International Framework for Women’s meaningful participation in transitional justice

Women’s meaningful participation in transitional justice has been an established requirement of international peace and security responses for over 20 years. The principle of women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of transitional justice is particularly reinforced in:
 UNSCR 1325: women, peace, and Security (2000)—first requires women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making; and
 UN Secretary General’s Guidance Note on Transitional Justice (2010)—Principle 4: Strive to ensure women’s rights through transitional justice processes and mechanisms.
Embedded within the international Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) policy framework are key assertions for why women’s meaningful participation in transitional justice matters. These include:
• Women’s equal participation is a basic normative right
• Women’s meaningful participation challenges discriminatory power structures
• Women are an agent rather than an object in transitional justice
• Women’s meaningful participation leads to inclusion writ large
• Women’s meaningful participation improves ‘operational effectiveness
Women’s meaningful participation in transitional justice
The ‘quantity’ of women at all levels and in all elements of transitional justice is a necessary part of meaningful participation—clearly, women must be present. However, women’s meaningful participation is not simply about the number of women, but about the quality and effectiveness of their role to influence transitional justice processes and outcomes.
Women’s meaningful participation, therefore, needs a definition beyond the number game.
Definition for women’s meaningful participation in transitional justice
Meaningful women’s participation involves the convergence of several elements and manifests when women from diverse backgrounds:
• Have the ability to enter settings, mechanisms, and positions of power freely and unhindered and without fear for their safety;
• Are present in settings, mechanisms, and positions of power so that they can directly seize opportunities to inform, influence and make decisions;
• Possess self-efficacy, knowledge, and confidence to effectively represent their whole and diverse intersectional range of ‘gendered’ interests, values, and experiences;
• Deploy their agency by gathering evidence, substantively setting agendas, building coalitions, and collaboratively mobilizing strategies to impel change; and
• Exert influence that alters decision-making outcomes to better reflect diverse women’s interests, values, and experiences and, therefore, also those of the wider society.
Increasing the numbers (i.e. numeric or descriptive participation) of a diverse cross-section of women and enabling the conditions by which the quality and impact of their roles (i.e. the substantive representation of their gendered interests in decision-making) can be deepened are vital twin tracks of meaningful inclusion. (www.undp.org)

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