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Significance of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 for the role of women in the development of peace and security

Significance of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 for the role of women in the development of peace and security

October 31, 2023

Author: Aleksandra Gasztold

Significance of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 for the role of women in the development of peace and security


Autor foto: Domena publiczna

Significance of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 for the role of women in the development of peace and security

Author: Aleksandra Gasztold

Published: October 31, 2023

United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1325, adopted unanimously on October 31, 2000, revolutionized peace and security efforts[i].

Today, it also inspires by creating new impulses in the following areas: inclusion of women’s experience; dealing with women’s vulnerability in conflict situations; protecting women and girls from sexual violence; preventing violence against women; and efforts for accountability and justice and equality. The document has a timeless dimension and formed the basis of The Women, Peace and Security Agenda. In the years that followed, nine more resolutions were developed incorporating them into the Agenda[ii].

The resolution was inspired by the Beijing Platform for Action, created in 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women under the auspices of the UN, a series of UN Security Council resolutions on children, the protection of civilians in armed conflict and conflict prevention, and the activism of the non-governmental community.

Resolution 1325 has influenced the way societies and states around the world view the role of women in the context of armed conflict and peace processes. It indirectly recognized that if women are vulnerable and suffer discrimination, and if there are violations of their rights during peacetime, they will be even more vulnerable during conflict. Mass displacement, the use of child soldiers and violence against ethnic and religious groups, as well as gender-based violence and sexual aggression are widespread situations. The specific experiences of women and girls in armed conflict are related to their status in societies. Where cultures of violence and discrimination against women and girls exist even before conflict, these problems are exacerbated during confrontation[iii]. If women do not participate in society’s decision-making structures, they are unlikely to be involved in decisions regarding the conflict or peace processes that follow.

Peace process

Women are disproportionately more affected by armed conflict and underrepresented in prevention, reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts. This is of particular importance in shaping the peace process, in which three levels can be distinguished (Figure 1).

Fig. 1 Perspective on the peace process as envisioned by the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

Own elaboration.

Women play a significant role at the grassroots level (3) through various direct activities related to providing access to resources such as water, food, safe shelter. They actively participate in civic debate (and criticism) from level two. The ability to express their demands in the form of protests or lobbying, for example, is often referred to as a parallel peace process. In contrast, the presence of women in negotiations regarding the political, economic and military aspects of peace solutions is underestimated. This includes activities such as deploying military forces to prevent conflict, imposing economic sanctions and implementing post-conflict constitutional reforms. These negotiations are usually conducted by diplomats, members of the government or opposition and senior military figures. Participants within this level have the ability to use significant financial resources to support their decisions. Despite the fact that studies have confirmed that including women in the peace process extends the chances of peacekeeping by two years. In contrast, when they had a real impact on the negotiation and development of peace agreements between 1989 and 2011, the chances of the arrangements surviving, and therefore securing peace, increased by 35 percent[iv].

The third level is crucial in understanding the atrocity of the conflict and the needs of the community living in the affected areas. Activities at the local level also have the function of gathering information about civilian casualties and are the most essential element of anti-war activities and peace proposals. Hence, people from this level should be added to shape the peace process at higher levels. Therefore, Resolution 1325 aimed to sensitize societies to the specific needs of women during armed conflicts and to strengthen their participation in peace processes at all these levels. When women and their voices are represented in formal peace negotiations, they are more likely to draw attention to broader issues of individual and community security. Efforts should therefore be made to increase the number of women in the roles of negotiators, mediators, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

Four Pillars of the WPS Agenda

The UN Women, Peace and Security Program is implemented under four pillars:

  1. Prevention involving actions to avoid the occurrence, spread or escalation of armed conflict by incorporating a gender perspective and involving women in prevention processes. Includes the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls both during and after conflict.
  2. Participation in support of promoting gender equality and ensuring women’s equal representation in peace and security decision-making processes, both at the national, local and international levels.
  3. Protecting the rights of individuals, including women and girls, both during and after conflict. Activities include protection from gender-based violence, prosecution of perpetrators of violence, and implementation of international and regional conventions at the national level.
  4. Support and reconstruction focused on the needs of women and girls in the post-conflict context, including providing access to health care and support in overcoming the trauma of conflict and violence.

