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8382nd Meeting (AM)

United Nations Gender Equality Chief, Briefing Security Council, Points Out ‘Systemic Failure’ to Integrate Women in Peacekeeping, Mediation

Citing Exclusion, Inadequate Funding, Secretary-General Highlights ‘Significant Gap’ Between Words Spoken in Chamber, Actions Outside

Nearly two decades after the Security Council’s adoption of a landmark resolution on women, peace and security, the head of the United Nations entity responsible for gender equality warned today of “systemic failure” to integrate women into such critical processes as peacekeeping, mediation and peace negotiations, as the 15-member organ convened its annual open debate on the issue.

“Our continued tolerance for the limited recognition of women’s expertise and lived experience is shameful,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women).  Presenting figures from the Secretary-General’s most recent report analysing the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), she said women constituted only 2 per cent of mediators, 8 per cent of negotiators and 5 per cent of witnesses and signatories to major peace processes between 1990 and 2017.  Only three out of 11 peace agreements signed in 2017 contain provisions on gender equality, a worrisome trend that now continues in current peacemaking efforts in Yemen, Mali, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.

Also pointing to low representation of women in elections, girls’ continued lack of access to primary school and increases in sexual violence, she emphasized the need for strong investments in women to reverse the situation.  “It is time for the United Nations to have a […] conversation about supporting, brokering and paying for peace negotiations that exclude women,” she stressed.  Underlining women’s vast potential to improve peacemaking processes, she acknowledged that progress can be maddeningly slow or even met with backlash.  Nevertheless, she declared:  “If women are supported to organize effectively, it is also unstoppable.”

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, agreed that on the issue of women, peace and security “there is a significant gap between what we say in this Chamber and what we do outside”.  While violent conflicts have increased, and more people are displaced than ever before, he cited reasons not to give up hope — particularly regarding women’s potential to reverse those trends.  For example, he said, women’s groups are engaged in dialogue in Guinea-Bissau and rebuilding communities in Colombia.  In Syria and Yemen, women mediated the creation of civilian safe zones, among other local agreements.  Meanwhile, the Nobel Peace Prize was recently awarded to two champions of women — Denis Mukwege, a doctor treating victims of sexual violence, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist.

Randa Siniora Atallah, General Director of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, also briefed the Council on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.  Noting that Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the resulting humanitarian crisis exacerbate existing gender inequalities, she said Palestinian women face daily attacks, threats, intimidation, discrimination and restrictions on their movement by the Israeli military.  The occupation reinforces the patriarchal structures of Palestinian society, she said, adding that political violence in the public sphere leads to spikes in violence in the private sphere.  She also noted that recent cuts in funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have had a disproportionate effect on the lives of Palestinian women.

Throughout the day-long debate, more than 90 speakers took the floor to share national experiences or describe policies aimed at boosting women’s meaningful engagement in public life.  Many expressed concern at the still marginal numbers of women serving as Blue Helmet peacekeepers, conflict mediators or negotiators in official peace processes.  Some spotlighted women’s expanding roles in their country’s own political systems, while others underlined their special “transformative” abilities to understand the needs of communities, calm inter-ethnic tensions and combat the narratives driving the scourge of violent extremism.  Several speakers also hailed the recent appointment of Ethiopia’s first female President, Sahle-Work Zewde.

Peru’s representative said that while strides have been made in pushing forward the Council’s women, peace and security agenda, many barriers and challenges still persist.  “Women provide a focus on the future and on unity which are indispensable to peace,” he said, adding that they are also crucial to preventing violence and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Calling on Member States to finance the participation of women’s groups when called upon by the Council to do so, he joined other speakers in expressing support for the integration of a gender perspective into the all the peacekeeping mandates decided by the 15-member organ.

Lebanon’s delegate was among those speakers voicing concern that women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately and in the most abhorrent ways during conflicts and wars.  Noting that no lasting or sustainable security can be achieved without women’s meaningful engagement, she said the progress of integrating them has been slow.  A few Council resolutions have begun demanding their participation in every level of negotiations, but women peace envoys are still largely absent on the ground.  Indeed, she said, after 18 years of voting on the same women, peace and security resolution, “the time is now” for a real, irrevocable materialization of this agenda.

