First Vienna Forum boosts gender equality for sustainable peace and development
More than 15 years ago, the United Nations Security Council recognized that it is critical for women to participate in decision-making processes in the international peace and security arena (UNSCR 1325). Unfortunately, there is still a clear gender gap in this area today.
Hence, “disarmament is not only good for women: women are good for disarmament,” so said Mr. Kim Won-soo, Head of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), in his message opening the first Women Higher Education for Peace Vienna Forum, a two-day event aimed at boosting gender equality in peace-related issues.
An innovative job fair with more than 20 key stakeholders in peace-related fields complemented the event, which involved the CTBTO, IAEA, OSCE, and UNODC showcasing their career opportunities to build bridges between young professionals and potential employers.
Job Fair participants especially enjoyed the career development workshops with tailor-made advice from recruitment experts from these organisations.
Under the coordination of UNODA and supported by Austrian and German funds, the event was organised by the 28 entities Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education Partnership. It is part of a wider initiative entitled “Women Scholarship for Peace: Global South,” which provides training courses for women on disarmament, non-proliferation and peace, including a scholarship programme.
A total of 30 scholarships were made available to female early career professionals from 30 different countries and a variety of professional backgrounds. Scholarship recipients were selected by a panel of experts from UNODA, the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and the UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE).
In addition to the more than 350 participants in Vienna, individuals from 34 countries following via webcast had the opportunity to debate different substantive issues regarding the persisting gender gap in disarmament and non-proliferation to highlight the key importance of education and training for women. Participants focused on the role of science in the context of peace and development, and furthermore, the relevance of partnerships and networking to overcome the so-called ‘bubble problem.’ A bubble is defined as the departmentalization of different fields, such as security, development and women, which subsequently results in a lack of coherence in policy responses.
More than 70% of the audience attending the Forum were women. The Forum engaged professionals working in disarmament, non-proliferation and development, representatives of the diplomatic community in Vienna, the private sector and civil society: all gathering with the common aim of supporting the participation of women on peace-related issues, including in decision-making processes.
Considerable calls were made for strengthening efforts to target youth and women in regards to education, information and awareness raising, particularly in the global south.
The Vienna Forum proved to be a much needed platform for women to share their concerns and career development opportunities in peace related fields, which is expected to be repeated on regular basis in the coming years.