As Agenda Nears Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, Gains on Gender Equality Shrinking Worldwide, Women Still Suffering from Brutal Armed Conflicts, and “Gender Apartheid”
From freedoms vanishing under Afghanistan’s Taliban regime to sexual violence committed against the backdrop of war in Ukraine, the rights of women around the globe remain under threat more than two decades after the Security Council first decided to crystalize the issue on its agenda, delegates heard today, during a ministerial-level debate on women, peace and security.
More than 90 speakers took the floor over the day-long meeting, emphasizing the challenges faced by women in the world’s increasingly complex conflict zones, from Syria to Mali, Yemen, Ukraine, South Sudan and beyond. Delegates focused on strides made since the Council adopted its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, such as the growing number of States tackling the nexus of gender and security in national action plans. However, many lamented that, two years shy of the resolution’s twenty-fifth anniversary, progress in protecting women and embedding their voices in the decision-making processes that shape their lives remains woefully insufficient.
Sima Bahous, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said the first two decades since the Council adopted resolution 1325 (2000) saw several historic firsts for gender equality. “But we neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls,” she stressed, adding that the resolution’s twentieth anniversary, in 2020, “was not a celebration, but a wake-up call”. Recent years have seen numerous military coups – from the Sahel region to Sudan and Myanmar – as well as the outbreak of fighting in Ethiopia, the invasion of Ukraine and the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, and the resurgence of “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan.
Many of those situations have seen civic space for women activists shrink dramatically, if not close all together, she said. Noting the spread of online misogyny, she recalled that in 2020 – against the backdrop of a new pandemic that revealed the enormous value of caregivers and the importance of investing in health, education, food security and social protection – “we had hoped that countries would heed the lessons from decades of activism by women peacebuilders, and rethink military spending”. Instead, that spending has only grown. Calling on countries to push forward a radical and urgent change in direction, she also emphasized the need for women themselves to help drive that shift, imploring: “I ask that your plans […] be characterized by mandates, conditions, quotas, funding earmarks, incentives and consequences for non-compliance.”
Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), agreed that hard-won generational gains on gender equality are being reversed around the globe against the backdrop of more than 100 armed conflicts. “As respect for gender equality declines, violence rises,” she said, noting that ICRC sees the brutal impact on armed conflict in its daily work – from women and girls exposed to sexual violence at the barrel of a gun, to those who are displaced or recruited to fight as soldiers and those who die giving birth at home without medical care. “Civilians, fighters, caregivers, prisoners, mothers, daughters – the realities of women in conflict are all-too-often invisible, disregarded.”
Outlining several important paths forward, she demanded respect for international humanitarian law and equal protection for all victims of conflict – including diverse women, men, boys and girls. Among other provisions, those laws require parties to conflict to assess and take steps to reduce expected civilian harm. States must also ensure the clear prohibition of sexual violence is integrated into national law, military doctrine and training. Emphasizing that women cannot effectively take their seat at decision-making tables if they are absent in labour markets, fail to benefit equally from technological advancements, lack access to health care, or are chronically impoverished, she drew attention to critical technological gaps, especially in conflict settings, and stressed that only those who control assets will ultimately yield influence when decisions are made.
Bineta Diop, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the deteriorating security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – as well as chronic conflicts in the Sahel region, the Lake Chad Basin and parts of East Africa – are combining with the impacts of climate change and declining financial flows to exacerbate the suffering of women and girls in Africa. The result has been an unprecedented rate of sexual violence, a deprivation of necessary commodities and services, and the denial of opportunities to fully enjoy the right to peace and security. The African Union’s Office of Women, Peace and Security is leading a two-pronged strategy, including advocating for the adoption and implementation of national action plans, and mainstreaming women’s leadership in peace, development and governance processes across the continent.
Leymah R. Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate as well as Founder and President of the Liberia-based Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, also briefed the Council, recalling that conversations about peace processes 23 years ago were limited to men with guns and political power. Too little has changed since that time, she said, noting that many national action plans are viewed by politicians as tools to “window-dress” gender issues, cover up for their failures to truly integrate women’s rights, or impress donors. Meanwhile, local activists continue to press forward with their daily work. Indeed, the greatest threat facing women is not the barrel of a gun, but economic hardship, lack of health care, food insecurity and the climate crisis. She underlined the need to move beyond political rhetoric and match action plans with real resources, stressing: “Without funding and political will […] resolution 1325 will remain a toothless bulldog.”
As Council members and dozens of representatives of the wider United Nations membership took the floor, many echoed those expressions of concern, drawing attention to situations – in conflict zones, and elsewhere – where the lives, rights and safety of women are under acute threat. Others pointed to more systemic and structural barriers keeping women from realizing their full potential, including vast inequalities in employment and the digital sphere. Meanwhile, some speakers shared examples of concrete steps taken by their countries to enshrine or improve upon the women, peace and security agenda, and to improve daily life for women.
Among those was Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, who chaired the meeting in her capacity as Council President for March. She said in her national capacity that Mozambique has enacted an array of crucial legislation and policies protecting women, including a law preventing early marriage and another ensuring the equal right to education for all. In addition, the country has in place a national action plan for women’s advancement and a national gender policy, resulting in full gender parity in its Council of Ministers and female leadership in both the Administrative and Constitutional Courts.
Laura Gil Savastano, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said the women, peace and security agenda – as it currently stands – needs an injection of modernity. However, it is nevertheless bearing fruit in her country. Colombian women in all their diversity are serving as agents of change, she said, recalling that the country negotiated the world’s first peace agreement with the full participation of women, ending its half-century-long civil conflict in 2016. The country’s women are redefining the content of resolution 1325 (2000), moulding it, and treating it as a “living document”, she stressed.
Marlène Schiappa, Secretary of State for Social and Solidarity Economy and Associative Life of France, said the women, peace and security agenda is indispensable, especially considering the massive, systematic violation of women’s rights and freedoms and the sexual and gender-based violence affecting them in conflicts and crisis situations. Among other things, she urged partners to step up pressure on violators of women’s rights by imposing sanctions and encouraged the Council to incorporate the “never without women” principle in all its work.
Lin Yi, Vice-Chairperson of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council of China, agreed with other speakers that, while “she-power” continues to grow, much remains to be done to achieve true gender equality and inclusive development. As an advocate for those goals, her country has taken a “Chinese path” to modernizing women’s lives and protecting their interests, she said, noting that more than 100 laws and regulations help women from all walks of life participate in politics, decision-making and administration. From rural revitalization to scientific and technological innovation, more Chinese women have become leaders, and the country has provided training to more than 130,000 women from developing countries, she said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, welcomed the adoption of national action plans by more than 90 countries around the world, which have empowered women and girls and helped them respond to violence and conflict. Nevertheless, he joined others in voicing concern that women and girls continue to be the primary victims of crimes and conflict. Expressing disappointment over restrictions imposed on women in Afghanistan – including their right to access work and education at all levels – and urging their reversal, he added that the most egregious hypocrisies and crimes occur in foreign occupations and places where the right to self-determination is violated.
Noura Bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister for State of the United Arab Emirates, said that, amid continued misogynistic, violent attacks against women and girls who try to build peace across conflicts, the women, peace and security agenda must be a key prism through which to look at emerging threats. Those include climate change, which disproportionately impacts women and girls, affecting their education and employment opportunities, health and physical safety. In addition, she called for a stronger focus on protection as one of the most powerful tools to defend women’s participation and empowerment, pointing out that crimes of sexual and gender-based violence continue to be among the cheapest weapons of war, terrorizing and controlling whole communities.
Luka Mesec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Slovenia, also voiced concern over the worsening trend of attacks on women around the globe. He expressed support for the drafting of national action plans on women, peace and security, noting that Slovenia will soon develop its third such strategy, and said those plans can have a catalytic effect not only on women’s public participation, but on all stakeholders. In the Council’s own daily meetings, more efforts are needed to protect women briefers from reprisals, he said, emphasizing: “The Security Council needs to do everything in its power to enable their safe work.”
Echoing those concerns was Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of Ireland, who stressed that women activists should never face intimidation, threats or harm as a result of their participation in Council meetings. Noting that women’s real participation sadly remains the exception, rather than the rule, he also shared other speakers’ concerns over the alarming and accelerating push-back on gender equality and women’s rights, from Afghanistan to Haiti, Libya, Iran, the Central African Republic and elsewhere. He also stressed that Ukraine’s women must be fully represented in all decision-making platforms as that country emerges from the impact of the Russian Federation’s invasion.
Also speaking were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Switzerland, Gabon, Ecuador, Ghana, United States, United Kingdom, Malta, Brazil, Russian Federation, Albania, Japan, Czech Republic, Morocco, Luxembourg, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, South Africa, Angola (on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries), Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Panama, Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Spain, Greece, Belarus, Estonia, Ukraine, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Georgia, Egypt, Armenia, Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Guatemala, Poland, Germany, Lebanon, Italy, Philippines, Canada (on behalf of a group of countries and in national capacity) Portugal, Viet Nam, Australia, India, Mongolia, Romania, Austria, Malaysia, Latvia, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Bulgaria, Republic of Korea, Namibia, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Türkiye, Chile, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Israel, Iran, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Uruguay, El Salvador, Myanmar, Uganda and Bangladesh.
A representative of the Observer State of Palestine also participated, as did a representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer. An observer for the Holy See spoke as well.
Due to technical difficulties the following statements could not be included in this press release: Iraq, Bulgaria, Republic of Korea, Namibia, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Türkiye, Chile, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Israel, Iran, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Uruguay, El Salvador, Myanmar, Uganda, Bangladesh and the Holy See.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 7:51 p.m.
SIMA BAHOUS, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said the first two decades since the Council adopted resolution 1325 (2000) saw several historic firsts for gender equality. “But we neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables, nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls,” she stressed, adding that the resolution’s twentieth anniversary “was not a celebration, but a wake-up call”.
She recalled that, at the meeting marking the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000), two and a half years ago, the Security Council heard from Zarqa Yaftali, an Afghan woman representing civil society. “She asked that women’s rights not be bargained away to reach a deal with the Taliban,” she said, adding that, at the time, Ms. Yaftali expressed regret that women were excluded from 80 per cent of peace negotiations in her country from 2005 to 2020 – including talks between the United States and the Taliban. Just a few months later, Zarqa’s worst fears materialized, and the latter took control of her country once again. More recently, Taliban leaders have announced additional restrictions and detained more activists, including women’s rights defenders.
Urging the Council to “speak and act forcefully against this gender apartheid” in Afghanistan, and support Afghan girls and women in their darkest moment, she said that country represents one of the most extreme examples of regression in women’s rights around the world. “But it is far from being the only one,” she said, recalling that five days after the Council met to mark the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000), fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray. When a peace deal was signed two years later, some estimated the death toll to be in the hundreds of thousands. “We may never know the number of women and girls who were raped,” she said, noting that the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia has described the scale of sexual violence committed there as “staggering”.
Also, since the resolution’s twentieth anniversary, she said, there have been several military coups in conflict-affected countries, from the Sahel region to Sudan to Myanmar. Those situations have seen civic space for women’s organizations and activists shrink dramatically, if not close all together. Noting that the Commission on the Status of Women began its 2023 annual session on 6 March, she declared: “The status of women is under siege.” Pointing to the spread of online misogyny, she noted that the world just passed the one-year mark since the invasion of Ukraine and the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Women and children represent 90 per cent of the nearly 8 million Ukrainians that have been forced to move to other countries, and 68 per cent of the millions displaced within Ukraine.
She went on to note that, back in 2020, in a world wracked by a new pandemic that showed the enormous value of caregivers and the importance of investing in health, education, food security and social protection, “we had hoped that countries would heed the lessons from decades of activism by women peacebuilders, and rethink military spending”. Instead, that spending has only continued to grow, passing the two-trillion-dollar mark. Neither the pandemic nor supply chain issues prevented another year of rising global arms’ sales.
“It is obvious that we need a radical change of direction,” she stressed, outlining two suggestions for such a shift. First, she stressed that the global community cannot expect to see any improvement if the bulk of its interventions continues to be trainings, guidance, capacity-building, and holding one event after another to talk about women’s participation – rather than mandating it in every meeting and decision-making process. “I ask that your plans be remarkable for their special measures and accountability for their application – that they be characterized by mandates, conditions, quotas, funding earmarks, incentives and consequences for non-compliance,” she said.
Secondly, she said, the international community must broaden its reach to get resources to those who need them most. The best tool at the United Nations disposal for channelling funds to women’s organizations in conflict-affected countries is the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which has already funded more than 900 groups since its creation in 2015. “We urgently need better ways to support civil society and social movements in these countries,” she stressed, calling for more intentional efforts to fund or engage with new groups, and especially with young women. UN-Women stands ready to work with the Council, and the wider United Nations, to find the necessary change of direction and forge a new path forward “before it is too late”, she said.
MIRJANA SPOLJARIC EGGER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said hard-won generational gains on gender equality are being reversed around the globe against the backdrop of more than 100 armed conflicts. That is no coincidence, she stressed. “As respect for gender equality declines, violence rises,” she said, adding: “When armed violence intersects with pre-existing patterns of discrimination, the impacts are disastrous for communities.” Emphasizing that gender inequality harms all people, but holds back women and girls the most, she said ICRC sees the brutal impact on armed conflict in its daily work – from women and girls exposed to sexual violence at the barrel of a gun to those who are displaced or recruited to fight as soldiers and those who die giving birth at home without medical care, or risk abuse while in search of water, food or firewood.
“Civilians, fighters, caregivers, prisoners, mothers, daughters – the realities of women in conflict are all-too-often invisible, disregarded,” she said, pointing out that ICRC also bears witness to the vital role women play in protecting and leading their families and societies. Spotlighting the group’s core principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality, she said the latter means it only takes the side of victims, and never weighs in on any political, military or ideological matters. There are several ways forward, the first of which demands respect for international humanitarian law by protecting all victims of conflict equally, including diverse women, men, boys and girls. Those laws prohibit discrimination and require parties to conflict to assess and take steps to reduce expected civilian harm. The effective implementation of those obligations requires political will on the part of States, including to assess their own conduct and seriously examine whether their forces have the resources and expertise needed to protect civilians. States must also commit to using a gender perspective in their application of international humanitarian law.
In addition, she said, States must ensure that the clear prohibition of sexual violence under international humanitarian law is integrated into national law, military doctrine and training. Currently, national frameworks feature inadequate definitions of sexual violence and multiple barriers that prevent survivors from coming forward. Survivors often suffer from a “double violation”, facing stigma or rejection if they choose to come forward. “Domestic law and policy changes are required,” she stressed, adding that they must be robust, resourced and implemented. States can also empower women before, during and after the onset of armed conflict to support a greater likelihood of achieving a sustainable peace.
She went on to emphasize that women cannot effectively take their seat at the table if they are absent in labour markets, fail to benefit equally from technological advancements, have no access to health care, are impoverished, or are forced to live with the mental scars of conflict and abuse. Only those who control assets will ultimately have an influence when decisions are taken, she said, spotlighting critical technological and digital divides that are holding women back – in particular, in conflict settings. Peace comes within reach when people of all genders are respected, empowered and protected equally, she stressed.
BINETA DIOP, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, described the current impact of armed conflict on women and girls as precarious. The deterioration of the security situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – as well as the chronic nature of the conflict in the Sahel region, the Lake Chad Basin and in parts of East Africa – are combining with the impacts of climate change and declining financial flows to exacerbate the suffering of women and girls. The result has been an unprecedented rate of sexual violence, a deprivation of necessary commodities and services, and the denial of opportunities to fully enjoy the right to peace and security.
Stressing that the international community must restructure and enhance its protection measures, she voiced regret that while many women are engaged in community-level peacebuilding initiatives, their voices have yet to be heard in peace negotiations and mediations where roadmaps to peace are drawn. Citing examples of various African Union efforts to reverse that trend, she said she just returned from a meeting with a group of Ethiopian women who shared their views on their country’s peace negotiations. “When they are not invited to the table, [women] can create their own table […] as they cannot wait anymore,” she stressed. Against that backdrop, she said, the African Union’s Office of Women, Peace and Security is leading a two-pronged strategy. First, it works to strengthen the women, peace and security policy environment by advocating for the adoption and implementation of national action plans. Noting that 61 per cent of African Union member States have adopted such a plan to date, she said the bloc aims to achieve a 75 per cent adoption rate by 2025. Meanwhile, it is also working to strengthen accountability, in particular through its unique Continental Results Framework and annual reporting. The second thread of the African Union’s approach is its African Women’s Network, which ensures that women’s leadership is mainstreamed in peace, development and governance processes – all sectors of life – among member States. Citing progress in implementing existing protection mechanisms, she said 85 per cent of African Union countries have established mechanisms to respond to sexual and gender-based violence in a holistic and gender-sensitive manner.
