Bangladesh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and UN Women (UNW) jointly organised a National Symposium on 29-30 January 2018, to further the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The NAP, which will include time-bound goals for the advancement of women's participation and rights, with indicators to measure success, is being developed by a working group of eight Government ministries and divisions led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is being drafted with a view to implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for increasing women's participation in efforts to maintain peace and security. The NAP shall aim to ensure women's meaningful participation in the prevention of conflict and violent extremism, and the protection and advancement of women's rights to promote resilience during crises. The NAP shall reinforce Bangladesh's continued efforts in establishing peace and security within and beyond its border by ensuring women's greater role, among others, in peacekeeping, peace building, disaster management, prevention of violence against women and preventing violent extremism. The NAP shall focus on the ways of enhancing women's participation and meaningful contribution in these significant areas.
Bangladesh Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, was the Chief Guest at the symposium. Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNW, who is on her first visit to Bangladesh, was the Guest of Honour. Ms. Nasima Begum, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), Bangladesh was present as the Special Guest.
One the first day of the symposium, Ms. Carla Silbert, NAP WPS Specialist, UNW Regional Office Asia Pacific presented her paper on the “Overview of the Women, Peace and Security and NAP Processes”. She mentioned that globally, seventy three (73) countries have adopted national action plans on women, peace and security and Bangladesh may consider them while drafting their own.
Professor Meghna Guhathakurta, Lead Consultant, NAP WPS Development presented her paper on the NAP WPS Bangladesh Framework, where she highlighted the development of Bangladesh in drafting NAP.
Following the presentations, the participants were divided into three working groups on three separate topics: (a) Prevention of Conflict by Addressing Root Causes Specifically Affecting Women (b) Women’s Role and Agenda in Disaster, Humanitarian and Emergency Responses and (c) Role and Agenda of Women in Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Two members from each group were nominated to present their findings on behalf of the group on the second day.
"Today, Bangladesh is taking an important step, by identifying national priorities to ensure that the objectives of Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent Women, Peace and Security resolutions are translated into results," said the Executive Director of UNW. She highly praised the Bangladesh Government's wide-ranging approach in developing the NAP in partnership with civil society, and recommended that this group effort should continue in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages. She also lauded the country’s humanitarian treatment of the Rohingya refugees despite limited resources.
The Foreign Minister stated in his closing address that women in Bangladesh should be placed at the centre of Bangladesh's work to prevent conflict, build peace, and respond to emergencies. He continued that our NAP shall demonstrate our continued leadership and commitment to put this principle into action.
Mr. Rishi Rajbhandari, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Nepal, Ms. Gettie Sandoval, Former Undersecretary, Phillipines and Ms. Alison Blake, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh were also present at the symposium among other foreign delegates.
The event was covered by Sabrina Hasan, Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA).