As part of the ASEAN and neighbor relations, one of our researchers, Irine Hiraswari Gayatri, was invited by the Government of Australia, Office for Women, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the ASEAN-Australia Women, Peace and Security Dialogue in Melbourne, 17-19 April 2018.
The Dialogue was held at the Westins Hotel Melbourne, hosted by the Australian Civil Military Commission, following an earlier Women, Peace and Security Proposal which was distributed to Committee of Permanent Representatives on 22 November 2017. The activity was a manifestation of several commitments between ASEAN and Australia Special Summit Initiatives under the cluster “Security Cooperation” aimed at strengthening cooperation in the areas of peacekeeping, protection of human rights, and promotion of gender equality in contributing to stability, peace, and security. Security cooperation is one cluster besides three others under the ASEAN-Australia Summit Initiatives, namely education, economy and counter terrorism. Such activity also reflected how Australia sees the importance of ASEAN as part of her foreign policy outreach.
Irine’s participation as an Indonesian delegate was supported by the Executive Director of ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), Mr. H.E. Rezlan Izhar Jenie. Other Indonesian delegates were Mrs. Hastin Dumadi from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Sri Danti Anwar, Chair of The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and former Secretary of the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Ms. Ima Abdulrahim from The Habibie Center whom presented about projects for the youth, and Ms. Alijah Diete whom joined Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian and now is engaging in the study on the violent extremism.
The two-day sessions where participants from almost all ASEAN member states that consisted of representatives of the governments, military, police force, and Civil Society Organizations were divided into several groups discussed topics which influential in improving their understanding and implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Discussions among others touched upon challenges to women’s participation in regional peace and security institutions, the emerging programs and actions taken by various organizations in countering violent extremism, urgencies to address foreign fighters, also on sexual violence in conflict, and the Rohingya crisis that have caused human costs.
In the opening speech of the dialogue, April 17, 2018, The Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Minister for Women, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service mentioned that as a state with capacity, Australia recognised how women are disproportionately vulnerable in areas where there is conflict and instability. Too often violence against women, including sexual violence, has been used as a weapon of war and a means of exercising power. Nonetheless she stressed the need to move away from the idea that the only role women have in conflict, security and peace building is as victims. In the meantime, research findings have all in all documented that when women are involved in finding solutions - when their knowledge and experience is harnessed - there are better chances of achieving real and lasting change. For example, an analysis of more than 150 peace agreements found that when women are involved the agreement is more likely to last longer.
In her speech, O'Dwyer stated, "that is why Australia continues to be the largest donor to the UN Women's Peace and Humanity Fund. We have provided 5.5 million dollars in the last three years to a global partnership to ensure women can contribute significantly to the prevention of conflict and durable peace building." The Australian Government has also donated 1.7 million dollars in Bougainville since 2015 to build a network of 690 trained women and men to help prevent violence against women, resolve conflicts and uphold human rights.
The Importance of Addressing Women, Peace and Security
Why states gathered in Australia to discuss the Women's, Peace and Security in Australia only confirmed the importance of women, peace and security as an agenda that was established in October 2000 when The UN Security Council passed a resolution requiring members to protect women against sexual violence in armed conflict and increase women's participation in conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, assistance and recovery. Since passing through this resolution, the Security Council has issued seven resolutions on the agenda.
In Indonesia, the adoption of international norms on women's issues, peace and security was among others manifested by the issuance of the National Plan of Action on the Empowerment of Women and Child Protection in Social Conflict (RAN P3AKS), which was launched in September 2014. The national action plan is an adoption of Security Council Resolution UN Number 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security that was released in 2000.
In the process of creating the national action plan, between 2007 to 2014, dialogue was always becoming important mechanism, and it implemented at various levels of discussion among key stakeholders, namely among government agencies and with non-government entities. The drafting on national action plan was initiated in 2002 by the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (KPPPA), supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, Indonesia's National Commission on the Elimination of Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) which supported by several agencies. In retrospect the process of adopting the UNSCR 1325 in Indonesia was a challenging task which finalization took several years before launched in 2014.
Until now national and local networks, be it government and non-government entities are working together localizing the national action plan into regional action plan, and still continue to date. The substances of local or regional actions plan (RAD P3AKS/Rencana Aksi Daerah Pemberdayaan dan Perlindungan Perempuan dan anak dalam Konflik Sosial) are vary which connects security issues and women roles, although not in the sense of “traditional” security. The pillars of regional action plan are clearly reflect the national action plan with stresses upon empowerment of women in the grass roots on the eve of transforming them as active player in peace building.
Violent extremism in Women, Peace and Security Agenda
Along with the changing characters of global politics and the occurrence of new threats in the global and regional sphere, in 2016 the Security Council urged member states to "ensure the participation and leadership of women and women's organizations in developing counter-terrorism strategies and violent extremism." They also called for "greater integration by Member States and the United Nations in their agendas on women, peace and security, counter-terrorism and against violent extremism. "
Precisely at this level, however, it was noted that anti-terrorism efforts in many of UN Member states have not inclusively address women. Women are mostly positioned as victims. The situation was discussed before the ASEAN-Australia Summit, when experts from the region discussed the need for a coherent and comprehensive action against violent radicalization and extremism. In my opinion, serious shift to address roles of women as part of counter terrorism arose just in time when a large number of foreign fighters traveling from ASEAN countries to Syria and Iraq to fight with Da'esh and other extremist groups. In that context, Indonesians, some of the were women, represented the second highest nationality of foreign fighters captured in Turkey as well as in Syria and Iraq.
How have these situations been responded? In the current context of policy formulation that relates women, peace and security under the pretext of new challenge namely violent extremism, in Indonesia, efforts were made to integrate gender as paradigm, as well as part of program approaches. It manifested in the currently drafted national action plan on the countering and preventing violent extremism led to terrorism which proposed by the state/s counter terrorism agency with the support of vast networks of government and non-government agencies.
In terms of process to formulate policies and to build understanding, dialogue is seen as means to further gender perspective in the formulation of policies related to women, and its role in issues of peace and security development. (Irine Hiraswari Gayatri)