Twenty years after the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed Resolution 1325, Kenya has continued to demonstrate its commitment to its domestication and full implementation. The Resolution on Women, Peace and Security that was unanimously adopted by member states on 31st October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the critical role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, in undertaking peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. It also stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
The adoption of this Resolution was significant as it not only recognized the undervalued and under-utilized contribution women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and peace-building but also marked the beginning of country level initiatives that put the role of women into sharp focus as an important constituency in responding to a peace, conflict and security related issues at national and sub-national levels.
In Kenya, the Government has taken the lead in ensuring that this Resolution is implemented – this has been achieved through regular development of Action Plans which inform priority areas and initiatives for full participation and recognition of the role women continue to play in peacebuilding, humanitarian response and peacekeeping efforts.
During the launch of the second Kenya National Action Plan (KNAP) on Women, Peace and Security, Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service and Gender stated that “Kenya’s women, peace and security agenda is anchored in the values of gender equality, inclusion, and participation as enshrined in on our Constitution.” She added that the Government’s commitment to the Women’s Peace and Security Agenda has been demonstrated through the development and implementation of the first National Plan 2016-2018. The second National Action Plan will be implemented during the period 2020-2024.
Following the development of Kenya’s first National Action Plan, the country has established the National Steering Committee which continues to provide advisory support on the implementation of the Plan. The country has also developed and launched the first Gender Policy in Defence Docket which aims at ensuring that more women are included in peace keeping missions, women are promoted in positions of higher levels, among others.
The second KNAP recognizes that effective conflict prevention and response requires strong and efficient systems, structures, and processes to operationalize the laws, policies, and plans. It therefore provides elaborate implementation strategies and a coordination framework
Resolution 1325 urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.
Globally, implementation of Resolution 1325 in the UN system is through the Interagency Taskforce on Women, Peace and Security established by the Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality. The Taskforce includes representatives from different entities within the UN system, including UNDP. In Kenya, UNDP continues to support the Government in domesticating the Resolution, through its investment in the development of the first National Action Plan and through support to the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. UNDP is also an active member of the Gender Sector Working Group.
UNDP’s Resident Representative in Kenya, Walid Badawi, commenting on the launch of the second National Action Plan, commended the Government of Kenya for the leadership and full commitment to the domestication of the Resolution and for the progress so far made in raising the profile of the critical role women play in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and the prevention of conflicts. “UNDP will continue to invest in government programmes, at national and County level, aimed at ensuring that women continue to play an active role in the country’s peace and security activities and that the same does not go unrecognized,” stated Walid.
UN Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) Rana Taha pointed out that the release of the Action Plan amidst the COVID-19 challenge is a clear demonstration by the government, of its commitment to ensuring that women play a leading role during crises. “Women have a unique role to play in lifting communities and countries out of crises – when you lift women, you lift Kenya,” she added.
Implementation of the first KNAP was instrumental in ensuring an increase in the representation of women in various sectors – for example, the proportion of women in the Parliament increased from 20.78 per cent in 2016 to 23.3 per cent in 2018. Similarly, the share of female representation as cabinet secretaries increased from 25 per cent in 2016 to 27.3 per cent in 2018, as noted by UNDP’s Gender officer Cynthia Oliech.