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DiCarlo: "Power politics, entrenched patriarchal attitudes and unequal social structures continue to impede women’s participation in peace processes"

15 Oct 2020 - 12:16

Opening Remarks by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo at the Panel Discussion: "Imagining the Future of Inclusive Mediation: Learning from pioneering and young women leaders"


Thank you, Itonde
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by extending my thanks to you all for joining us for this discussion.

And I want to thank the Crisis Management Initiative, the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and the Governments of Finland and Norway for their support in presenting today’s dialogue, and for our long-standing partnership in delivering the UN’s High-Level Seminar on Gender and Inclusive Mediation Strategies.

Now, we’ve made a lot of progress since Security Council resolution 1325 was adopted 20 years ago, but we all know there is much more to be done. We need innovative and practical initiatives to achieve lasting change around the world.

To this end, the UN High-Level Seminar series has become a critical tool in our efforts to secure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes.

Since 2013, more than 250 senior envoys, mediators, negotiators, experts and civil society representatives have participated from all regions of the world, sharing experiences and challenges in advancing inclusion, and discussing practical ways to expand women’s participation.

The reasons for our specific and continuing focus on strengthening women’s participation could not be clearer.

First, making up half of humanity, women have a right to be at the table and have their voices heard.

And second, statistics show that peace agreements have a greater chance of longevity if women are at the table and their concerns are taken into account.

We have had some successes.

In Sudan, women were instrumental in the protests that led to the country’s transition to democratic governance.  They must have a key role in Sudan’s future, and have this far been instrumental in ensuring gender responsive provisions in Sudan’s Constitutional Declaration.

In Colombia, activism by women’s groups during the 2012 peace talks saw women’s participation grow from one woman amongst 20 negotiators at the start of the process to women representing nearly one-third of delegates later on. Women’s participation led to the establishment of a landmark Gender Sub-Commission and to a final peace agreement regarded as an international standard for gender inclusion.

Yet, despite awareness of the importance of women’s inclusion in peacemaking, many of the challenges that women peacemakers have faced still persist.

Power politics, entrenched patriarchal attitudes and unequal social structures continue to impede women’s participation in peace processes as has shrinking civic and political space and inadequate financial support to women’s groups.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the persistent disconnect between women’s central role in frontline community work, brokering humanitarian access and serving as health workers, from national decision making on the response to the virus.  

Bridging this gap and supporting women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peacemaking requires all of us to double our efforts.

The United Nations is committed to this objective.  We must lead by example.  The Secretary-General has appointed women to serve in 52 per cent of senior leadership posts in Special Political Missions, which my Department oversees.

We have strengthened our cooperation with regional women mediator networks.

And as COVID-19 has shifted much of our work online, we have supported women in navigating the transition of peacemaking efforts to digital platforms.  We are also seeking to make the best use of digital capabilities to expand our outreach to women in remote and conflict-affected areas and to support the millions of young people, women and men, using the Internet to promote peace initiatives.  

We also recognize that young women, who often begin and lead peace movements, face additional barriers to their political participation. This is why we have scaled up the Peacebuilding Fund’s Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative from $2.7 million in 2016 to $20.4 million in 2019.

These funds are being used for digital platforms in Libya to amplify women’s voices, and to build young women’s leadership and advocacy skills in the Caucasus and the Balkans.  I welcome the presence today on the panel of such inspiring young women such as Emmily Koiti and Hajer Sharif.

In Syria, Iraq and Yemen the Special Envoys have used indirect inclusion mechanisms to overcome women’s exclusion and ensure their voices are heard. In Syria, the Women’s Advisory Board has been a springboard for women’s inclusion, with several members of the Board now serving as delegates to Syria’s Constitutional Committee.

And, of course, we need long-term strategic partnerships to both devise short-term fixes and drive long-term change. And it is in this context that our long-standing cooperation with CMI, PRIO and the Governments of Finland and Norway in delivering the UN High-Level Seminar is so important.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Realizing a world of sustainable peace requires that we all step up our efforts to harness the full potential of women in peacemaking – that we learn lessons from successful and inclusive peacemaking of yesterday and prepare for the new and emerging challenges of tomorrow.

Today’s dialogue is an important contribution to these efforts, and I look forward to an interesting discussion.

Thank you.