Remarks at the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Strengthening Women's Role for Sustainable Peace and Security, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo
Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister Minh. And thank you to Vietnam and ASEAN for organizing today’s dialogue and bringing dedicated attention to the critical issue of women’s participation in peace and security.
Twenty years on from the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), we have made significant progress in anchoring the understanding of the full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding as crucial to achieving sustainable peace.
For ASEAN Member States, the commitment to women’s leadership in peacemaking is a long-standing one. As far back as 1973, a woman minister was one of three Vietnamese signatories to the Paris Peace Accords ending the war in Vietnam.
In 2014, three of the five Government signatories to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro were women. This included the Chair of the Philippines negotiating team, whose signature represented the first time a woman was the chief signatory of a peace agreement on behalf of a major party. I am happy to call her, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, a colleague. Miriam is a member of the UN’s Standby team of Senior Mediation Advisers.
More recently, women negotiators [such as Ja Nan Lahtaw] have been facilitating talks in Myanmar. Women leaders have been heading governments and ministries across the region, and just last month, under Indonesia’s Presidency, the Security Council adopted the first dedicated resolution on Women and Peacekeeping. This is an issue Foreign Minister Retno has been critical in championing.
At the same time, ASEAN has been making important strides to formalize its women, peace and security architecture. This includes: adopting the first ‘Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN’ in 2017; launching the ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry in 2018, and convening the first ASEAN Symposium on Women, Peace and Security in 2019 – an event which featured Noeleen Heyzer, a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.
In this work, the UN has been a steadfast partner. From co-organizing with ASEAN the groundbreaking 2017 Track 1.5 regional dialogue on the critical role of women in preventing violent extremism, to providing bilateral support through the Peacebuilding Fund to projects such as those underway in Myanmar aimed at strengthening the capacity of women mediators and overcoming barriers to women’s participation in conflict resolution.
Each of these initiatives is vital to our collective efforts to operationalize the women, peace and security agenda. But as we take stock today of our global progress, we must be clear-eyed: far more remains to be done.
Power politics, entrenched patriarchal attitudes, unequal social structures and resource exploitation and diversion have held back progress in implementing Security Council resolution 1325.
So, too, has the lack of mainstreaming of gender analysis in policy making, inadequate support to women’s meaningful participation, and duplication of efforts arising from weak strategic partnerships.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted how fragile the progress we have made actually is. Existing gender inequalities in conflict-affected countries have been exacerbated, and women are at risk of further marginalization from education, economic and political life.
As we look ahead to the next 20 years of the women, peace and security agenda, and to the efforts needed to realize a world of sustainable peace, development and equality for all, we must focus on implementation.
It is vital that we all use our political will and leverage to press for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women – from political decision-making to peacemaking, from pandemic response to peacebuilding.
We need to build governance structures that ensure gender analysis is integrated from the outset and informs all our policy making.
We should bring the weight of national legislative processes to provide legal protections for women’s rights.
We must pursue electoral reforms to facilitate women’s safe political participation as candidates and voters.
We need to allocate adequate, predictable and sustained financing to support our efforts.
And we must work in close cooperation with our strategic partners including regional organizations and women’s civil society, to achieve the vision laid out in resolution 1325 for just, equal and peaceful societies.
As we face a historic public health crisis, economic uncertainty and complex peace and security challenges, the importance of strategic and complementary partnerships to achieving the women, peace and security agenda could not be clearer.
To this end, the adoption of the second ASEAN-UN Plan of Action later this year is a prime example of such partnerships in action.
Under the current Plan of Action, ASEAN and the UN are working to mainstream gender-inclusive conflict prevention through the ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry, to promote the role of women in peacebuilding and preventing vio lent extremism, and support ASEAN’s deployment of women peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping missions.
The new Plan of Action will build on this existing close cooperation to strengthen the role of women in governance through a proposed ASEAN-UN electoral observation training and by exploring ways to support women in politics through the ASEAN Inter-Government Parliamentary Assembly.
The women, peace and security agenda will require long-term and sustained political will, effort and investment – particularly from Member States.
Attitudes and resources need to be shifted, and the wider public’s understanding of the importance of women’s participation expanded. Implementing the women, peace and security agenda is, and needs to be seen as fundamental to achieving sustainable peace, security and development for all.
The UN looks forward to continuing its close partnership with ASEAN on women, peace and security, and to working together to ensure that over the next 20 years, women achieve their equal and rightful place in shaping the decisions and priorities of their communities and countries.