Sri Wiyanti Eddyono on the last 20 years of women’s participation in peace and security

by Sri Wiyanti Eddyono

Presenting in Monash GPS and AMAN webinar session, 22 October 2020.

Where has women’s participation in peace and security seen the greatest impact over the last 20 years? And what meaningful women’s participation would you like in the next decade?

One would expect that in 20 years of 1325 UNSCR there has been significant change in women’s participation in peace and security. However, whether such change has been effective can be examined from two aspects: developing a Plan of Action in a national and provincial level, and implementation of the Plan of Action.

The situation in Indonesia is not dissimilar to experiences of South East Asian countries and other regions.  Although the participation of women in mediating or peace keeping is visible in the community level, they may still not be involved in policy and decision-making processes where peace keeping plans and programs are government run.  There are very low rates of participation in women developing or implementing National Action Plans in provincial levels.

In Indonesia’s national context, the ‘National Action Plans for the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Children during Social Conflicts in 2014-2019’ was established by the Presidential Regulation No. 18/2014. This was followed by  the development of 15 Provincial Women in Social Conflict Action Plan as important steps in the local autonomy contexts.

Perhaps in different contexts, this may be viewed as significant policy showing the government has intention to integrate gender perspectives. Yet, we do not expect that the establishment of such policy will bring direct impact to women. In Indonesia, contexts of law and policy can only be regarded as accessories as the government establishes policy and later fails to implement it. Such ‘business as usual’ culture becomes a great barrier to meaningful participation of women in peace and security.

There are issues I want to highlight. First, with regard to the process in developing provincial plans. Through the NGOs evaluation process, it was found that most NGOs were established by the government with very limited participation by women and women’s organisations. Only a few of provinces established its Action Plan by involving women and women’s organisations. This was evident particularly in areas where women organisations exist and are actively encouraged by its government. Here processes are mostly led by civil society or other groups with official government recognition. The government participates in the consultation process however they do not have any initiative to set up meetings or follow up on issues. Moreover, there are persistent issues in government levels including lack of coordination and budget.

Second, the link between the plan and the conflicts sites.  Conflict mostly occur in the community, village or district levels, where provincial governments do not have direct authority to handle such situations.

Furthermore, the plans are likely to be very general and do not reflect the differing or changing nature of conflict - whether it is related to religious, community, natural resources, armed conflict or whether there is a changing conflict from social religious into terrorism or natural resources conflicts. In 2018, the National Commission on Violence Against Women reported approximately 247 natural resource conflicts involved community, other parties and armed conflict.  Yet, the role and conditions of women which are very diverse, depending on the nature of the conflict, have not been considered.

Furthermore, conflict is still viewed as a male masculine issue where the approach is repressive involving security armed forces.

Our government is very fortunate that we have AMAN and other NGOs, and Komnas Perempuan, where many women activists are focussed and committed to working on ensuring women participation in peace and security.   Five-year plans are completed with little impact hence the active engagement of these women to review and pursue future Action Plans.  With regard this, debate always exists questioning how far a women’s NGO can go where it is government run. It is hoped that women NGOs do not act to replace the government’s role. In reality, the government does not work automatically unless there are strong women NGOs that push them to respect and adhere to their own policies. Yet we know, there are always limitations in women’s NGOs in terms of resources needed to work continuously on this issue.

What are the important agendas for the next decade?

First, there is a need for the more visible women roles in informal ways to be brought into the formal decision-making process. Maintaining the active role of women and women’s NGOs as well as encouraging openness of the local government’s need to strengthen their leadership and institutional capacity.

Second, we need to reflect on what is full meaning participation by looking at different contexts of conflict - post conflict, potential conflict, and changing conflict.

Third, the involvement of young generations. I observed in Ambon and Poso that the young generation still do not overcome their problems.

Fourth: post conflict needs attention in order to prevent the changing conflict including the redress reparation for  the rights of victims of sexual exploitations done by Military members.

Fifth, gender mainstreaming, sexuality and masculinity still need to be focussed on and discussed in different government levels, hence working with gender studies in different universities (particularly where the conflict exist) is vital.