In addition, she said, the bloc is currently in the process of developing a convention on violence against women and girls. Expressing her hope that all its member States will join such a treaty, she nevertheless agreed with other briefers that more work is needed, especially in preventing violations and supporting victims to rebuild better, through socioeconomic and psychosocial programmes. “We urgently need measures for ending impunity and holding perpetrators into account,” she added. Making several recommendations for the Security Council, she called on its members to work more closely with regional bodies – including the African Union – on its women, peace and security agenda. She also recommended that women’s organizations have access to predictable and flexible funding, which will allow them to effectively carry out their work against today’s challenging backdrop.
LEYMAH R. GBOWEE, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia, expressed solidarity with women across the world suffering injustice and abuse, especially in places where their right to life, education and bodily autonomy is a daily struggle, and by recognizing the efforts of women at the community-level who keep hope alive through their advocacy. Recalling that, almost 23 years ago, when Council resolution 1325 (2000) was passed, the conversation around wars and peace processes were limited to men with political power and guns, while those like her, at the grassroots level, heard the common slogan: “Men make war; they should make peace.” However, it has been proved time and again, she said, that men do make war, but are unable to make peace themselves, she said, adding: “Sadly, the conversation is the same in 2023.”
Stakeholders must ask themselves: “How do we discuss peace and security and leave out 50 per cent of the population? How do we change the dynamic without engaging all the resources at our disposal?” Almost 23 years after the resolution was passed, she said, it is now seen as a tool for nations in a state of war by many actors, with its implementation stalled or slow. Moreover, national action plans based on the agenda are seen by politicians as a tool to window-dress women, peace and security issues to cover up for their failure to integrate women’s rights issues and to impress donors and development partners. At the same time, despite the lack of funds, local activists continue to do their work, proving that, to them, it is not a day’s job but an insurance policy for their children and communities.
Against this backdrop, ahead of the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325, she emphasized the need to view peace not just as an absence of war, but the presence of conditions that dignify all. Pointing out that the greatest threat to women, peace and security in nations across the world is not the barrel of a gun, but economic hardship, health, food insecurity and the climate crisis, she stressed: “When our social budget as nations surpasses our military budget, we will begin to see more peaceful communities.”
She went on to call for women, peace and security to advance beyond a dormant agenda to become an actionable one. To amplify the agenda, she called for women to be engaged at the very beginning of peace missions, and for their counsel to be sought as custodians of their communities. Further, women must be brought to the peace table as mediators and negotiators, not just observers. As they bear the greatest brunt of violence and conflict, they qualify for more than just observer status. She also underlined the need to move beyond political rhetoric and for national action plans to be given matching budgets, adding: “Without funding and political will, the women, peace and security agenda cannot move forward. [Resolution] 1325 will remain a toothless bulldog.” Trying to work towards peace and security globally, without bringing women to the table is like trying to see the whole picture with one eye covered, she said, voicing hope that actionable agendas are undertaken to make the world a more peaceful and just one.
VERÓNICA NATANIEL MACAMO DLHOVO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, Security Council President for March, spoke in her national capacity, reporting that the Government has been implementing different instruments, including a gender policy and strategy; a national action plan for advancement of women; and the law for prevention and combat of early marriages, among others. Detailing Mozambique’s operationalization of resolution 1325 (2000) and implementation of the national action plan, she pointed out that through equal rights to education, illiteracy rates decreased from 88 per cent to 46 per cent from 1980 to 2021 respectively. Further, the percentage of women in the National Assembly increased from 25 per cent in 1997 to 43 per cent in the present legislature, including a female President, among other achievements. Mozambique also has gender parity in the Council of Ministers, where women lead important ministries, including serving as deputy ministers, secretaries of State and provincial governors. The presidents of the Administrative Court and the Constitutional Council are women, including a female attorney general. Moreover, the representation of women in justice administration bodies allows for greater consideration and legal protection of women’s rights in conflict situations, she added.
ALAIN BERSET, President of Switzerland, said resolution 1325 (2000) shifted the world’s understanding of security from an exclusively military one to a view centred on the individual. Citing the current crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, he said the Council must continue to lead in promoting that agenda. It is encouraging to see that more than 100 countries have adopted national action plans for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). Switzerland was one of the first to do so in 2007. Going forward, more action is needed on today’s challenges. Women too often remain the primary targets of violence, hate speech, threats and reprisals. These types of violence have long been known, such as sexual violence, but they also take new forms, such as those perpetrated in the digital space. “This violence is structural, and no society is immune to it,” he stressed, outlining Switzerland’s efforts to address such emerging challenges – including by researching the link between cybersecurity and women – and collaborating along regional and international lines to share best practices. As an elected Council member, Switzerland is also committed to ensuring that the 15-nation organ implements the women, peace and security agenda in all contexts and topics it covers.
ERLYNE ANTONELA NDEMBET DAMAS, Minister for Justice in charge of Human Rights of Gabon, voiced her concern over the regression in women’s rights in several regions of the world. The international community must provide concerted, supportive and inclusive responses, especially since women’s central role in peace processes represents a catalyst for their empowerment and a ticket for the achievement of socioeconomic and political progress. For its part, her Government has reduced gender inequalities and has pledged to ensure sustainable representation of women in governance including through a political mentoring programme for young women. It also held a debate on strengthening women’s resilience and leadership during its tenure as Council President in October 2022. She then called for stepped-up national, regional and global efforts on resolution 1325 (2000) and a strengthening of the gender dimension in peace processes. As the viability of the world’s societies and the resilience of its communities will be measured by the status granted to the other half of humanity, the Council must move beyond principles and good intentions to meaningfully reflect the spirit of that resolution through action.
PAOLA FLORES, Minister for Women and Human Rights of Ecuador, underscoring the importance of resolution 1325 (2000), said her country prioritizes efforts to increase the share of women in its national armed forces and national police – training women to be agents of peace. It is also working on a National Action Plan for implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). Ecuador is a plurinational country that respects diversity, and women representatives of all its peoples – indigenous, Afro-descendant, Montubio and rural – have a seat at the decision-making table. As an elected member of the Security Council, Ecuador has prioritized mainstreaming of the women, peace and security agenda in the organ’s processes and products. Noting with concern ongoing sexual and gender-based violence in many conflicts – from Afghanistan to the Central African Republic to Yemen, Syria, Mali and Myanmar – she said the systematic use of political violence, hate speech and sexual violence as war tactics only deepens divides and pushes back prospects for peace. She expressed hope that, at the Council’s next debate on this issue, the international community will be able to celebrate the reversal of the Taliban’s discriminatory policies, the end of sexual violence in Haiti and elsewhere, and changes that allow women to feel safer around the world more broadly.
LARIBA ZUWEIRA ABUDU, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana, said that in West Africa and the Sahel, women’s groups have played a critical role in advocating for peace and reconciliation. In Mali and Nigeria, networks of women from civil society organizations work tirelessly to promote dialogue and understanding between different ethnic and religious groups, rescue abducted women and girls in occupied territories and provide rescued survivors with assistance and support. These organizations make a real difference in the lives of women in Africa. Urging Governments not to lose momentum, she said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana is implementing resolution 1325 (2000) through the second National Action Plan, which spans 2020-2025. With the support of stakeholders, such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, the Ministry oversees the training of women in peace and security, including on issues such as conflict prevention and mediation at the community level.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) called for women changemakers to be empowered across the world, as Resolution 1325 approaches its twenty-fifth anniversary, citing inspiring instances, including Mozambique’s Marta Uetela, who created high-performance prosthetics from ocean plastics. Recalling that, since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the Council has adopted 10 standalone resolutions on the women, peace and security agenda, she underlined the need to focus on its effective implementation. Citing the Secretary-General, she recalled his point last year that such efforts faced ongoing challenges, especially with respect to regional mandates. Voicing concern about the alarming situation of women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, she said the Council must insist the Taliban reverse their horrific edicts. Further, there must be accountability for Ukrainian women who have been tortured and raped. Outlining her country’s support for women leaders through its Institute of Peace, including in Kenya and Uganda, as well as in Mali and Niger, she said that such engagement is vital, especially with groups like the Taliban targeting women as part of their ideological and tactical objectives.
