(v) Actions to ensure equality between women and men [this section is based on the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women and enriched by inputs from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the Commonwealth and UNESCO.]

86. As recognized by the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), there is an inextricable linkage of peace with equality between women and men [17]. Only this linkage of equality, development and peace can replace the historical inequality between men and women that has always characterized the culture of war and violence. As pointed out at the Conference, it is necessary to promote women's political and economic empowerment and equal representation at every level of decision-making so that women's experience, talents, visions and potential can make their full contribution to a culture of peace. This analysis is becoming generally accepted in the world today; for example, the Commonwealth states in its proposals for this programme of action that, historically, women themselves have always been anti-war and against violence in view of their roles as mothers and wives, and in times of conflict, women and children have always been the victims. To lay down the foundations for an enduring and sustainable culture of peace, the Commonwealth promotes the full integration of women at all levels of the decision-making processes including the political arena, peace-building and resolution and prevention of conflicts.

87. The implementation of the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women should receive adequate resources and political will. Of particular importance for a culture of peace are the proposed actions concerning: equal access to education; research on causes, consequences and prevention of violence against women; reduction of military expenditures and armaments; promotion of non-violent conflict resolution; participation in power structures and decision-making; mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all policy and planning activities; protection of human rights and elimination of discrimination; and participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media. Of key importance is the elaboration and implementation of national action plans based on the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

88. As stated in the Beijing Platform for Action, the 'full participation of women in decision-making, conflict prevention and resolution and other peace initiatives is necessary for the realization of lasting peace' [18]. This requires support to women's initiatives for peace; training for women as peace promoters; increased participation of women in preventive diplomacy, peace-keeping and peace-building; and specific programmes to meet the needs of women affected by armed conflict. Further, concrete measures need be taken to promote parity between women and men in economic and political decision-making and to support women already in strategic positions, with a view to building a critical mass of women leaders, executives and managers in decision-making. This is essential to help overcome the present under-utilization of women's experience, competence and visions.

89. A global campaign is needed to raise awareness and educate communities on the need to end violence against women, both in the domestic context and during armed conflicts. Additional action is needed both for the support of victims, and for the prevention of violence through the transformation of values, attitudes and behaviours of men. Support should be given to indigenous trauma counselling activities, initiatives by women to promote community-level reconciliation, organized support networks and hotlines and concomitant reforms in the justice system.

90. It is important that actions in the framework of this Programme be supported by research and training to address gender-related factors that obstruct or support the development of a culture of peace. Research should identify mechanisms for developing the strategies and techniques for conflict resolution employed by women within the family and home-setting, to higher levels of political decision-making fora. Emphasis needs to be placed on the socialization of boys and men in order to avoid their use of dominance, force, aggressiveness and violence and enhance their emotional, caring and communicative capacity. Progress towards the elimination of rigid and stereotyped gender roles will make possible parity and partnership that unlock the full potential of women and men to deal creatively and constructively with conflicts and the sharing of power.

91. In order to ensure a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women, the relevant actions proposed by the Beijing Plan of Action need to be implemented, including women's full and equal participation in management, programming, education, training and research in the media. Substantial support ought to be given to the establishment and maintenance of women's media networks. Also, curricula, teaching materials and textbooks need to be developed and adopted which improve the self-image, lives and work opportunities of girls.

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