Namibia’s representative expressed concern that global implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) is occurring at a “snail’s pace”.  Encouraging States to put in place national action plans for the resolution’s implementation, he said access to quality, conflict-sensitive education for women and girls is essential to ensure their participation in peacebuilding processes.  For its part, Namibia has deployed numerous female peacekeepers, and now stands only two short of meeting the 15 per cent target called for in resolution 1325 (2000).  In addition, he said, Namibia is a founding member of the women, peace and security focal point network that enables closer coordination among countries on best practices to operationalize the agenda.

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, was among speakers warning against boosting participation for the sake of mere numbers.  “Participation is not about counting heads, but about having influence,” she stressed.  Describing the recently concluded peace agreement in Colombia — where women made up a substantial percentage of official negotiators — as a model of inclusion, she called for ownership and accountability at the highest levels of the United Nations leadership and among Member States.  The gender dimension must be considered throughout strategic planning processes in conflict situations, permeating all sectors, while budgets for peacekeeping and political missions must be made gender-responsive, she said.

Several speakers, while voicing agreement about the importance of women’s inclusion in peacekeeping and negotiations, nevertheless raised concerns about the Council’s consideration of broad, thematic topics that fall outside the scope of its mandate.  The Russian Federation’s delegate, for one, said that when taking up resolution 1325 (2000) Council members should focus specifically on matters related to establishing and maintaining international peace and security.  Indeed, it is harmful to try to utilize the women, peace and security agenda to promote such issues as human rights or gender, which are traditionally taken up by other United Nations bodies.  Doing so will ultimately lead to an imbalance and hinder the agenda’s implementation, he warned.

Also speaking today were Government Ministers or representatives of Netherlands, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Côte d’Ivoire (also on behalf of Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia), China, Kuwait, Russian Federation, United States, France, Poland, Bolivia, Germany, Slovenia, Ukraine, Japan, India, Colombia, Slovakia, Turkey (also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia), Pakistan, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Albania, Argentina, Guatemala, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Hungary, Jordan, Estonia (also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania), United Arab Emirates, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Mexico,  Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Iran, Israel, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ghana (also on behalf of the group of friends of the African Women Leaders Network), Holy See, Chile, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security), Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Ireland, Lichtenstein, Paraguay, Portugal, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Belarus, Indonesia, Brazil, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Georgia, Montenegro, Qatar, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Liberia, Morocco, Thailand, Rwanda, Djibouti, Armenia, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Romania, Malta, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Spain, Afghanistan, South Africa and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The Permanent Observers of the Holy See and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie also participated.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 8:25 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the number of countries embroiled in violent conflict around the world is higher now than at any time in the last three decades.  The number of people suffering from forced displacement is now higher than ever before, he added, noting that those challenges are being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.  “Human rights are relegated to the second level,” he said.  Against that backdrop, however, partners around the world should not give up hope since there are many examples of progress also taking hold, he emphasized.  For example, women’s organizations are keeping dialogue alive in Guinea-Bissau, rebuilding communities in Colombia and working to halt inter-communal tensions in the Central African Republic and Mali, he noted.  In Syria and Yemen, women have negotiated local ceasefires and mediated the creation of civilian safe zones.  Within the United Nations, meanwhile, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is channelling resources to women’s organizations in need of them, he said, adding that the Organization is placing the women, peace and security agenda at the heart of its partnerships with regional organizations.

He went on to recall that last month, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two champions of women, Denis Mukwege, a doctor working to treat victims of sexual violence, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist.  However, “the facts on the ground show that we still have far to go”, he noted.  The participation of women in formal peace processes remains extremely limited and conflicts continue to have a devastating impact on women and girls around the globe.  The United Nations documented more than 800 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 2017 — a 56 per cent increase over 2016.  Women human rights defenders, political leaders, journalists and activists are targeted at alarming rates, he said.  Noting that recent data once again reveal the strong link between gender equality and peace, he emphasized:  “There is a significant gap between what we say in this chamber and what we do outside.”  For example, Member States extol the positive influence of women peacekeepers but provide little space for their participation, he said, adding that they rely heavily on women’s organizations but do not adequately fund them.