TARIQ AHMAD, Minister for State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, stressed that peace and security mechanisms must be built upon the needs and voices of all people. He called on the Council to stand with London against the rollback of fundamental human rights and protect gender equality. His Government has launched its fifth national action plan which sets out how women will be at the centre of its conflict resolution work; reflects developments in Ukraine and Afghanistan and transnational threats such as climate and cyber; and aims to prevent gender-based violence while supporting survivors. “There is no religion, no culture, which calls for the suppression of women’s rights,” he said, calling on the Taliban to face the reality that Afghanistan’s progress can only be guaranteed when the rights of women and girls are secure. He then spotlighted his country’s recent conference on preventing sexual violence in conflict and its new three-year strategy and funding on that topic. “Twenty-three years on from resolution 1325, we must not resolve just to stabilize and strengthen rights – we should work to ensure that we put women at the heart of every conflict resolution,” he said.
MARLÈNE SCHIAPPA, Secretary of State for Social and Solidarity Economy and Associative Life of France, said that a strong Council commitment to the women, peace and security agenda is indispensable, especially in light of the massive, systematic violation of women’s rights and freedoms and the sexual and gender-based violence affecting them in conflicts and crisis situations. She commended the role of the International Criminal Court in working to hold perpetrators accountable; urged all partners to step up pressure by imposing sanctions on such violence; and encouraged the Council to incorporate the “never without women” principle in its work. For its part, France will continue to support mandates that ensure women’s protection and participation in United Nations operations; advance their full, equal, substantive and effective participation at all leadership levels; finance training for French-speaking female officers and advisers on gender issues; and counter all forms of violence, threats of reprisals against women peacebuilders. She then called on all States to join the Generation Equality Forum and endorse the compact on women, peace, security and humanitarian action.
REBECCA BUTTIGIEG, Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality of Malta, pointing out that the world continues to witness violations against women in many countries, deplored the Taliban’s gender persecution and discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan. The full spectrum of rights for Afghan women and girls must be respected, she urged, encouraging States to refocus on implementation of challenges of the women, peace and security agenda. Calling on the Council to ensure that authorized mandates monitor and respond to reprisals against human rights, she said the United Nations must lead by example to ensure women’s full participation in all peace and security processes. Moreover, funding must be directed to reverse the financing deficit for gender equality in crisis situations. Noting that impacts of the climate crisis on women and girls should also be addressed, she said that actions to prevent and counter terrorism must respond to the misogyny and patriarchal violence used by terrorist groups. Recalling that Malta adopted its first National Plan in 2020, she said resolution 1325 (2000) was “an evolutionary step forward in the Council’s architecture”.
NOURA BINT MOHAMMED AL KAABI, Minister for State of the United Arab Emirates, said that amid continued misogynistic, violent attacks against women and girls who try to build peace across conflicts, including in Afghanistan, the women, peace and security agenda must be a key prism through which to look at emerging threats. These include climate change, which disproportionately impacts women and girls, affecting their education and employment opportunities, health, and physical safety. Underlining the need to support their participation and amplify their voices in efforts to mitigate, adapt to and address climate-induced issues, she spotlighted that, ahead of the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties in her country, women composed two thirds of its leadership team and more than half of the management team. The international community and Council must implement the agenda consistently into all policy and programming with partners from all segments of society. Further, she emphasized the need to protect women and girls, as one of the strongest tools to defend their participation and empowerment, pointing out that crimes of sexual and gender-based violence continue to be the cheapest weapons of war, terrorizing and controlling whole communities. She underscored the need for States and conflict parties to implement a robust accountability framework to address conflict-related sexual violence, including by promoting a survivor-centred approach. Enumerating achievements in implementing the agenda, including the deployment last month of an additional Senior Women’s Protection Adviser to another United Nations peace mission – now a total of eight – she said that such steps served as a reminder of the objective to work towards.
MARIA LUISA ESCOREL DE MORAES, Vice-Minister for Europe and North America of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil, stressed that the international community must ensure that women’s voices, views and perspectives count. The United Nations must step up its efforts to protect women peacekeepers from sexual harassment and other security threats, she insisted. She then spotlighted her Government’s commitment – especially on integrating women’s perspective into the Security Council’s daily practice – and pledged its continued advocacy for the implementation of women, peace and security resolutions in practice. For its part, States must guarantee the integration of gender-sensitive approaches in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of all United Nations programmes and policies at all levels. They must also increase funding and resources for women-led organizations and grassroots movements working on peacebuilding and conflict resolution, she added, while commending efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission in that regard. “If we truly want to give peace a chance, women must be a given a chance too,” she stressed.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation), highlighting the importance of avoiding duplication in the work of the United Nations’ organs to achieve progress, said that measures undertaken by the Council should be organically woven in the efforts of the General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Commission on the Status of Women and the Peacebuilding Commission. Reiterating that the Council should remain focused on preventing and eradicating violence against civilians during armed conflict, he lamented that women continue to fall victims to armed hostilities. Noting that protracted and low-intensity conflicts trigger additional problems, he called for a heightened focus on women’s development, overcoming poverty and ensuring women’s access to education in countries experiencing armed conflict. As well, the family has a particular value, he stressed, noting that protection of the “institute of the family” remains a top priority. Turning to the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000), he stressed: “We should approach this anniversary with solidarity, demonstrating the weighty achievements and the unity of the Council.”
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania) said that, since it adopted resolution 1325 (2000), the Security Council has adopted nine other resolutions on women, peace and security. “However, reality still needs to catch up with our common aspiration and determination,” she said, citing a gap between promise and practice. The gulf is especially glaring in women’s marginalization around the world, she said, highlighting situations in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan and elsewhere. Describing the increased global push-back on women and girls’ human rights as alarming, she called for efforts to connect the work of women’s civil society groups with wider peace efforts. She also voiced support for calls on United Nations peacekeeping partners to support women’s grass-roots networks, and on men and boys to join in gender advocacy efforts. Noting Albania’s own highly equitable Government, she pledged her country’s commitment to push forward the women, peace and security agenda within the work of the Council and added that it hopes to make gender one of its priorities as a candidate to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), recalling that Japan announced its first women, peace and security national plan in 2015 and revised it after the initial implementation period, said the country is formulating its third national action plan. Noting that numerous concrete actions are specified in the action plan, he said Government ministries and agencies are required to exercise ownership and report on progress. Actions pertaining to natural disasters have also been included, as they are relevant to protecting women in fragile situations. Further, Japan’s national action plan also covers a wide range of international cooperation, he said, adding that the country has been a major contributor to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, among other things. Based on the plan, 69 projects run by international organizations and 18 projects created by non-governmental organizations were funded during the second three-year period of the implementation. Noting that periodical external review mechanisms by academics and civil society have been included in the action plan, he said a parliamentarians’ network was launched in 2023.
LUKA MESEC, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Slovenia, associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, voiced concern about growing setbacks for women around the globe. National action plans are major contributions that every United Nations Member State can make to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), he said, noting that drafting such a plan can have a catalytic effect not only on women’s participation, but on activities of all relevant stakeholders. Slovenia will draft its third such action plan in 2023. Underlining women’s crucial role in preventing and resolving conflicts as well as building and sustaining peace, he said his country’s Peace Operations Training Centre conducts trainings on gender equality and mainstreaming in international missions and operations. In the Security Council’s own work, more is needed to protect women from reprisals for having shared information with members on specific topics and situations. “The Security Council needs to do everything in its power to enable their safe work,” he said.
MARIAN JUREČKA, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs of Czech Republic, aligning with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, stressed the urgent need to integrate the women, peace and security agenda in practice, by integrating it into the work of the Council, amid the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine. Pointing out that the aggression has led to vulnerable civilians, including women and girls, being killed daily, and to millions fleeing the country, including to Czechia, he said almost half a million Ukrainian refugees have been granted temporary protection, 80 per cent of whom are women and children. Therefore, his country is working with civil society and academia to reflect this situation in its second national plan to implement the women, peace and security agenda. He went on to emphasize the need to ensure that women – including civil society representatives and human right defenders – have a seat at the table during all stages of peace dialogues, adding: “It is that simple.”
