In contemporary Pakistan, the challenge of implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) is evident. Women and girls in Pakistan face pervasive discrimination and exclusion from public and political life in a society marked by structural inequality and entrenched patriarchal norms. However, the involvement of women in national security and peace decisions is vital for effective peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction. This article explores the multifaceted aspects of Pakistan’s journey in addressing these challenges and fulfilling the objectives of UNSCR 1325.
In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council issued UNSCR 1325, marking a historic moment. It was the first time that the international community explicitly recognized the adverse impact of conflict on women and emphasized the importance of involving women as active contributors to peacebuilding.
To operationalize the principles of UNSCR 1325, many member states, including Pakistan, developed National Action Plans (NAPs). However, the effectiveness of these NAPs in advancing WPS has been inconsistent. As of November 2016, 63 member countries had established NAPs, but evaluations reveal that gaps in implementation persist, particularly regarding budgetary allocations.
In Pakistan, women frequently endure abuse, exploitation, and violence due to their limited participation in public life. Following crises and conflicts, incidents of sexual violence and abuse hinder women and girls’ access to economic opportunities, healthcare, and education. Gender disparities persist in various facets of Pakistani society, with reports indicating high rates of physical abuse and limitations on women’s access to executive roles.
Despite these challenges, the Pakistani government has expressed its commitment to viewing youth and women as essential components of peacebuilding. The first National Security Policy (2022–2026) in Pakistan acknowledged “gender security” as a fundamental tenet, with a focus on integrating gender equity into national security narratives. Pakistan’s active participation in UN peacekeeping missions, including contributions of female engagement teams, further reflects its dedication to the WPS agenda.
Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2023–2027 for Pakistan and the Pakistan Vision 2025, there is a growing emphasis on gender equality and fundamental rights in Pakistan’s development agenda. These frameworks prioritize gender-responsive planning, inclusion of marginalized populations, and the reporting of cases related to violence against women (VAW).
Efforts to address gender inequality and ensure effective WPS implementation require a wholehearted commitment from legislators, civil society representatives, and institutions. Empowering women in peacebuilding, giving them a more significant role in discussions on peace and security, enhancing their resilience, and reducing their vulnerability are central objectives.
To tackle the broader issue of gender inequality, it is imperative to integrate gender-sensitive relief and resilience strategies into the national discourse. The government must prioritize gender parity in its security and development agendas, thus “securitizing” gender equality. Enforcement of gender-based violence regulations, establishment of specialized entities to address gender-based violence, and increased representation of women in decision-making positions are critical steps.
The media plays a pivotal role in advancing the WPS agenda by dispelling misconceptions and mobilizing support for addressing gender-related challenges. Currently, the media in Pakistan provides insufficient coverage of gender-related issues and often relies on derogatory stereotypes. Transforming the narrative to include women in discussions about various aspects of public life, including foreign policy, peace, and security, is essential.
A comprehensive and synchronized approach is necessary to advance women’s involvement in peace, security, and public life in Pakistan. Meaningful participation, policy implementation, gender equality, and widespread support are indispensable elements in meeting the challenges of UNSCR 1325 and ensuring a more equitable and peaceful future for all in the nation.