UN Report Highlights Women’s Roles in Natural Resource Management During and After Conflict

It’s been 14 years since the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 acknowledging women as important agents of change in recovery from conflict and peacebuilding generally. But between 1992 and 2011, only four percent of signatories in 31 major peace processes around the world were women, and only 12 out of 585 peace agreements referred to or made provisions for women’s needs in the reconstruction process.

Excluding women from reconstruction and peacebuilding can prolong conflict and perpetuate systematic inequalities, no more so then when it comes to natural resource management. Since 1990, at least 18 conflicts have been fuelled or financed by natural resources, according to the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

Among rural households in the developing world, women are typically the primary providers of water, food, and energy (e.g., firewood and biomass). As a result, women in conflict-affected countries are often especially dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and especially vulnerable to changes in availability and access.

Despite this, women are still persistently discriminated against and compensated less in agricultural pursuits, land rights, and other natural resource management activities, as well as excluded from peace processes. This is particularly problematic because the frequent result – food insecurity – threatens not only women, but dependent family members and young children. Additionally, food insecurity often contributes to the recurrence of violence in areas with weak institutions and vulnerable markets.

Failure to recognize the trials and realities women face in areas affected by conflict violates their rights and dismisses their positive potential. Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential, a report published jointly by UNEP, UN Women, the UN Development Program, and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, analyzes and offers solutions to strengthen peacebuilding outcomes by enhancing women’s engagement and empowerment through natural resource management.

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