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Speech at the UN Security council debate on Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
Margot Wallström, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, New York, 27 October 2017.
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Mr President, Colleagues, Friends,
I come here directly from a visit to Herat and Kabul in Afghanistan. I met with women and girls in the midst of conflict. They struggle to make ends meet and to keep their families safe. They face a constant risk of sexual violence.
While talking to these women, my thought was: "What does the Women, Peace and Security agenda do for them"?
Well, it should ensure that the women I met, for instance, those who work in the security sector, have more female colleagues; and that they can work without the threat of harassment.
It should ensure that the female mediators, that Sweden has provided training for, can have a real role. And work without the shadow of death threats.
And, it should ensure that the girl I met – 18 years old, married away at 13, and with five children – that she, perhaps, would have had ten more years, to grow as a person, to get an education, to realise her dreams in life.
Oppression of women is a global disease. We see how women, all over the world, are systematically underrepresented in decision-making, how women receive fewer resources, and how women lack fundamental rights in a number of areas.
Sexual violence, as a weapon of war, is a horrendous manifestation of the oppression of women.
I got to see this up close when I, as you might recall, was the first Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict a few years ago. I often say that it was a role that left me with a heavier heart, but also with hope for the future.
What I came to realise was that we make three mistakes when we look at this issue. We tend to view it as inevitable; unspeakable and as a lesser crime.
I had that job back in 2010-2012 when resolution 1325 turned ten years. Today we have had that resolution, and seven more, for 17 years, and we are still, unfortunately, far from eradicating this horrendous practice. It saddens me. But it also strengthens my resolve.
In order to achieve real results for the Women Peace and Security agenda, we need to work systematically. We need to have a gender perspective in all aspects of peace building.
Let me point to three important aspects.
First: data and analysis. We can do much more about the situation on the ground, if we have and use disaggregated data on women and men. As an example, it could concern statistics on education, internally displaced people or the number of women and men employed in the police force.
Once we have the data, we need to look at it carefully before drawing conclusions. Reporting should have an integrated gender perspective which feeds into the Secretary General's recommendations and conclusions. Women's civil society organisations, often at the frontline, can give valuable input.
Sweden stands ready to work with the UN to enhance data collection, and analysis of gender disaggregated data.
Second: expertise. Many reports have highlighted how gender experts contribute to the overall success of UN Missions. I am worried that budget cuts and mainstreamed mandates could result in cuts of essential gender expertise in UN missions. This would mean that we risk leaving out half of the population in our critical work on Protection of Civilians or strengthening the Rule of Law. And we all must get better at training and providing women to UN peace missions.
Third: Women's organisations and networks. Women organisations receive a disproportionately small amount of development funding. This must change. Whether in the public, private or NGO spheres, there are networks of active women who are actors for peace and security. We should support women's organisations and networks where we can, and enable them to participate fully at a local, national and also at an international level.
When Sweden joined the Security Council, we set out two overarching priorities: Conflict Prevention and Women, Peace and Security. In all our work in the Council, we have sought to operationalise the Women, Peace and Security agenda. For instance, through ensuring the inclusion of gender reporting in mission mandates and adding listing criterion for sexual and gender-based violence in sanctions regimes. We will continue this work, with commitment, not only on a day like this, but on every other day as well.
It gives me hope that the new UN leadership places gender at the centre of its diplomacy for peace.
It also gives me hope to read the Secretary-General's report, which points out that meaningful participation of women has a demonstrated impact on the sustainability and effectiveness of peace processes, economic development and social prosperity.
There is a momentum for women's participation in peace processes. We should seize this momentum, and place women's full enjoyment of their rights at the core of international peace and security. This is not a women's issue. It is a peace and security issue. This is necessary to successfully respond to the many crises on the Council's agenda. The frameworks and tools are in place – it is up to us to make it happen.
We know what is needed. Political space. Active civil society organisations. Constant capacity building.
And we have examples. For instance, in Afghanistan, where the restructured High Peace Council has 13 female members and 39 male members, Sweden has supported local female leaders to build their capacity to participate in mediation and dialogue processes.
In Somalia, political will from the National Leadership Forum ensured a quota for women in parliament – despite resistance to women's participation.
In Colombia, women's organisations paved the way for women's inclusion in the peace process.
True change can only be achieved with strong and courageous political leadership. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed set an example through the joint UN-African Union high-level mission to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which focused on Women, Peace and Security and development. We should build on this good example and use this methodology in future country visits.
Gender equality makes societies more peaceful. Or as I like to put it: More women more peace. We, the Security Council, need to show leadership. Not only today, but across the country-specific files and in all aspects of our work.
Let us remember Hammarskjöld's words;
No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled.