Peacebuilding Commission Ambassadorial-level Meeting on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) - Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) at its Twentieth Anniversary: Strengthening Linkages between Women, Peace and Security; and Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
Thank you, Mister Chairman.
It is a pleasure and honor to be with you on the 20th anniversary of the landmark resolution on women, peace and security – Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
Since its adoption, we have made significant progress in understanding and addressing the challenges women face in achieving full and equal participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
We know that societies that give women the space to participate fully in political and socio-economic life are among the most resilient and most peaceful. We have mounting evidence that peacemaking and peacebuilding are more successful when women are involved. But there is still much room for improvement.
Women’s contributions to peace and security are still often outside the mainstream of formal efforts, and too frequently undervalued. I appreciate that the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) gives space to women making such contributions in challenging contexts.
I look forward today to hearing directly from civil society briefers who have joined us from Nigeria and Guatemala, as well as representatives from UN Women and the African Union.
Let me begin by noting that the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) has been at the forefront of action across the UN system to strengthen gender-responsive peacemaking and peacebuilding. As a policy, we include women in peace negotiations led by the United Nations.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken steps to ensure that women’s voices are included and amplified in virtual conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities. The Special Envoy for Syria and the Special Representative for Colombia are using digital platforms to consult regularly with women’s groups, advisory boards and mediators’ networks.
In Yemen, the Special Envoy conducted large-scale virtual consultations with over 500 Yemenis, including many Yemeni women’s networks.
The restrictions on travel and in-person meetings have led us to realize the enormous potential to increase the transparency and inclusion of our peacemaking efforts through new technologies. We have been able to include more women and youth in our dialogues than ever before, thanks to digital tools.
Excellencies, last year, I issued a new Women, Peace and Security policy to ensure that we integrate women’s meaningful participation and gender-sensitive analysis in all our peace efforts. To this end, we are now training more women mediators and supporting women’s advisory groups.
With UN Women, the Peacebuilding Support Office is updating the Secretary-General’s Seven-Point Action Plan to further strengthen the framework guiding the UN system’s work on gender-responsive peacebuilding. The updated action plan includes improving the monitoring and accountability framework of UN gender-responsive peacebuilding interventions.
In this regard, I would like to commend the Peacebuilding Commission for its efforts to reduce the gap between the aspirations and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, including through the adoption of a gender strategy in 2016. I would like to convey appreciation to Ireland for its support to this year’s review of the strategy.
The report on the review of the strategy takes stock of the progress in ensuring a more systematic integration of gender perspectives across the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. It shows the expansion of gender considerations, particularly over the last two years.
And the report recommends strengthened gender references in the Commission’s advice to the Security Council and the inclusion of business leaders, ex-combatants and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence among the women peacebuilders who engage with the Commission.
Colleagues, we must recognize that COVID-19 is deepening and magnifying the challenges women face in their societies. Indeed, it has only highlighted how fragile the progress we have made really is.
The pandemic has exacerbated existing gender inequalities in conflict-affected countries, and because of its socio-economic impact, women and girls are at risk of further marginalization from education and economic and political life.
Women peacebuilders increasingly find themselves on the frontlines of efforts to protect and support women and girls, as well as other vulnerable segments of society.
Since the outset of the pandemic, the PBC has served as a platform to hear accounts of these efforts, including the role of women in facilitating access to healthcare, humanitarian aid, psycho-social support and social services as well as initiatives to address the pandemic’s devastating economic fallout by teaching women skills to make goods or provide services needed by their communities during this time.
But while women are mobilizing at local levels in response to the crisis, they continue to be largely marginalized from COVID-19 response planning and decision-making processes. This is particularly true in conflict settings.
In response to the pandemic, the Peacebuilding Fund made rapid adjustments to many of its gender programs. In Colombia, PBF funding has strengthened protection for women health care workers and human rights defenders who are now more vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence. In Guatemala, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has with PBF support conducted awareness-raising and protection activities for women at higher risk of domestic violence in the context of lockdown measures.
The implementation of the women, peace and security agenda is only possible with dedicated and predictable capacity and financing. The Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has allocated 40 percent of its total investments to gender-responsive peacebuilding every year in recognition of the vital role women can and should play in building and sustaining peace. The PBF has made more investments in spearheading women and youth engagement than any other pooled fund in the UN system.
Furthermore, DPPA has allocated 17% of its extra-budgetary funds from its Multi-Year Appeal to projects supporting women. To ensure we can monitor, report and hold ourselves accountable, we have developed a gender marker to track the mainstreaming of gender issues in all our initiatives.
We need the full support of Member States to continue and expand this work, and we look to the PBC as an important ally and advocate.
Let me end by stressing that we all have a role to play to fulfil the Women, Peace and Security agenda: Member States, the UN system and women’s organizations at the regional, national and local levels. And we all continue to look to the Peace Building Commission and its unique convening and advisory role in furthering this collective endeavor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.