Incorporating a gender perspective into peace and security efforts is key to promoting gender equality and addressing the challenges faced by women and girls during armed conflict. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles assigned to women and men, distinguished from their biological characteristics. Roles are shaped by socioeconomic, political and cultural factors, as well as variables such as age, race, social class and ethnicity. Gender equality aims to ensure equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for both women and men, in accordance with international agreements and commitments.


Resolution 1325 does not contain any clear mechanisms for monitoring its implementation. To ensure the document’s implementation, countries were asked to formulate National Action Plans (NAPs). By the end of October 2023, 107 UN member states, i.e. 55%, had adopted such documents. Poland approved National Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Agenda 2018-2021 on October 22 2018, and subsequently extended it until 2023. However, the adoption of the NAP by many countries still does not result in the elimination of sexual violence during armed conflict or discrimination in the security sector. Equality practice faces problems associated with a masculinized patriarchal culture. Privileging the male experience as a neutral norm for culture and humanity perpetuates an androcentric vision of the world regardless of times of war or peace. Contemporary security structures, especially those related to the military sector, reproduce stereotypical gender roles, block women’s promotions and are reluctant to have them actively participate in military activities.

Organizational culture is immersed in social reality, drawing patterns from it, but also exploiting the understanding of femininity and masculinity by assigning certain characteristics and behaviors to women and men. Particularly in the era of armed conflict, the position of the woman-victim (by extension, the woman-survivor) is exposed excessively and in an extremely simplistic way, thus perpetuating gender stereotypes. The fetishization of weapons and armed conflict as a form of testing men’s courage promotes the perpetuation of ideas and attitudes about gender roles in the context of patriotic-civilizational mobilization[v]. The traditional view based on stereotypes influences perceptions of women’s and men’s involvement in shaping security. In doing so, it mistakenly assumes that women are not only interested in actively participating in ensuring the security of the state or local communities, but also in the discourse about it, including the academic debate.


Resolution No. 1325 not only established important goals and standards in the field of gender equality and women’s participation in peace matters, but also caused the development of activities for women, peace and security around the world. In the following years, further documents were adopted that developed and strengthened this agenda. The introduction of Resolution No. 1325 represented a breakthrough in thinking about armed conflict and peace processes and also laid the groundwork for a more just and lasting peace around the world.

The groundbreaking provisions of the UN Security Council resolution under discussion can be boiled down to several points:

  1. Addressing the role of women in peacebuilding and conflict prevention processes.
  2. Focusing on the protection of women’s rights by emphasizing the need to protect the rights of women and girls during armed conflict, including against sexual violence.
  3. Strengthening women’s participation by calling for increased representation of women at various decision-making levels related to conflict and peace processes.
  4. Promoting gender equality in all aspects of peace and security efforts, not just those related to human rights.
  5. Emphasizing the role of civil society and encourage involvement in processes related to women, peace and security.

The resolution promotes the recognition of women’s and girls’ empowerment, and places gender issues at the center of the discourse on peace and security issues.

Aleksandra Gasztold, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Security, Faculty of Political Science and International Relations University of Warsaw. Secretary General of WIIS Poland

[i] S/RES1325 (2000),

[ii] S/RES1889 (2013), S/RES2122 (2013), S/RES2242 (2015), S/RES2493 (2019),  S/RES/1820 (2008), S/RES/1888 (2009), S/RES/1960 (2010), S/RES/2106 (2013) i  S/RES/2467 (2019).

[iii] A. Gasztold, Resexualisation of violence in the Russian-Ukrainian War, in: The War in Ukraine. (Dis)information – Perception – Attitudes, eds. M. Musiał-Karg, N. Lubik-Reczek, (Berlin: Peter Land 2023), pp. 69-90.

[iv] Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence, (New York: UN Women, 2012),

[v] J. J. Pettman, Wording Women: A Feminist International Politics (London/New York: Routledge 1996), p. 62-71.