International Crisis and the Gender Gap
More than 20 years have passed since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which for the first time enshrined the participation of women and their role in international peace and security. Women around the world have made significant progress toward economic and educational equality since this resolution was adopted, however, political unrest and war continue to be particularly harsh on women, who remain underrepresented in conflict and crisis resolution. In order to address these issues and find sustainable, long-lasting solutions, it is vital to include women’s voices.
Since the groundbreaking UNSCR 1325 was adopted in October 2000, more than 100 UN member states have gone on to formulate National Action Plans—documents outlining a government’s course for localized action in relation to women, peace, and security. While these efforts are laudable, much of the conversation surrounding these topics is still male-dominated.
Data collected by the Council on Foreign Relationships (CFR), an American think tank specializing in foreign policy, reveals that around 75% of peace processes between 2015-2019 did not involve women in leadership roles. Moreover, the focus had been mainly on protecting women, seeing them as victims, rather than empowering them to take an active role in crisis resolution.
Limiting or omitting women’s involvement leads to missed opportunities in peacemaking. Women often take a collaborative approach, considering the concerns of diverse demographics affected by a conflict, such as religious, ethnic, and cultural groups. According to the CFR, research suggests that this kind of approach increases the prospects of long-term stability.
The limitations of male-dominated decision-making have prompted other research institutes to bring the gender issue to the fore. Asako Osaki is a gender specialist at Gender Action Platform (GAP), a think tank that specializes in mainstreaming gender perspective into various policies and programs in Japan.
Empowering women also means understanding the specific ways in which they experience conflict and crisis, and the risks they face. For example, gender-based violence and sexual assault on women often accompany war. “In situations where security and law enforcement are weakened or deteriorates, violence may occur more frequently and without being punished,” Osaki points out.
Women also generally bear a greater share of the burden of care work, such as cooking, fetching water and looking after children and the elderly. “When the public service stops, it means more work for women. We should pay more attention to the implications of the burden of care during and after conflict,” says Osaki.
Japan’s Collaborative Approach
While Japan has a generally low gender gap index, the country scores high in health and education. As a.