Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Building Resilient Societies: The Relevance of UNSCR 1325 in Egypt's Political Transition

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Building Resilient Societies: The Relevance of UNSCR 1325 in Egypt's Political Transition

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the most common headline themes during the Arab Spring was how women have emerged as key players and how they were participating shoulder to shoulder with men during the revolution. However, the follow up on whether any of this translated into the institutionalization or mainstreaming of gender equality was nowhere near as much. An examination of the situation reveals a very bleak reality in terms of incidence of violence, representation rates and policy outcomes. The alienation of women and absence of inclusive restoration efforts undermine the likelihood of successfully managing the transition process and developing a resilient society.

There are few internationally recognized guidelines for states on how to manage transition processes and even less on how to integrate gender mainstreaming as an essential component of the process. In fact, in most cases women's rights and gender equality are seen as a secondary issue or a luxury that should be dealt with after securing more immediately pressing areas for countries in transition. One possible set of guidelines that can be used for reference are those in place to protect women in conflict and post conflict situations.

The relevance of conflict and post conflict management guidelines for the protection of women in transitional scenarios is threefold: First of all, much like post conflict scenarios, contexts of political transition represent a crucial turning point for societies to integrate new sets of values and to redefine their institutions - including those concerned with gender equality; Secondly, Political transition - which is defined as the dismantling of existing power structures - inevitably entails social fragmentation and a consequent need for inclusive reconciliation; And finally, political transitions have huge socio-economic impacts that lead to the weakening of justice and security systems which at the best of times secure minimal protection for women.

The guiding framework

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) calls on member states to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse. It also emphasizes member states responsibility to put an end to impunity and prosecute those responsible for crimes including those relating to sexual and other forms of violence against women and girls. The resolution also provides for the consideration of the rights of women through consultation with local and international women's groups and increased representation of women at all decision-making levels. Member states are to take measures to ensure the protection of human rights of women and girls particularly as they relate to the constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary. Additionally they are to increase voluntary financial, technical and logistical support for gender sensitive training efforts. We can also refer to the more recent UNSCR 1889 (2009) that reiterates the importance of women's participation at all stages of peace processes as well as UNSCR 1820 and UNSCR 1888 on the protection of women from sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. These resolutions together represent the United Nations framework put forward to integrate and protect women in conflict and post conflict situations and collectively they aim at: Protecting them from violence in compromised security settings and ending impunity to crimes against women; including women in the reconciliation and rebuilding process; and addressing structural inequalities to ensure equitable representation in all decision making processes and institutions.

Though Egypt is not a post armed conflict situation, these provisions are of concrete relevance and importance in the post-revolution Egyptian context where there have been serious challenges to security, justice and accountability. This country study on Egypt will focus on the possibilities of making use of the ideas contained in UNSCR 1325 in the context of revolution and post-revolution, presenting an analysis of the situation since 2011. …

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