As Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security, Nicola has long worked on the issues affecting women in conflict areas. A key part of this work has been to ensure that women are involved in peace negotiations, and the Government has commited to ‘shine a spotlight’ on the participation of women in all UK hosted peacebuilding events.
The APPG hosts the annual report to Parliament on Government progress in delivering its National Action Plan (NAP. The NAP is a tool for the Government to outline its work on women, peace and security and progress is reported annually and responsibility is shared between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); Department for International Development (DFID); and Ministry of Defence (MoD). The NAP has an emphasis on six focus countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, and Syria.
Nicola and other APPG members called a meeting with Baroness Anelay, who is Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, to get a full update from the Government. 2015 was a critical year for Women, Peace and Security. Not only did it see the escalation of conflicts, it also marked the fifteenth anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution on women in conflict (UNSCR 1325). The UK played a key role at the anniversary and made a number of new commitments. But Nicola and Baroness Hodgson, who Co-Chairs the group, are arguing that more action is required if real change for women in conflict and post-conflict, and in particular would like to see the UK commit to ensuring that women are meaningfully included in all UK hosted and supported peace and security events.
The Minister confirmed that the Department is looking at holding in-country consultations with local womens’ organisations. The group also discussed the difficulties with channelling funding to grassroots organisations in Syria, and the Minister has pledged to work with the APPG to overcome this, and the GAPS (Gender Action for Peace and Security) Group will be producing a report in to how the UK can support NGOs in Syria.
Nicola says: Syrian women’s organisations are doing vital work to support peace and vital services to women and girls in their communities, they can often be small but their impact is huge. Our APPG is working to ensure the Government continues their work with NGOs and ensures women are at the table in peace negotiations, and I was greatly encouraged by the Ministers’ knowlegde and commitments at this important meeting.