AAWATIF HAYAR, Minister for Solidarity, Social Integration and Family of Morocco, said that, while a lot has been done to implement Resolution 1325 (2000), including through ensuring the participation of women in peacebuilding operations, a lot remains to be done to surmount existing challenges. The international community must do more to place women at the heart of peacebuilding and sustaining efforts. For its part, Morocco launched its first national action plan in 2022 for the women, peace and security agenda, she said. The workplan is a platform of action, promoting women’s role in prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and women’s empowerment. Turning to peacekeeping, she pointed out that Morocco has taken part in such operations since the 1960s, adding that, since 1992, 2,000 Moroccan women have participated in peacekeeping in conflict and post-conflict settings, including in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS), as well as in the women’s unit of the rapid intervention forces in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
TAINA BOFFERDING, Minister for the Interior and for Equality between Men and Women of Luxembourg, associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, pointed out that ahead of the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) “a great deal is yet to be achieved”. Recognizing that women and girls, including LGBTI+ individuals and people with disabilities, continue to grapple with challenges regarding their participation in decision-making processes for conflict prevention, she said that women, including migrants, should be politically and economically empowered and represented at all decision-making levels. Against this backdrop, Luxembourg continues to finance related initiatives, specifically through official development assistance (ODA). Through joining the pact on women, peace and security and humanitarian action and guided by a new humanitarian strategy, the country has prioritized gender issues. In line with its feminist foreign policy, it continues to implement a national action plan, advancing the status and participation of women in civilian missions. Welcoming the stronger text on women, peace and security in resolutions related to the United Nations missions in Afghanistan and Yemen, she said: “Now more than ever before it is our duty to translate our commitment into action.”
WAFA BANI MUSTAFA, Minister for Social Development of Jordan, said that her country’s elections laws were amended in efforts to increase women’s participation in Jordan’s affairs. The country also adopted national legislation aimed at protecting women and girls, including a law on protection from domestic violence, and added an article to the Constitution guaranteeing the protection of women from all forms of violence and discrimination. Recalling that Jordan was among the first Arab countries to adopt a national plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000), she said the country has linked its national plan to two pillars: enhancing the role of women and fighting extremism and violence; and protecting women refugees from violence, including Syrian refugees and migrants. Noting that Jordan’s plan of action to respond to the Syrian crisis also includes measures to enhance social protection of women refugees regardless of their nationality, she reported that the country’s Social Development Ministry received the 2012 United Nations Award of public services. Pointing out that the country is about to launch its second plan of action, she called for the number of women in peacekeeping to be increased.
LIN YI, Vice-Chairperson of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council of China, pointed out that “she-power” continues to grow, but there is still a long way to build a society with gender equality and inclusive development. Recalling the Beijing Declaration, she underscored that China is an advocate of gender equality and has taken concrete actions in promoting a “Chinese path” to modernize the status of women and protect their interests. The Government has established a legal system with more than a hundred related laws and regulations and is supporting women from all walks of life to participate in politics, decision-making and administration. At present, women account for more than 40 per cent of the workforce in China. As well, about 45 per cent of scientific and technology workers nationwide and 55 per cent of entrepreneurs are women. From rural revitalization to scientific and technological innovation, from social governance to international exchange, more Chinese women have become leaders, she said. Recalling that China has sent more than 1,000 uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations, she said it also helped developing countries to implement child health projects in partnership with UNICEF. Moreover, China has trained more than 130,000 women for developing countries and funded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) prize for girls and women’s education, she said.
AISHA JUMWA K. KATANA, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action of Kenya, described women’s presence on the periphery of decision-making progresses, the continued violation of their rights, minimal financing for women organizations in conflict-affected countries and their continued work for peace in the face of brutality as a tragedy. In light of the impact that armed conflicts and non-inclusive norms have had in rolling back decades of progress, the international community must enhance women’s livelihoods and operationalize their role in building, negotiating and keeping the peace. It must also make their work, experiences and accomplishments visible; amplify their voices; and invest at all levels in their competences. For its part, the Council should invest in regional and local efforts as well as utilize local women’s agencies as interlocutors in security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Calling for the enhanced socialization of the pillars and objectives of Africa’s regional women, peace and security frameworks, she spotlighted her Government’s national efforts on women’s leadership, gender disaggregated data and gender mainstreaming in early warning and response mechanisms, to name a few.
MAI JASEM AL-BAGHLI, Minister for Social Affairs and Community Development and Minister for State for Women and Children Affairs of Kuwait, emphasized the need for more national, regional and international efforts to empower women, protect their rights, ensure their voices are heard, guarantee their participation in decision-making processes and reduce the gender gap. Women are still the first victims of wars; conflicts; security, social, economic and political difficulties; and issues such as climate. Despite that, they have shown over time their ability to confront adversity and have played an essential role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, political operations, humanitarian response programmes, reconciliation and reconstruction. Her Government attaches particular importance to the participation of women in peacekeeping operations and has supported their participation in all political negotiations in its region and throughout the world. Kuwait has continued to strengthen the empowerment of its women after they obtained their political rights, she said, noting that she is a living example of what has been successively achieved for her country’s women.
RODERIC O’GORMAN, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of Ireland, pointed out that women’s real participation sadly remains the exception and that there has been an alarming and accelerating push-back on gender equality and women’s rights more broadly. Nowhere is this more evident than in Afghanistan, where women and girls are being systematically erased from public life. In Haiti, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, Yemen, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, women are seeing their rights denied and interests sidelined in key political processes. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions of women and girls. For that embattled country to emerge from Moscow’s war, women must be represented in all decision-making platforms on de-escalation, conflict prevention and mitigation. Member States cannot afford to wait another two years to make resolution 1325 (2000) and all subsequent resolutions a reality, he insisted, spotlighting Ireland’s recent tenure on the Council and its national efforts. He also stressed that women should never face intimidation, threats or harm as a result of their participation in Council meetings. If the Council is to ever fulfil the promise of that resolution, it must hear their voices, account for their perspectives and ensure their safety.
LINDIWE ZULU, Minister for Social Development for South Africa, said partnerships need to be strengthened as new ones are created. There is room for improvement in fostering closer relations between regional groups and the United Nations. It would be useful to assess implementation of recommendations emanating from the 2015 global study on implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). The study’s tenth anniversary coincides with the resolution’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The full and unconditional implementation of all Council resolutions and decisions is vital to realize the New Agenda for Peace proposed by the Secretary-General. A similar call was made in resolution 2493 (2019), championed by South Africa. South Africa will continue to strengthen existing national mechanisms. For example, the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum, a platform for the exchange of ideas, continues to grow since its inception in 2015.
ANA PAULA DA SILVA DO SACRAMENTO NETO, Minister for Social Assistance, Family and Women’s Empowerment of Angola, speaking for the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries, recognized the contribution of Brazil and Mozambique in the Council and expressed hope that the contribution of the Community will continue with Portugal’s candidacy for the 2027-2028 biennium. Noting that most of the States that belong to the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries approved and implemented the national plan of action on women, peace and security, she urged the international community to ensure that women are no longer considered as victims but are seen as fundamental agents in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. In this regard, she highlighted the importance of educational, academic and professional training as means to deconstruct stereotypes associated with gender, including the involvement of men and boys as agents and beneficiaries of change. She also underlined the importance of including gender perspective in the security sector reform in peace processes.
AYANNA WEBSTER-ROY (Trinidad and Tobago) recalled that her country introduced the first General Assembly resolution on Women, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control in 2010, on the tenth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000). The intent of that text in the Assembly was to challenge the global community to adopt and institutionalize the formula of equitable representation of women at all levels, including in decision-making processes related to peace and security. However, participation of women in matters of peace and security goes beyond symbolic numerical parity. Deliberate interventions are needed to ensure the establishment of a pool of talented female policymakers and practitioners as a means of guaranteeing sustainability. In Trinidad and Tobago, the equal rights of all citizens are enshrined in the Constitution on a non-discriminatory basis, and the goal of gender equality is an integral component of national development policy. The gap between policy and practice in those areas is progressively being narrowed, as evidenced by the ascendency of women to the most senior State offices, including the first female Commissioner of Police.
DILIA LETICIA JORGE MERA, Vice-Minister for Innovation, Transparency and Citizen Service of the Administrative Ministry of the Dominican Republic, said it is important to remove structural barriers and open the way for women’s full participation in activities that build peace and security. The Council must support women’s work in this area. It is a deep source of sorrow for her delegation that women are the most affected by conflicts and sexual violence. Efforts must be focused to protect women from this scourge and empower them and their communities to develop mechanisms, with State support, to help protect them. There must be an end to impunity for perpetrators. These violations against women are deeply rooted in general discrimination against women. It is necessary to build an architecture for peace that protects women against all threats.
VLADIMIR FRANCO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, pointed out that gender equality at the international level remains far from being a tangible reality. Despite the absence of bombs and projectiles, the bodies of women and girls are still battlegrounds for unscrupulous militias as well as those who take advantage of war’s chaos to unleash violence against the most vulnerable members of their communities. Peace and security depend on inclusive States, he insisted, noting that Panama supports Council actions which protect and guarantee the rights of women and girls. To ensure the existence of peaceful, inclusive and democratic societies, States must defend women’s rights in all contexts; maintain their commitment to gender equality; be allies to women in their homes, communities and workplaces; and advocate for an inclusive agenda based on human rights in which women, youth and girls have a voice and are protagonists in building peace.
