The links between women, peace and security are unarguably especially important in a country like Jordan. Jordan is one of the major contributors of personnel to United Nations peacekeeping missions, with more than one thousand military and police personnel in nine missions worldwide. It is also a country deeply affected by the Syria crisis in economic, social and security terms. It hosts more than 600 000 Syrian refugees and a large number of refugees from other regional conflicts in Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
In view of Jordan’s proximity to the Syria conflict and its important contributions to international peacekeeping, the Embassy in Amman has engaged Jordanians on several fronts to highlight the importance of women in these contexts, including their key role in achieving sustainable peace, as well as their specific needs and human rights in conflict situations.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day in 2016, the Swedish Embassy and Swedish NGO Kvinna till Kvinna launched the report Peacebuilding defines our future now: A study of women’s peace activism in Syria in Amman. Written by the Badael Foundation, a Syrian NGO, the report details the tireless efforts of women in Syria to reduce violence through various means: by preventing recruitment of child soldiers, by promoting peaceful co-existence between ethnic groups in areas beset by conflict, and through women’s economic empowerment to support their families. All of these efforts are carried out despite difficult, if not impossible, circumstances and at great personal risk.
The report formed the basis of a panel debate in the spring of 2016 focusing on the Syria peace negotiations. How can the international community ensure that Syrian women of all backgrounds are included in peace talks and have meaningful influence at the outcome of the talks? What can Jordan do to help Syrian refugee women become forces for peacebuilding in their own communities, in Jordan and when they return to rebuild Syria? The debate included engaging perspectives from Jordanian NGOs, UN representatives, Syrians residing in Jordan and the Swedish MFA.
Partnerships and working together
Sweden is also working in partnership with Jordanian police in the field of pre-deployment training for peacekeeping missions. Sweden, like Jordan, is a considerable contributor to peacekeeping missions and both countries have positive experiences of working together on the ground. The Swedish Police is a world leader in the field of pre-deployment training and gender-sensitive training material.
The partnership focuses on building the capacity of the Jordanian police to ensure that all staff receive specialised training on the protection, specific needs and human rights of women and children in conflict situations. What is important is not only what is taught but what is practised. Here, Jordan is encouraged to include women peacekeepers in their missions and to invite them back as trainers who can provide important and hands-on perspectives.
The aim of the training is for Jordan to meet UN standards for peacekeepers and gain a full understanding of the mandate of peacekeeping, which means the protection of human rights for all.
In 2016 the Jordanian Peacekeeping Operations Department, assisted by Swedish Police, received official certification from the UN for their adherence to international training standards, including special attention to women’s rights. This certification is a testament to Jordan’s efforts to take a lead in this field. Work is currently under way for targeted efforts to encourage more women police officers to join Jordanian peacekeeping missions abroad.
In conclusion, our most compelling observation is the importance of addressing structural causes of gender inequality to promote the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution. Here, the international community, including Jordan, still has a lot of work to do. The prevalence of inequality inevitably affects the understanding of women in conflict and the importance of involving women as peacemakers. Promoting women’s rights in times of peace is just as important as promoting women’s rights in times of conflict.
Text: Josefine Hellgren, Swedish Embassy in Amman, Jordan