foreign policy must become feminist. And states everywhere in the world should follow the examples of Sweden, Canada, France, Mexico and Luxembourg. These states have shown the way – the women presented in this dossier are evidence enough that following this course means following a course of success.