It has been almost 12 years since the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security (SCR 1325) was unanimously adopted.
This is the first resolution passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the unique impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and ongoing peace.
SCR 1325 recognises that if women are not present in preventative discussions, ceasefire negotiations, peace talks and peace agreements, it is near-impossible to increase women's status and visibility in peace processes.
In adopting SCR 1325, the Security Council placed an obligation on all member states to establish National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of SCR 1325.
More than a decade since the adoption of the resolution, Australia has dragged its feet on introducing a NAP. After years of lobbying by non-government organisations in the gender and development sectors a consultation draft was released in mid-2011. Almost a year on, little progress has been made.
With less than a month to go until celebrations for International Women's Day 2012, it is a timely reminder for all of us to consider our global responsibilities when it comes to gender equality and to agitate for our national Government to take a lead on these issues.
For too long, the public debate around Australia's involvement in post-conflict situations has been focussed around timeframes for withdrawal of our troops. However, the lack of gender-responsive strategies implemented during our involvement in conflicts and post-conflict reconstruction are regularly overlooked.
Creating a realistic, implementable action plan in response to SCR 1325 will not only demonstrate Australia's understanding that women experience conflicts differently to men, but will show our global commitment to gender issues globally.
As a member state of the United Nations and as a country with a stated intent to gain a seat at the United Nations National Security Council, solid action by Australia to implement SCR 1325 is well overdue.
Nations across the globe who have had to deal with turmoil on their own soil have already taken leaps and bounds to meet their international obligations by introducing NAPS. Countries such as Rwanda, Cote D'Ivoire, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nepal, Sierra-Leone, Uganda, Serbia and the Philippines have all introduced NAPs.
Australia lags behind these and other nations we are more often compared to such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Sweden and Denmark - all having also introduced NAPs.
While a consultation Draft is a welcome move after a decade of limited action, it currently lacks clear targets, timeframes or indicators, all of which are crucial to ensuring that the NAP would be effectively implemented and measured.
International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe on March 8th each year. This International Women's Day UN Women Australia is helping make marketplaces safe for women in the Pacific by fundraising for UN Women's Partners Improving Markets program.
You can lend your support to this year's campaign by donating, buying official International Women's Day merchandise, hosting a fundraising event, or attending one of UN Women Australia's flagship events across Australia. For more information visit www.unwomen.org.au.
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