MARIE BJERRE, Minister for Digital Government and Gender Equality of Denmark, speaking also for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, pointed out that women are at the forefront of conflict and crises, including in Ukraine, where, amid the Russian war of aggression, they are among the first responders and front-line defenders. Such circumstances illustrate why the Council has repeatedly called for women’s participation in all aspects of peace and security, she said, adding that such participation is unfortunately overshadowed by the threat of conflict-related sexual violence. Therefore, she called on all parties to armed conflicts to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law.
She went on to emphasize the importance of meaningful implementation and advancement of the women peace, and security agenda, ahead of the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000). To this end, she highlighted the need to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in decision-making and peacebuilding processes, with women-led organizations being given flexible financing for capacity building, participation and protection against reprisals. Further, more must be done to stop intimidation, attacks and reprisals against all women human rights defenders, peacebuilders and civil society leaders, she said, adding: “We must defend the ‘defenders'”. Citing figures that indicate that in 2021, 35 women human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists were killed as a retaliation for their work, she added that such incidents are heavily underreported. The Council must be informed by a diverse group of briefers, and their participation must be protected, she stressed.
ÁNGELES MORENO BAU, State Secretary for Foreign and Global Affairs of Spain, associating with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, spotlighted her Government’s feminist foreign policy; its commitment to increasing women’s meaningful and substantive participation in conflict prevention, resolution, negotiation and mediation policies; and its contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union in that regard. Spain also supported the launch of the Group of Five Sahel Platform and organized a summit in 2022 to help Afghan women in exile to safely report violations of their rights. Her country advocates for the public reporting of sexual violations relating to conflict, more decisive prevention measures and cooperation to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. She then shared her Government’s national experience and underlined the need to have a specific budget with qualitative indicators to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the women, peace and security agenda and to enable the broad participation of civil society.
BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said the world currently faces a pandemic of violence, war, hate, extremism and terrorism, which impacts civilians, particularly women and girls, the most. Resolution 1325 (2000) has helped nearly 90 countries adopt action plans empowering women and girls and helping them respond to violence and conflict, while the expanded presence of women peacekeepers has contributed to preventing and containing conflicts and crimes against women. Nevertheless, the sombre reality remains that women continue to be the primary victims of crimes and conflict around the globe. He expressed disappointment over restrictions recently imposed on women in Afghanistan – including their right to access work and education at all levels – and urged that country’s Taliban leaders to reverse those rules. Meanwhile, the most egregious hypocrisies and crimes against women and girls occur in foreign occupations and places where the right to self-determination is violated, such as the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jammu and Kashmir. Against that backdrop, he stressed that all occupation forces must be held accountable to fully implement the women, peace and security agenda.
LAURA GIL SAVASTANO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, condemned all violations of women’s rights anywhere in the world, while spotlighting the struggle of Iran’s women. Noting that the women, peace and security agenda – as it currently stands – needs an injection of modernity, she emphasized that it is nevertheless bearing fruit in Colombia. “We wish to be an international reference point for peace and for life,” she said, adding: “The change lies with, and for, women.” Colombian women in all their diversity are serving as agents of change. Recalling that the country negotiated the world’s first peace agreement with the full participation of women, she said it is now developing an exemplary national action plan centred around the needs and rights of victims. In Colombia, women are redefining the content of resolution 1325 (2000), moulding it and treating it as a “living document”. Against that backdrop, she said the Security Council’s women, peace and security agenda lacks diversity and intersectionality, adding that the LGBTI community deserves more attention.
IRINA VELICHKO, Head of the Directorate General of Multilateral Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, noting that instruments of the European security architecture are “sharing times of strain”, suggested thinking about security in the broader Eurasian context. She pointed out that, as the Chair of the Collective Security treaty Organization, Belarus intends to hold an international conference on prospects for security in Eurasia in Minsk. In this regard, she welcomed the active participation of women, urging the international community to strengthen their participation in peace maintenance. Noting that women, particularly women with children, suffer most in armed conflicts, she went on to question: “Are women always only victims of conflict? Aren’t women often the supporters of conflict as well?” Turning to the issue of “illegal sanctions”, she pointed out that women often lobby for “destructive opportunistic sanctions”. Spotlighting the paradox of the situation, she noted that some women create a direct threat to global security, whereas others are falling victim to it.
KALYPSO GOULA, Secretary General for Gender Equality, Demography and Family, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of Greece, associating herself with the European Union, said implementation of the women, peace and security agenda is among priorities of the Greek Security Council candidacy for 2025-2026. She went on to say that her country seeks to enhance inclusion of women in peace processes and advocates for the protection of women from conflict-related, gender-based and sexual violence. To highlight the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women journalists, she said Greece, along with like-minded countries, promoted General Assembly resolution 76/173 (2021). The resolution, unanimously adopted by consensus, makes an explicit reference to the women, peace and security agenda, she added.
HANNA VSEVIOV, Deputy Secretary-General for Social Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Communications for Estonia, aligning with the European Union, said that women’s rights are still not protected amid violent conflict, pointing out that Ukrainian women and children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Women are at the mercy of Russian soldiers, who wield the threat of sexual violence as a war tactic. While their mothers are being killed or raped, thousands of Ukrainian children are in filtration camps, from where they are deported to Russia or subjected to forceful adoptions, she said, calling on the international community to support Ukraine and its victims of aggression. Against this backdrop, Ukraine’s launch of its women, peace and security action plan amid such challenges deserves recognition, she said. Turning to the need for accountability, she spotlighted sanctions imposed by the European Union on nine persons responsible for sexual violence, among whom number two Russian commanders, for their deeds in Ukraine. All perpetrators must be held accountable, as impunity only leads to new crimes, she added.
AMAL HAMAD, Minister for Women’s Affairs of the Observer State of Palestine, said that resolution 1325 (2000) is at its core aimed at achieving just peace, to which the participation of women effectively contributes. However, she pointed out that her State faces an exceptional situation, as it has been occupied since 1948, citing the recent remarks of Israel’s Finance Minister, who called for the village of Hawara to be wiped off the face of the earth, bringing back memories of the “Nakba” (destruction of Palestinian society and homeland in 1948). Representatives, including from the European Union, who tried to assess the magnitude of damage wrought in the village have been attacked, she said, adding that, as a result, the State’s path to peace is uncertain. It is currently experiencing an entrenchment of occupation and the acquisition of its lands by force, she said, adding that, despite such challenges, the State has acceded to 87 conventions and protocols and is fully committed to international legitimacy. She stressed the need to hold accountable those responsible for criminal acts, to end the impunity of Israel’s occupation, including that of its settlers, and to protect Palestinians, especially women and girls, who are subjected to daily threats of killing, and whose homes are being demolished.
KATERYNA LEVCHENKO, Government Commissioner for Gender Equality Policy of Ukraine, said that sexual violence has been a hallmark of the Russian Federation’s invaders, especially in Kherson, where a Russian soldier repeatedly raped a 62‑year‑old woman; in Kyiv, where invaders raped a girl and her mother, beat the father and forced him to watch; and in Sviatohirsk, where three Russian soldiers raped a woman. Ukraine has recorded 171 such incidents, she reported, noting that these figures, which include 39 men, 13 minors and one boy, do not reflect those suffering in silence. Considering such crimes, the entire free world must guarantee justice for Ukraine and set a precedent for any potential aggressor to realize that such violence will not go unpunished. Her Government fully endorses the global campaign to ban rape as a weapon of war. Ukraine’s women are not just victims, she continued, spotlighting their many contributions and Kyiv’s national action plan. She called on all States to recognize that women’s voices must be heard in negotiations for peace; eliminate barriers hindering their political participation; and undertake concrete steps on the women, peace and security agenda.
STELLA RONNER-GRUBAČIĆ, Ambassador for Gender and Diversity of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stressed that the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, offline and online, demands the Council’s attention. The world faces a changing security context, characterized by hybrid threats, energy blackmail, disinformation, food insecurity and the increasing weaponization of suffering. Yet, some problems are depressingly familiar – women human rights defenders and peacebuilders are the targets of attacks and threats in many parts of the world. This is unacceptable, she underscored, calling for the Council to address the disproportionate effect that armed conflicts continue to have on women and girls. To counter this, there must be close cooperation between the United Nations, its Member States, regional organizations, academia, think tanks, civil society, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and media workers. As such, the European Union welcomes the Secretary-General’s “New Agenda for Peace”.
