How Australia’s Security Council seat can help women
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Australia can use its Security Council seat win to take a leadership role on women's issues around the globe and highlight areas of concern in the Pacific, according to UN Women executive director Julie McKay.
After five years of lobbying Australia won the Security Council seat overnight, granting us two years as a non-permanent member of the governing body.
"With such a small number of members, we can really play a leadership role," McKay told Women's Agenda this morning.
She noted that since 2000, the Security Council has placed an emphasis on women in peace and conflict.
Back then, the Security Council adopted a resolution requiring member countries to acknowledge that women have a different experience of conflict to men, but are largely ignored in peace building processes. In adopting Resolution 1325 the Security Council called on all members states to develop a National Action Plan for addressing the unique security needs of women.
"This set an agenda, but it's what you implement with them that really matters," McKay said.
The Australian government unveiled its action plan earlier this year, but has so far failed to attach funding to its implementation. The plan covers training on gender issues for troops and peacekeepers deployed overseas, and a requirement for Australia to ensure that women are involved in negotiations, and in participating in aid programs.
McKay said she hopes to see the funding shortfall addressed in line with the Security Council seat win. This would show our commitment to Resolution 1325, and establish clear guidelines and procedures for bodies like the Australian Federal Police, AusAID and the Australian Defence Force in working with women and building the capacity of women's organisations overseas.
McKay added that the empowerment of women is essential to achieving human security, reducing poverty and advancing development – three issues that are critical to achieving peace and security.
Australia's Security Council tenure begins in 2013. As the most powerful arm of the United Nations, the seat gives Australia, as one of 10 non-permanent members joining five permanent members, a vote in establishing peacekeeping operations, authorising military actions and implementing sanctions.