Outlining priority actions to address that gap in the coming year, he noted that gender parity in United Nations peace operations has stagnated, warning:  “Without decisive action, we will go backwards as some missions are downsized.”  Spotlighting his formation of a working group to put emergency measures in place to address that challenge, he expressed his continuing commitment to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse within the United Nations — one of his very first initiatives after taking office.  He said that, among other things, he will continue to work on that issue with the Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Victim’s Rights Advocate and Member States.  Mediation will be another critical priority, he said, adding that meaningful female participation in peace processes is directly linked to more sustainable peace.

He went on to state that members of his High-level Advisory Board on Mediation — which is itself gender-balanced — are in New York this week to work with representatives of women’s mediation networks.  A gendered approach to peace and security means supporting peacebuilding at the local level — even during conflict, he said.  Another important element is to finance the women, peace and security agenda, he pointed out, spotlighting his creation of a high-level task force in that regard.  “I will hold United Nations entities accountable to their commitments to track spending on women, peace and security, with a target of reaching or exceeding 15 per cent by 2020,” he pledged.  Vowing also to include gender analysis in his reports to the Security Council, whenever relevant, in order to inform members’ decisions, he said that his 2019 report on women, peace and security will assess the implementation of relevant recommendations from the three peace and security reviews undertaken in 2015.  Those findings and recommendations will form the basis for increased efforts leading up to 2020, he said, encouraging Member States to undertake their own reviews.


PHUMZILE MLAMBO NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), presented the report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security (document S/2018/900).  “This report is a loud alarm bell on systemic failures to bring women into peacemaking,” she declared.  “Women cannot be excluded from the peace process simply because they do not go into battle.”  Reporting on her recent visit to South Sudan, she conveyed the desires of the women she met, saying they long for peace and to resume their lives after nearly five years of suffering in a civil war they are not responsible for waging.  Despite the latest agreement’s requirement of 35 per cent women’s participation in peace processes, there is only 1 woman among the 10 nominations for the first national institution to implement the accord.  The report details how this is unfortunately not the exception but the rule in peace processes around the world, she noted.  “Our continued tolerance for the limited recognition of women’s expertise and lived experience is shameful,” she emphasized.

The report also shows that women constitute only 2 per cent of mediators, 8 per cent of negotiators and 5 per cent of witnesses and signatories to major peace processes between 1990 and 2017, she continued.  In addition, only 3 out of 11 agreements signed in 2017 contain provisions on gender equality.  This worrisome trend continues in current peacemaking efforts in Yemen, Mali, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, with mediation efforts in the latter country excluding women altogether, she noted.  At the same time, Security Council decisions containing language on women, peace and security in relation to country-specific or regional situations increased from 50 to 75 per cent, she said, adding that the number of women leaders and civil society representatives who briefed the Council also increased significantly.  It is crucial to use all available diplomatic channels and political influence to ensure that such activity in New York makes a difference on the ground, she stressed.

Noting the low representation of women in elections, the continued lack of access to primary school for girls, the increase in sexual violence as well as in child-marriage and maternal mortality rates in conflict situations, she emphasized the need for strong investments in women to reverse the situation and the lack of funds provided for real empowerment of women in many development sectors.  Looking forward to the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in that context, she said:  “It is time for the United Nations to have a […] conversation about supporting, brokering and paying for peace negotiations that exclude women.”  In addition, she welcomed the Peacebuilding Fund’s steadily growing support for projects advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, calling upon it to find ways to make the 15 per cent minimum target for such purposes a reality across all relevant entities and other peace and security funds.

Finally, she called for much more action to protect women activists, peacebuilders and human rights defenders in conflict-affected countries.  In that context, she applauded the Council on the historic participation of a Palestinian representing civil society in its discussions, and the Nobel Committee’s recognition of Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad.  Paying tribute to the many courageous women she has met in her travels, she noted, however, that in 2017, half of the women honoured in the annual tribute of the Association for Women in Development were murdered in conflict-affected countries, stressing that the true toll among all women activists is impossible to measure.  Yet progress is undeniable, even if it can be maddeningly slow and is often met with backlash, she said.  “If women are supported to organize effectively, it is also unstoppable.”

