Whitlam Institute


Browse Latest

Women, Peace and Security: In Conversation with NATO's Special Representative


The UN estimates that 90% of casualties in contemporary conflicts are civilians, the majority of whom are women and children, but despite this impact fewer than 4% of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10% of negotiators at peace tables are women.

2020 will mark 20 years since the first UN Security Council resolution recognising that conflict affects men and women differently, and that women have a powerful role to play in peacebuilding. Since then, a variety of resolutions, coalitions and agencies have shed light on war tactics like sexual violence, and recognised and enhanced the vital role of women in peace movements and community recovery after conflict.

The Whitlam Institute was delighted to bring together a remarkable group of experts, including NATO's Special Representative Ms. Clare Hutchinson, for an ‘In Conversation’ event about Women, Peace and Security, to consider how the landscape has evolved over the last two decades, how Australia is faring in the global context, and what’s next for WPS.


We sought to bring the issues home by looking at progress under Australia's first National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (2012-2018), with the second NAP due mid 2019. The 2018 report described successes in institutional learning about WPS across departments, and a whole-of-government approach to implementation of the NAP, but also a number of needs, including more robust systems of monitoring and evaluation, and better resourcing for coordination and leadership.

This event was held on Wednesday 13 February 2019 at the Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, Canberra.



Clare Hutchinson is the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. She is the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s contribution to the WPS agenda, aiming to facilitate coordination and consistency in NATO’s policies and activities and to take forward the implementation of the NATO/EAPC Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Ms Hutchinson was previously Senior Gender Adviser with the United Nations and was instrumental in setting the strategic development of WPS for the UN Department of Peacekeeping in New York, Kosovo and Lebanon. Ms Hutchinson has a Masters of International Relations and Masters of Research from Newcastle University (UK).


Due to parliamentary commitments, Ms Gai Brodtmann MP is regrettably no longer able to join us for the discussion. We are lucky to have Dr Anu Mundkur take her place.

Dr Munkur has extensive practical experience in the fields of women, peace and security; feminist approaches to international relations and gender and international aid. Dr Mundkur is currently Head of Gender Equality for Care Australia. She is a member of the  Steering Group of Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security (WPS Coalition) where she has conducted national consultations on the National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security.


Apajok Biar is a Youth Ambassador for the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network, a Youth Advisor for Multicultural NSW and Youth Participation Officer at Cumberland Council. Ms Biar has represented Australia and New Zealand as a Refugee Youth Advocate at the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and has been part of the Gender Audit team to UNHCR. She won the 2017 Western Sydney Refugee Youth Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement in the field of community leadership. Ms Biar has a Bachelor of Social Work from Western Sydney University. Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, Ms Bair arrived in Australia with her family at the age of two and has become an influential advocate for refugee youth, particularly those from South Sudan.


Leanne Smith is Director of the Whitlam Institute and the UNAA Goodwill Ambassador for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. An international human rights lawyer by training, she has a Master’s in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. Ms Smith has worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission, international NGOs, as an Australian diplomat (DFAT), and in various roles for the UN in New York and in the field, most recently as Chief of Policy and Best Practices for UN Peacekeeping Operations, where she was responsible for DPKO work on gender, sexual violence in conflict and child protection. She is a visiting fellow at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.

Image courtesy of the United Nations, "UN Military Liaison officer Lieutenant Commander Pip Gibbons conducts a routine visit in Timor Leste."