Policy Brief: Security through Women’s Eyes

As the world gathers this March for the 57th session for the UN Commission of the Status of Women FemLINKPACIFIC asked members of our rural women’s community media network what needs to be done to prevent violence against women and girls and enhance a culture of peace and security:                

Through outreach consultations in rural centres in Fiji including in Tavua, Ba, Nadi, Labasa and Nausori as well as through our monthly “1325” network meetings 254 women  leaders from diverse background, representing on average 2540 members of networks and local clubs,  have reaffirmed that women and children must live a life free of violence. The prevention of violence needs economic security in homes and husbands and wives making financial decisions, deciding on income and expenses together. The prevention of violence also needs men and women sharing in decision making in our community, our town and also in our country.

At the regional level, according to the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (RAP-WPS) the nature of security has evolved considerably for the Pacific region since the first coup in Fiji in 1987 and the civil war in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea in the 1990s. Our region has witnessed and continues to be affected by armed conflict, civil unrest, tribal fighting, and local level conflicts over resources, increasing violent crime and political crises. It is also recognised that the impact of forced migration and displacement, as a result of climate change[1] and the issue of poor management of natural resources will have serious implications on regional peace and stability of Pacific Island Countries and Territories.[2] These political realities also heavily disrupt the lives of women and their families and increases the risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

However even at time of instability and insecurity because men, women and children experience conflicts differently they also have a significant role in contributing to preventing and managing conflict and sustaining peace in communities and at the national and regional level.

The RAP-WPS reaffirms the need for gender-specific approaches to conflict prevention initiatives.


Enhancing efforts to prevent all forms of violence requires the full implementation of key global commitments to women’s human security and human rights including CEDAW, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the MDGS and the Beijing Platform for Action.

Prevention strategies must include investing in women’s peace and security by ensuring women can inform and influence decisions which affect their lives including through equal participation in local and national governance. The efforts of community based women’s movements must also be recognised and supported to bring about long term prevention and social transformation so that all women and girls can claim their right to peace and security.

Actions at Regional Level:

  • We call on all development partners and member states to commit to the full implementation of the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security by supporting:
    • Gender mainstreaming and women and young women’s leadership in conflict prevention and management, political decision-making and peacebuilding and peacekeeping by:
      •  Strengthened capacity and networking of women and young women leadersfrom government, civil society and private sector in mediation, dialogue, peace negotiations and constitutional reforms
      • Enhanced capacity of governments to adopt measures to increase women’s representation at all levels of leadership and decision-making.
      • More effective participation of women leaders in the context of the Biketawa Declaration and Good Office role of the Secretary-General of the Forum Secretariat.
      • Women, Peace and Security commitments are reflected in participating country peacekeeping policies.


  • Gender mainstreaming and women and young women’s participation in security sector oversight and accountability by:
    • Ensuring Women, Peace and Security commitments and obligations are incorporated in the development and implementation of national security, defence and justice policy
    • Enhanced mainstreaming of Women, Peace and Security in the Forum Regional Security Committees priority setting and decision-making.
    • Improved mainstreaming of Women, Peace and Security within the work of the Secretariat’s Political, Governance and Security Programme and Regional Law Enforcement Secretariats.
    • Ending Violence against Women (EVAW) policies ensure women and girls’ access to health, psychosocial, legal and protection in times of humanitarian emergency and in reconstruction and rehabilitation after conflict and crisis
    • State parties are better able to meet their obligations to protect, respect and fulfill women’s and girls’ human rights during transitional, conflict and post-conflict situations

·         Protection of women’s and girls’ human rights during humanitarian crises and in transitional and post-conflict contexts

Actions at National Level , governments must integrate UNSC Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) in national policies and legislation to:

  • Enhance Personal Security by addressing threats which include domestic violence, violent crime, torture and detention by a citizen’s own state, and military invasion by a foreign state.  Personal security aims to protect people from physical harm by violent individuals, criminals, and the state, and promotes safety from domestic abuse and predatory adults.
  • Enhance Community Security including by protecting people from the loss of traditional relationships and values and from sectarian and ethnic violence.  Minority ethnic groups are often threatened.
  • Enhance Political Security

Within these broad areas of human security are the critical issues being experienced in different ways and grappled with by Pacific women, who are working to place their recommendations for change on to the various state and regional agendas.

When women feel secure, peace is possible. When women feel secure enough to resist war and organise for peace, expressed through theatre, public demonstrations and civil disobedience, peace is on its way.

Pacific women want their leaders to use quiet diplomacy, mediation, sanctions and other measures as conflict-prevention measures rather than deploy force after the outbreak of conflict.  By consulting routinely with women technical experts, the security sector can improve its policies and regulations to provide security for all.

Women’s ‘security’ is pervasive, not just related to armed conflict, and affects every area of women’s lives, nor is just about ‘domestic violence’.  It is about the welfare and status of women, human security issues, and the impact of decisions in relation to the form and functions of the military, police, and broader security sector on women.




According to the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security despite facing violence, instability and conflict women and young women have also played an important part in conflict prevention, management and recovery in the region:

Direct and indirect impacts of armed conflict in the region have not only included injuries and deaths but have violated fundamental human rights and international law. These include human rights tools of sexual and gender-based violence alongside the displacement of groups and individuals.

Even though the casualties resulting from violent conflicts across the region may seem small by global standards the reality is still shattering. In the Bougainville crisis 10% of the population were killed while an additional 60,000 people were displaced. For the conflicts in the Solomon Islands threats, abductions and destruction of property saw over 300 lives with some 50,000 individuals being displaced.

Conflicts within the region have also led to the decreased access to vital basic services. These include health and education services, and the mental stress those affected go through as reflected in the total social and economic costs of such conflicts, particularly at the household level.

The impact of Pacific conflicts are also having an impact on a generation of young women, men and children who ultimately affected not only physically and mentally but taking the form of a distorted future awaiting them.

The protection of the human rights of women and children is required as a critical response to the ongoing harmful traditional and cultural practices as well as during times of humanitarian crises.


FemLINKPACIFIC, 2008 -2011 Women’s Peace and Security: Policy Responses and Solutions for Our Pacific Region, Suva, FemLINK PACIFIC Media Initiatives for Women

Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security launched on October 18, 2012

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