While the pursuit of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine requires the full force of the Charter of the United Nations and international law to deal with violence faced by that country’s women and girls, she stressed that these same issues require equal attention wherever they occur. In that regard, the European Union continues to contribute through gender mainstreaming in its civilian and military missions and operations; placing the women, peace and security agenda at the top of its joint priorities with the United Nations; and adopting the Council’s conclusions on that agenda in November 2022 while reaffirming its members’ determination to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in security-related discussions. The bloc also continues to engage actively with women’s organizations, women human rights defenders working in conflict-related settings, women mediators, women journalists, media workers and peacebuilders.
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said women have played an integral role in peace movements and disarmament efforts around the world and have been at the forefront of advocating for a nuclear-free world for decades. Enabling women to be agents of change, including by eliminating patriarchal patterns of decision-making, is an obligation of the women, peace and security agenda. It is urgently needed to create a safe and peaceful world. In Myanmar, for example, women and youth have played a particularly important role in resisting the military coup, peacefully standing up for democracy and the rule of law and combating crimes against humanity committed by the military junta. Yet they remain largely excluded from formal political decision-making and face attacks and retaliation. As the resolution’s twenty-fifth anniversary approaches, the international community must improve its implementation and apply it across thematic files and country situations dealt with in the Security Council and beyond.
SYLVIA PAOLA MENDOZA ELGUEA (Mexico) said that when her delegation was an elected member of the Council, it worked to advance the women, peace and security agenda and has made it a part of the country’s feminist foreign policy. Her delegation promoted an intersectional approach that includes working with regional partners and civil society and ensures that peacekeeping missions are properly equipped to protect women. While progress has been made, huge challenges remain, she said, expressing concern about backsliding, such as cases of sexual violence in the war in Ukraine and restrictions imposed on women in Afghanistan. The international community needs to redouble its efforts to give women equal participation in decision-making processes at all levels, including peacekeeping.
KHATANA TOTLADZE, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, associating herself with the European Union, recalled that her Government adopted its national action plan for 2022-2024 on 25 October 2022, which was elaborated in cooperation with a local non-governmental organization that works in women’s rights and with women activists. Noting that one of the priorities includes enhancing women’s participation in peace and security processes, she pointed out that Georgia also promoted conflict-affected women as a driving force of public diplomacy. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, she pointed out that over 10 million Ukrainians have been forcefully displaced, becoming vulnerable to the risks of human trafficking. Highlighting the ongoing aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and its continued occupation of the two regions in Georgia, she pointed out that women and girls living in the occupied regions are unable to benefit from the human rights protection network of Georgia’s Government.
AHMED MOHAMED EZZAT AHMED ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt), stressing the importance of addressing the women, peace and security agenda with a holistic approach, said his country takes pride in championing General Assembly resolutions on actions against sexual exploitation and abuse, including resolution 76/303 (2022). Pointing out that the President of Egypt was among the first leaders to join the circle of leadership initiatives that prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions, he said raising awareness on these issues constitutes an integral part of Egyptian forces’ training prior to their deployment to peace operations. Respect of national ownership and consideration of cultural and societal specificities of different countries in armed conflict or emerging from armed conflict are key in collective efforts aiming to advance implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, he said.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) outlined steps taken by his country to implement resolution 1325 (2000), including through its recent adoption of the second national action plan for 2022-2024. The action plan has a particular focus on ensuring inclusive engagement of women affected by conflict, and it sets objectives such as increasing the involvement of women in the armed forces and police system. However, his country is bearing the consequences of violence by Azerbaijan, which has, since 2020, caused displacement and suffering, with a disproportionate impact on women and girls, he said. Azerbaijan’s armed attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh involved massive bombardments, artillery and missile strikes that heavily damaged several medical facilities, including a maternity hospital, he continued, adding that acts of violence launched in September 2022 by that country included the capture, torture and execution of female soldiers, with those atrocities being celebrated in Azerbaijani social networks. Such humanitarian emergencies demonstrate that the United Nations needs to re-equip itself to better deliver on the women, peace and security agenda, he added.
HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed the need for meaningful progress to be made in implementing the women, peace and security agenda, including by enhancing cooperation with regional organizations. He went on to cite steps taken by the bloc in this regard, including its efforts to strengthen women’s leadership through the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry, set up under the aegis of the ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation, thereby allowing countries to pool expertise and integrate a gender perspective in conflict-prevention initiatives.
Further, he said, the bloc has made efforts to mainstream the women, peace and security agenda in its peace and security decision-making process through an action plan in this regard – the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Women, Peace and Security. However, the plan requires political support in its implementation, including by the Council, he added. As a region which is home to 340 million women from 10 countries, the bloc devised a website in 2022, which encourages women’s participation in women, peace and security, he said.
Making a statement in his national capacity, he said that Indonesia is far from achieving its targets in the women, peace and security agenda, with a low or negligible number of women negotiators and peacekeepers. Therefore, he stressed the need for the country to intensify capacity-building to achieve the women, peace and security agenda in line with the Secretary-General’s system-wide strategy on gender parity. Women’s voices must be heard in advancing the New Agenda for Peace by enhancing their participation in peacekeeping, mediation and countering violent extremism, he added.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) pointed out that conflicts, such as the Russian Federation’s attacks against Ukraine, continue to break down efforts to ensure greater space and influence for women. Against this backdrop, there must be a holistic approach to problems and opportunities to advance the women, peace and security agenda. Their full, equal, effective and significant inclusion and participation is crucial for countries’ development and global peace and stability, she emphasized, spotlighting her Government’s efforts in prioritizing women’s participation in peacekeeping operations by deploying 300 women to United Nations missions. Countries must continue to train, deploy and employ women in peace processes because of their demonstrated impact, she said. She then underlined the role of regional organizations and the United Nations in implementing that agenda, while underscoring the main responsibility of States. She also spotlighted her Government’s national action plan and reaffirmed the importance of national leadership, ownership and inclusion.
JOANNA SYLWIA SKOCZEK (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said Poland is currently implementing its first national action plan on women in peace and security. Its activities are focused on enhancement of the participation of women in crisis management and peacebuilding missions within the United Nations system, the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). One of the priorities is to raise awareness of preventing and combating conflict-related sexual violence, she added. Recognizing the growing violence of the Russian Federation’s soldiers in Ukraine, used as a war tactic and a way to dehumanize victims, she urged the international community to redouble efforts in fighting all forms of conflict-related violence and enhance victims’ support. “The count of those forced to flee their homes hit the highest number since records began – over 100 million last year,” she said, pointing at emergency situations in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and other places. Recognizing that preventing women from political engagement and curbing their public activity negatively impacts crisis prevention and post-conflict recovery, she called for protection mechanisms.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany) pointed out that it is often the elected members of the Security Council that push forward important agenda items, as Germany did during its recent term with resolution 2467 (2019), on measures to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence, and resolution 2538 (2020), on women in peacekeeping. Welcoming strides made since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) – including better protection, better integration of gender perspectives and progress in women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace and security matters – she nevertheless stressed that much more remains to be done, as challenges to women are on the rise around the globe. “We all need to ensure that frequent [women, peace and security] references in statements at the United Nations and elsewhere do not just remain rhetorical, but are implemented in practice,” she said. Highlighting three ways forward, she said Member States must start at home. For its part, Germany has put in place a very specific national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and put forward guidelines for its feminist foreign policy. In addition, the global community should reinforce existing instruments, including by expanding political space for women and marginalized groups, and ensure the women, peace and security agenda is advanced through joint policy documents.
RAWA ZOGHBI (Lebanon) pointed out that, up until last year, only 26 women were permanent representatives on the Security Council. As greater efforts must also be made in various areas, Council resolution 1325 (2000) is vital for recognizing women’s role in peace and security as well as their contributions to the solution of conflicts. Despite difficulties facing Lebanon, her country continues to make headway on women’s participation in peace and security; adopted its first national action plan in 2019; and has undertaken several practical steps. It has also made progress on women serving in the military, she added, sharing one woman’s recent participation in a training course in the United States – who could be the first Lebanese woman to pilot a warplane – as an example to demonstrate that there are no limits to what women can achieve. She then voiced her hope for more women in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said the need for women’s participation in peacekeeping is the core challenge of resolution 1325 (2000). Data shows that in the last two years women’s participation as party negotiators or delegates in peace-processes have decreased from 23 per cent to 19 per cent, even with their constructive contribution at the grassroots level and their presence on the front lines. Structural barriers to implementation must be addressed. Italy, with a long tradition of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, supports the Mediterranean Women Mediators’ Network, which it launched in October 2017. The Network promotes gender equality and foster women’s inclusion in peace processes, mediation efforts and peacebuilding in the Mediterranean region. The Network, which offers training, capacity building and networking opportunities, has helped establish the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediators Network. This helps unite voices from six different regions of the world.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines) said the Philippines’ National Action Plan from 2017-2022 recently closed and the Government is formulating its action plan for 2023-2028. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity leads the Government’s National Steering Committee on Women, Peace and Security. It has conducted three comprehensive consultations to assess the Plan’s implementation and the next round of consultations with civil society, with the support of UN-Women. The upcoming version of the Plan will stand alongside the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. They work with the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on WPS, which was launched in December last year, he said, adding that the Philippines also supports the ASEAN Women Peace Registry.
RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said there remains a significant gap between ambition on women, peace and security commitments and the realization of women’s and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation in political, peace and security processes. Regrettably, women and girls continue to be excluded from decision-making and face discrimination, sexual and gender-based violence – both offline and online – as well as human rights violations. The Group will continue to advocate for and support women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership, at all levels and in all stages of political, peace and security processes – including United Nations-led peace processes – and promote safe and enabling environments for all women peacebuilders, mediators, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, journalists and media workers.
Against that backdrop, he called on the Council to ensure that all United Nations missions provide, monitor and report on support to women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, and to fully ensure the independent contribution of civil society to the Council’s work. He also underlined the need to strengthen international support and protection for women refugees and displaced women in conflict and post-conflict settings, in particular protection against human trafficking and conflict-related violence; prevent and respond to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination; and promote accountability for such violence, including by applying conflict-related sexual violence as a designation criterion in sanction regimes.
Delivering remarks in his national capacity, he said more must be done to protect women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. Canada has its own set of guidelines, known as “Voices at Risk”, to protect civil society activists and peacebuilders. It has also launched a new five-year women, peace and security programme in the lead-up to the agenda’s twenty-fifth anniversary, he said.
ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries, and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that closing the gender leadership gap is essential for national and global security. Pointing out the importance of protecting women’s rights in a time of conflict, she urged States to intensify efforts to combat sexual and gender violence and close the digital gap. Noting that Portugal is preparing a third edition of its national action plan on women, peace and security, she said resolution 1325 (2000) led to the integration of gender perspectives into the Portuguese armed forces. As a result, a “Defence action plan for equality” was created, outlining measures to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping missions. She went on to say that, on 26 April, the Portuguese Ministry of Defence will host an international seminar to discuss preliminary lessons of the war in Ukraine from a gender perspective.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with ASEAN, said that the road from political will to action has not been easy, as some countries and regions are still embroiled in war, conflict and poverty. Gender-based violence remains a scorch, he added, noting that the lives and dignity of women are still under threat. In this regard, he urged States to reaffirm their commitment to coordinating policy orientations and actions to promote cooperation on global gender equality. He called for more programmes and capacity-building for women at local, national and international levels. Recalling that Viet Nam’s women-peacekeepers are integrated in various peacekeeping missions, he underscored the key role of women, peace and security on the country’s agenda, including during its two terms serving in the Security Council.
STEPHANIE COPUS CAMPBELL (Australia) said that achieving peace and security will be easier with systematic and sustained actions as well as adequate resourcing on the four pillars of the agenda. She went on to say that this includes full and equal participation and leadership of women and girls, as well as people of diverse gender identities, in the security sector, military contingents, peacekeeping forces and peacemaking. Turning to the climate crisis, she underscored the importance of recognizing its impact on global peace and security, pointing out that consequences of natural hazards differ by gender and have disproportionate effects on many women and girls. To effectively address all forms of gender-based violence, including sexual violence in conflict, States should partner with civil society and support human rights defenders, she stressed. Australia does this through work with the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, she noted, including regional women’s peace negotiator networks, and by implementing national and regional plans on women, peace and security.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) pointed out that women are still routinely underrepresented in and excluded from formal peace processes, political dialogues and peacebuilding. To fully harness the transformative potential of the women, peace and security agenda, Member States must provide a conducive environment for their participation, with the principles of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law as essential prerequisites. They must also equally focus on the socioeconomic empowerment of women in a holistic manner. For their part, the United Nations and regional organizations must assist national authorities upon request in strengthening legal frameworks and institutional structures to ensure accountability. They should also provide capacity building support in post-conflict situations to address the inequalities and violence women face. She then spotlighted her Government’s deployment of women peacekeepers as well as its support for increasing women protection advisors. As terrorism and violent extremism continue to be the biggest violators of human rights, there must be a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of terrorism. She then dismissed Pakistan’s frivolous, baseless and politically motivated remarks regarding Jammu and Kashmir.
ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia) spotlighted his Government’s commitments, which included being among the top 20 troop contributing countries in terms of its women peacekeepers and hosting an international conference in June 2022 on strengthening women’s role in peacekeeping. He urged the United Nations system to achieve more towards the twenty-fifth anniversary of Council resolution 1325 (2000) by accelerating implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the “New Agenda for Peace” and other internationally agreed development goals. The international community must genuinely recognize women’s key role in achieving sustainable peace and development as peacemakers, peacekeepers, peacebuilders and responders to crisis, he stressed. It must also recommit to the promotion of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and the realization of their human rights.
IOANA-CRISTINA MIHAIL (Romania) emphasized the need to protect women and girls from the violence of conflict and ensure their participation in conflict prevention and resolution. She spotlighted her Government’s implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) at the national level through its national action plans, the second of which aims to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making spaces where men tend to dominant and focuses on medical, psychological and social support for victims of sexual violence. Romania is also serving with the United States as a Co-Chair of the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network and has included the objectives of the women, peace and security agenda in its efforts as a 2023-2025 member of the Human Rights Council. As armed conflicts continue to have a disproportionate impact on women and girls worldwide through the prevalence of sexual violence, she stressed the need to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.
JOCHEN HANS-JOACHIM ALMOSLECHNER (Austria), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said the world is currently witnessing a significant backlash against women’s rights, especially in conflict situations. The Taliban’s ascent to power has wiped out strides towards gender equality in Afghanistan in mere months, he said, strongly condemning in particular a recent decree that bars women from working for non-governmental organizations – with devastating impacts on humanitarian aid delivery. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and its continued targeted attacks on civilian facilities such as schools and hospitals – and its use of sexual violence as a weapon of war – is another painful example of how women’s situation in conflict settings has worsened. Expressing his full support for the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and for the work of the International Criminal Court on that matter, he went on to reject the disproportion use of force against civilian protesters by Iran’s authorities, as well as the execution of protesters in that country.
NORDIANA BINTI ZIN ZAWAWI (Malaysia), aligning herself with ASEAN, voiced her concern that rhetorical support has continued to outpace its actual achievement. Advancing the women, peace and security agenda must be in tandem with efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, calling for gender equality to be systematically integrated in all agendas to further empower the role of women in achieving sustainable peace. She then spotlighted her Government’s peacekeepers as well as its national policy, which aims to ensure access to opportunities, equitable resource sharing and women’s integration in all sectors. Echoing the Secretary-General, who stated that achieving gender equality and empowering women are the unfinished business and greatest human rights challenges of the day, she stressed that excluding women from peace and security is no longer an option.
IVARS LIEPNIEKS (Latvia) said more countries, including Latvia, have developed national action plans as road maps for ensuring that women’s needs and priorities are integrated into all aspects of peacebuilding. Yet women continue to be underrepresented in peace negotiations and security decision-making roles. In the last 25 years, women made up just 13 per cent of negotiators, 6 per cent of mediators and 6 per cent of signatories in major peace processes. “At this rate, it may take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality – all of this while women and girls are disproportionately affected by conflict,” he said. Sexual and gender-based violence remains pervasive in conflict situations, and women and girls are often the primary victims. One of the main indicators of the success of the women, peace and security agenda will be the international response to crimes committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.
AMARA SHEIKH MOHAMMED SOWA (Sierra Leone) underlined the need for the international community to address the unfair treatment of women in societies affected by inequality, poverty and conflict, pointing out that more than 50 per cent of the current global population of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are women, girls and children from conflict-affected societies. He outlined measures taken to advance the women, peace and security agenda in Sierra Leone, including its Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill, which was passed into law on 15 November 2022. This measure is an unprecedented win for women in the country, as it represents the single largest increase to women’s political participation, women’s access to finance, employment opportunity, equal pay, as well as establishes a 30 per cent quota for women’s participation in governance for both appointed and elective positions, he said.