RANDA SINIORA, General Director, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.  Noting that Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the resulting humanitarian crisis exacerbate existing gender inequalities, she said Palestinian women face daily attacks, threats, intimidation, discrimination and restrictions on their movement by the Israeli military.  Night raids, destruction of property and violence at checkpoints are also routinely committed by occupying forces.  Palestinian women lose their homes and cannot reunite with their families due to restrictions or denial of residency permits, she said, adding that they look on as their husbands and children are detained, attacked or killed in front of them.  The occupation reinforces the patriarchal structures of Palestinian society, she said, pointing out that they must earn a living on top of their responsibilities to care for the young, sick or injured, which often isolates them from their communities and from public life.

She went on to state that, in efforts to protect their families from violence or arrest, women often become prison guards to their own children.  Noting that political violence in the public sphere leads to spikes in violence in the private sphere, she emphasized that domestic violence is shockingly high, with femicide on the increase.  Women are also starved of resources with which to respond to abuses, she said, pointing out that the fragile conditions created by the occupation mean that Palestinian women lack access to justice.  Recent cuts in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have had a disproportionate effect on the lives of Palestinian women, especially in terms of health and education, she said, stressing that the destruction of infrastructure has also had a devastating impact on the lives of women and girls by cutting off their access to food, water, sanitation, electricity and life-saving medical care.  Economic deprivation and unemployment have also made Palestinian women more vulnerable to violence, she added.


MARGOT WALLSTROM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, described the peace agreement in Colombia as a model of inclusion, with women representing the key to its success.  “Participation is not about counting heads but about having influence,” she emphasized, citing the role women play as agents of change in the Sahel.  In terms of the women, peace and security agenda, she called for ownership and accountability at the highest levels of the United Nations leadership and among Member States.  Moreover, the gender dimension must be considered throughout strategic planning processes in conflict situations, permeating all sectors.  Gender disaggregated data in reporting from the field is also necessary, she said, emphasizing that budgets for peacekeeping and political missions must be gender-responsive.  Noting that women are usually invited to the negotiating table when formal talks are already convened, she called for a broad range of perspectives in earlier phases of negotiations.  “The inclusion of women mediators from all around the world will change the dynamics of peace processes,” she stressed.

YOKA BRANDT, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, associated herself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security.  She said that when women are involved, there is a better chance for lasting peace, going on to ask why women are still excluded from peace processes if the rationale is so clear.  Why do women only make up 8 per cent of negotiators, a proportion that has hardly moved in recent years?  “We see the rationale, but we do not act upon it, because we have not changed who we see as leaders and whose experience and judgement we value most,” she said.  Calling for women’s inclusion in decision-making processes, she cited several examples from the Security Council’s work, including relevant provisions in the mandates of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a significant increase in the number of civil society representatives briefing the Council and, on 8 March, the first Council meeting in which two thirds of representatives around the table were women.  While noting that the Council is also tackling impunity for sexual violence through sanctions, including a stand-alone criterion in the South Sudan sanctions regime, she emphasized the role that the Council can play in combating violence against women who contribute to peace processes, as well as the need to appoint female mediators and include women at the negotiating table in places like Syria and Yemen.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said woman’s empowerment is not just a moral issue, but also an economic one, since countries that enable half of their populations to participate fully will have a much greater chance of thriving.  Women’s participation is also an integral part of successful conflict prevention, particularly as conflicts around the globe become more complex.  Women’s mediation networks are especially valuable in that regard, she added.  In addition to community-level efforts, however, systemic and structural challenges must be addressed, she stressed, citing her country’s programmes targeting violence against women.  The United Kingdom has set a goal of 15 per cent women staff in the armed forces and supports the “Leave no girl behind” campaign to promote girls’ education around the world, she said.  With the approach of 2020, the United Kingdom calls for heightened ambitions in all such areas and the conversion of policy into concrete action, she added.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan), affirming the need for better application of the women, peace and security agenda as an important conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution tool, emphasized the need to bridge the gap between word and deed.  For that purpose, the Secretary-General’s efforts to place gender at the centre of peacemaking and ensure gender parity must receive strong support, and all forms of development cooperation must address women’s progress.   True progress requires total social transformation involving the State, communities, judiciary and educational systems, he said, welcoming in that context the European Union’s announced intention to launch an educational programme for Afghan women in higher-education institutions in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  He also encouraged donor countries to increase the number of scholarships for women and girls from conflict-affected countries.  Kazakhstan, he said, integrates all pillars of the 1325 agenda into national legislation, promotes women’s participation at all levels and employs gender-equality training in the military, while deploying women in United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Regional efforts are also critical, he said, describing his country’s cooperation on gender equality in Afghanistan and pledging its unfailing support for the entire women’s empowerment agenda.

KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking also on behalf of Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia, affirmed that the participation of women in peace processes is essential.  Hailing the engagement of the African Union citing the priority implementation of national action plans, he said the international community’s support is therefore critical.  Since the quest for peace and security in Africa cannot be separated from efforts to end violence against women, it is critical to enforce a zero-tolerance policy against abuse by peacekeepers and increase the numbers of women involved in peacekeeping, he said, emphasizing that he looks forward to more robust cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in tackling all remaining challenges to the empowerment of women in peace and security and development.

MA ZHAOXU (China), affirming that his country’s nearly 700 million women play an increasingly important role in all sectors, paid tribute to the dedication of the many Chinese women in United Nations peacekeeping missions.  A favourable international environment is needed to assist women’s further participation in peacemaking, provide solid guarantees of their safety, he said.  Assistance in post-conflict reconstruction must ensure that all citizens benefit from development, he said, emphasizing the need to ensure synergy among all United Nations agencies in those efforts.  Cooperation with regional organizations must also be strengthened, he added.  Noting his country’s support for UN-Women’s programmes aimed at increasing women’s representation in peacekeeping, he pledged China’s continuing dedication in helping to build a better world for women, and in doing so, creating a better world for all.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said Member States are currently in the process of making resolution 1325 (2000) a reality.  Emphasizing a need to ensure that such work is not merely symbolic, he underlined the crucial role to be played by women mediators and negotiators in conflict and post-conflict situations.  Such work must begin with fully realizing the economic, political and social rights of women, he said, noting that continued violence, poverty, food insecurity and women’s low participation in public life remain major barriers.  The participation of women in peace processes improves their outcome, leading to more stable communities that are less likely to revert into conflict.  Citing the example of Colombia — where women have taken up their role at the highest levels of negotiations — he also welcomed the fact that women are engaging in peace consultations in Yemen and elsewhere.  The United Nations should assist troop- and police-contributing countries in providing relevant training to their peacekeepers, while also helping them build their national capacity in that crucial area.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), noting that his country — along with Sweden — co-chairs the Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, associated himself with the statement delivered by Sweden’s Foreign Minister.  While strides have been made in pushing forward this agenda, barriers and challenges still persist.  “Women provide a focus on the future and on unity, which are indispensable to peace,” he said, adding that they are also crucial to preventing violence and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Calling for the financing and participation of women’s organizations when they are called upon to do so by the Council — as well as the integration of a gender perspective in the peacekeeping mandates decided by the 15-member organ — he outlined Peruvian women’s participation in the country’s history and current national efforts to enhance women’s engagement in political and public life.

GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) said the Secretary-General’s report reveals an objective state of affairs related to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  However, when considering the issue, the Council should focus specifically on matters related to establishing and maintaining international peace and security.  Indeed, it is harmful to try to utilize the women, peace and security agenda to promote such issues as human rights or gender, which are traditionally taken up by other bodies including the Human Rights Council and the Committee on the Status of Women.  Warning that doing so will ultimately lead to an imbalance and hinder the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), he expressed support for the active participation of women in both peace negotiations and political processes.  Also voicing support for a “sweeping review” of the actions taken to implement the women, peace and security agenda, he encouraged strict adherence to the proper division of labour between United Nations offices, divisions and bodies.  In addition, national efforts should be determined by needs on the ground and not driven to “increase numbers” due to bureaucratic structures.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) said October marks the anniversary of the his country’s adoption of its national Women, Peace and Security Act, anchored in the national security strategy and in line with its longstanding efforts to promote both peace and women’s rights.  Outlining several examples, he said more must be done at the international level to integrate the tenets of the women, peace and security agenda across the United Nations system.  Indeed, only when this agenda is presented as a priority task — as in the case of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) — is it treated with sufficient importance.  “It’s up to leadership to drive the culture change and deliver the results we want to see,” he said.  Urging Member States to counter efforts to limit space for civil society leaders, he said the United States has supported oversight and monitoring in Iraq and Afghanistan while providing support to countries developing relevant national action plans.  Underlining the importance of economic empowerment, he highlighted the importance of ensuring girls’ access to education and recalled his country’s 2017 establishment of a women entrepreneurs financing initiative and its provision of some $50 million to date.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), affirming that the 1325 agenda is at the core of French priorities, said his country is actively discussing the further use of targeted sanctions to counter sexual violence.  The twentieth anniversary of the resolution presents an opportunity to intensify progress in women’s empowerment and protection that must not be missed.  Praising the Secretary-General’s efforts in this regard, he said it was critical, however, that these efforts be further intensified in all United Nations forums, including the Security Council.  All resolutions must address women’s protection and empowerment.  National and regional processes must become more robust and more prominence must be given to best practices.  France will continue to prioritize the issue in all international forums, as it is domestically.  On the ground, in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, related initiatives are providing women in conflict situations with services and training.  All stakeholders in conflict situations must take full ownership of women’s empowerment and protection, while working together with multilateral partners.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said women’s involvement in peace processes is an absolute necessity for tackling the scourge of sexual violence as a tactic of war.  Women face a unique set of challenges related to peacebuilding and security and their concerns are rarely on the agenda of peace talks.  “A major challenge is that women are often not perceived to have the skills, knowledge or social status needed to bring about change in post-conflict environments,” she said.  Calling for a mind shift by negotiators and mediators in this regard, she emphasized that women’s participation is not just about numbers, but about leadership.  One factor that can help women to engage more actively is their economic empowerment, she said, describing an entrepreneurship project funded by Poland in the State of Palestine, which targets women in the West Bank by providing sustainable irrigation systems.

VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, saying that women’s marginalization and violence against them stems from patriarchy and the capitalist system.  As such, States must play a primary role in bringing about societal change to address the problem.  In promoting women’s participation in peace processes, each situation features particular challenges and lessons learned should be disseminated to determine what has worked.  Women’s participation increases when they are allowed the freedom and the tools that enable them to lead, she said, pointing at several national examples.  In Bolivia, change stemmed from getting women in leadership positions in transitional bodies, amending the Constitution and targeting the bulwarks of a patriarchal system.  Participation of women in legislative bodies then increased to more than 50 per cent.  In addition, 45 per cent of land is now under the ownership of women.  Pledging Bolivia’s continued commitment to the 1325 agenda, she called on the international community to work together with the Secretary-General to make even greater progress in the future.

MICHELLE MÜNTEFERING, Minister of State for Germany, associated herself with the European Union, Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the group of friends of the African Women Leaders Network.  The United Nations — as a central, rules-based, multilateral regulatory framework created more than seven decades ago — cannot afford to talk about women, peace and security in the twenty-first century “without women sitting at the table as equal partners”, she said, emphasizing that they must be actors and shapers of peace and security policy — not just recipients of political decisions.  Indeed, while there have been “small steps” towards progress since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), it remains critical to continue to address the topic, especially in view of the crises and conflicts raging across the globe.  Outlining several national priorities in that arena, she said Germany will take up resolution 1325 (2000) as a major part of its Council membership from 2019-2020.  It will also continue to lend full support to the important efforts of the United Nations to prevent and eliminate conflict-related sexual violence and work to achieve tangible progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) by its twentieth anniversary in 2020, she said.

