Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Including women, building lasting peace

Women lead peace movements and drive community recovery after conflict, but are still rare faces in forums to negotiate peace and settle security issues. Exclusion from post-conflict reconstruction constrains opportunities to recover, gain justice for abuses and shape reformed laws and public institutions. In 2014, UN Women helped women in 66 countries expand their roles in peace, security and humanitarian responses, and coordinated related global action by the UN system.

Peace processes

For decades, sexual and gender-based violence went unchallenged in Colombia's internal conflict. Different armed groups used it to terrorize communities and destroy the social fabric. They targeted LGBTI civilians. In some armed groups, women combatants were raped and forced to have abortions. Few survivors spoke out, because even if they did, no one heard.

I have worked a long time with victims. Justice is their right, and I will do whatever I can to bring that to them.

Daniela Kravetz, Expert on sexual and gender-based violence currently deployed by UN Women to assist Colombian prosecutors

Transitional justice

In Uganda, until 2014, there was little formal recognition of the harm suffered by people in the northern part of the country at the hands of the Lord's Resistance Army. That changed when Parliament finally passed a resolution to assist conflict-affected groups. UN Women joined civil society groups and parliamentarians in backing the measure, which draws attention to sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, and paves the way for transitional justice and reparations.

“An end to impunity is possible. We must give survivors reassurance that justice will prevail. It is the only way forward.”

Holo Makwai: On a quest to end impunity for the world's worst crimes

For over 20 years, lawyer Holo Makwaia has been a leader in the quest to end impunity for crimes perpetrated in conflicts.

A native of Tanzania, she was among the first investigators cataloguing human rights violations after Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Later, as a senior trial attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, she prosecuted some of its largest and most complex cases, securing the first conviction for war crimes. The life sentence of former minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the only woman tried for rape and genocide, broke new ground in international jurisprudence.

Today, Makwaia is part of a unique roster of experts, sponsored by UN Women and Justice Rapid Response. They ensure justice upholds the rights of women caught in some of the world's most complex conflicts. Makwaia recently collected evidence in the Democratic Republic of Congo against former general Bosco Ntaganda, charged with war crimes. For the first time, the International Criminal Court agreed to hear all charges related to sexual and gender-based crimes.