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Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at the installation of Anna Lindh professor Annick Wibben at the Swedish Defence University

Published

Stockholm, Sweden, 9 January 2019. Check against delivery.

Vice Chancellor Enmark, Professor Wibben, dear friends,
Thank you for inviting me to speak today at this inaugural lecture. I know it is not your first time here, but welcome to Stockholm, professor Wibben. And warm congratulations on your appointment. And congratulations to the Swedish Defence University, for receiving a professor with such excellent qualifications in research on security and military studies, international theory, and feminist international relations.

I’m delighted that the idea of an Anna Lindh Professor at the Swedish Defence University has now become a reality. It was an idea that Robert Egnell and I came up with when we sat in my office discussing the best ways to advance the cause of women, peace and security. As many of you already know, one of my highest priorities during the past four years has been to pursue a feminist foreign policy.

I am going to keep this short, as I know that everyone, myself included, is eager to hear Professor Wibben’s lecture. However, I would like to say a few words about Anna Lindh and her legacy. I would also like give an example of why I think a feminist foreign policy is so important: namely, the role played by women in the Colombian peace process.

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Anna Lindh was a close friend of mine, and I still miss her immensely following her brutal murder in 2003. Unfortunately, her time in this world was all too short.
Anna once took her young sons with her to New York, where they visited the UN Headquarters. She showed them the General Assembly, they walked in the corridors and looked at art from all over the world, and they went to the Security Council. Anna’s sons really enjoyed the visit and were interested in everything they saw. But they soon noticed that wherever they went there were lots of men in dark suits. Anna’s youngest son finally asked: “Are the women arriving later?”
Sometimes it takes a child to speak the truth, and this surely was one of those occasions. “Where are the women?” is a phrase I have used too many times in my political life. The lack of women in everything from decision-making to peace negotiations and economic life is still outrageous, and is something I know inspired much of Anna Lindh’s work.

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You are perhaps aware that when the formal peace talks between the Colombian Government and FARC began in Havana, Cuba, in November 2012, only one of the 20 negotiators around the table was a woman. A year later, civil society leaders organised the first-ever National Summit of Women and Peace and out of that summit came a clear demand for an inclusive peace process. Two years later, women made up 20 per cent of the Government’s negotiating team and 43 per cent of the FARC delegates.

So, what happened? By organising themselves, these women contributed in crucial ways to the peace-making effort, including by broadening the agenda. Women addressed some of the primary grievances of affected communities, such as land restitution and the right to justice and reparations for victims. Women also negotiated local ceasefires, which improved the local security situation in towns and villages across the country.

Because of demands by women negotiators and civil society, FARC undertook several confidence-building measures, such as an apology process and the release of child soldiers. Finally, women built coalitions and rallied public support in favour of the peace talks. By repairing relations in communities affected by the conflict, women and civil society laid the groundwork for the peace-building efforts necessary for the agreement’s long-term success.

The peace agreement in Colombia serves as a model of inclusion. Women were key to its success, and their continued involvement will be key to the implementation of the peace process and to consolidating peace.

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This is just one of the many ways in which gender equality is not just a women’s issue – it’s a peace and security issue. Again, I am very happy and proud that Sweden now has an academic centre for women, peace and security studies here at the Swedish Defence University. And I am convinced that this will contribute to advancing gender equality in peace processes and security policy, thus contributing to peace itself.

With that, I give the floor to Professor Annick Wibben.

Thank you.