SIMONA LESKOVAR, State Secretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, associating herself with the European Union, said women’s voices in Parliament, Government, business and civil society lend credibility and sustainability to measures that address security concerns at all levels.  Echoing calls for better data and monitoring of trends, she said obstacles to women’s political and economic participation contribute to prolonged insecurity and threaten solutions for sustainable peace.  Also underlining the active role for men in promoting the women, peace and security agenda, she went on to outline Slovenia’s national efforts which include the imminent adoption of a second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2018-2020).  Among its thematic priorities are the integration of a gender perspective; increasing women’s participation; the protection of women and girls and ending sexual and gender-based violence in conflict; education and training around those issues; and accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.  The country is also working on a new Directive for the Slovenian Armed Forces on the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000).

IRYNA HERASHCHENKO, First Deputy Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine, associating herself with the statement to be given by the European Union, and emphasizing that 2018 is the fifth year of the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against her country, said the Government is actively implementing resolution 1325 (2000) and guaranteeing the rights of women in all public spheres.  Efforts are being made to expand women’s role in peacemaking and to protect women and children affected by armed conflict.  Noting that only 12 per cent of Ukraine’s parliamentarians are women, she said the Government is considering gender quotas which, at the local level, have been working well.  Work is also ongoing on national strategy for gender equality in defence and security, she said, noting the recent death of a 19-year-old female soldier, and in February, a nurse in her 20s was killed when her clearly marked medical vehicle was hit by a Russian anti-tank missile.  She went on to say that her main focus, as a representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group, is the release of hostages, including women prisoners, a concern shared by Russian women.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that, with the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) approaching, all actors in the international community must work more vigorously to fully implement its normative framework.  He drew attention to Japan’s support for a UN-Women project in Kenya that promotes women’s participation at the community level, as well as its contribution to strengthening the capacity and representation of female police officers in Afghanistan.  Japan is also among the top donors to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, he said, adding that his country would like to do more to promote the women, peace and security agenda among conflict-affected women in Sri Lanka.  He concluded by saying that women, peace and security will be a main topic for discussion at the World Assembly of Women, to be held in Tokyo from 23 to 24 March 2019.

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India), noting that violence against women and their exclusion from peace processes persist despite normative progress, said that addressing the challenges requires international cooperation.  The issue of women, peace and security must also be seen in the wider societal context, and more attention needs to be paid to the role of gender-responsive development in building peaceful and resilient societies.  At the same time, the Council must push for effective cooperation on countering terrorism and transboundary crime, which disproportionately affect women and girls.  In women’s empowerment, her country has made great progress, with more than 1.3 million directly elected women participating in implementing gender-responsive polices.  The country is boosting the number of females in peacekeeping missions, fulfilling its pledge to have 15 per cent women military observers in its national contingents, deploying the first-ever all-women formed police unit and working with UN-Women on training female officers from 26 countries.  The country, she affirmed, stands ready to work with partners towards further progress in women’s participation.

GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO (Colombia) said it is vital to ensure the participation and political empowerment of women in achieving the world’s aspirations for a peaceful and inclusive society.  He noted that Colombia, for the first time in its history, has a woman as Vice-President of the country, who is charged with supporting the President in promoting gender equality, and that 8 of its 16 ministries are headed by women.  Stressing that women’s equality in all sectors can only be achieved through setting examples and concrete action, he said only then will the international community succeed in eliminating violence and discrimination against women.  In delivering sustainable development in Colombia, he added, its new national development plan will include a new chapter on gender equality, which will pave the way for a gender observatory focusing on victims of conflict.

MICHAL MLYNAR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said women’s political and economic empowerment must be at the centre of peace and security efforts.  The focus must be on ensuring women’s economic rights and full participation in economic processes, as well as access to resources, employment and education.  The international community must do better in protecting women human rights defenders and women in politics, public life and society.  Only then will their political empowerment and equal participation in all spheres of life be ensured.  To succeed in that endeavour, the international community must ensure sufficient funding and resources of the peace and security agenda, especially in conflict countries.  He also stressed that security sector reform must be gender-sensitive in its planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

RAZIYE BILGE KOÇYIĞIT GRBA (Turkey), speaking also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, said women’s political and economic empowerment is crucial for the prevention of conflict and the stabilization of societies emerging from armed conflict.  She noted increased development of programmes to increase women’s participation, both as leaders in the military and law enforcement and as peace negotiators.  There is also a deeper awareness of the vulnerability of women in the midst of conflict.  She expressed deep concern, however, that sexual violence has become routine in war and armed conflict.  Underscoring that sexual abuse and gender-based violence are linked to gender inequality, poverty, exclusion and discrimination, she said it is imperative to address those root causes of conflict.  She stressed the importance of more gender advisers in United Nations peacekeeping operations, more women in leadership positions in negotiations and more women engaged in the implementation of peace agreements.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) called Council resolution 1325 (2000) “a watershed moment that rightfully brought women’s issues to the centre of the global conflict prevention debate, and in the larger context, of international peace and security”.  While there has been progress, patriarchal cultures, structural inequalities and discriminatory power structures continue to inhibit efforts for inclusive peace, women’s rights and conflict prevention.  Calling on the Council to play its primary role of maintaining peace and security by focusing on root causes of conflicts, she also said the international community must ensure equal attention to the four pillars of the women, peace and security agenda.  National human rights institutions must also be strengthened.  Noting the special skills of women in mediation, she said they should head more missions, with gender perspectives fully integrated into the peacebuilding paradigm.

MARI SKÅRE (Norway), speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said this year’s Nobel laureates — Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad — not only exposed human suffering that tears people apart and undermines peace, but also demonstrated how to respond.  Emphasizing that it is decidedly harder to ignore women in peace and security efforts, she underscored the work being carried out by, among others, local women’s groups and civil society in South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Colombia, Syria and Libya.  Going forward, she called for more women in leadership positions in the United Nations and elsewhere, more conflict analysis with a gender perspective and greater gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations, including gender adviser positions in all operational headquarters.  “Men must champion this cause as eagerly as women,” she added.

BESIANA KADARE (Albania), associating herself with the European Union, cited clear evidence that women’s meaningful participation contributes to the success of peace talks, accelerates economic recovery, improves humanitarian assistance, helps counter violent extremism and prevents human rights violations.  Member States have gradually integrated the principles enshrined in resolution 1325 (2000) into their national legal frameworks; however, a gap still exists between achievements on paper and reality on the ground.  Despite international commitment, for example, the meaningful inclusion of women in preventing conflicts and in negotiating peace processes remains negligible.  From 1990 to 2017, only 2 per cent of mediators in formal peace processes were women.  “We need to strengthen our resolve and increase the cooperation between us — Member States — the United Nations and civil society” to effect change on the ground, she stressed.  In that regard, she said Albania is an active member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and it approved a national action plan for resolution 1325 (2000).

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said education is needed to ensure the full empowerment of females and to boost their participation in decision-making processes at all levels.  In protecting education and guaranteeing access to it during conflict, the international community will also protect women and girls from risk.  Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has begun work to ensure the inclusion of a gender perspective in its national action plan — an example of a concrete measure that can be taken for the inclusion of women in decision-making process.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said it is impossible to realize lasting peace without achieving the safety and security of women and girls.  His country took very seriously the recent discussion on abuses to women in conflict, including murder, systemic rape and enforced slavery, which represent flagrant violations of human rights.  He also stressed the importance of women in leadership roles, urging the international community to increase their participation at all levels of decision-making.  In addition, it is important to tackle issues of increasing women’s participation in the maintenance of sustainable peace.  There is also a need for women to play a greater role in global issues like migration, climate change and conflict prevention.

ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that his country has launched the second cycle of its national plan for implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and has already reached significant milestones.  Women, for example, meaningfully participated in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which ensured women’s positions in the ensuing governmental mechanisms.  In addition, women displaced by the Marawi siege were actively involved in projects for shelter and community resilience, and an all-female unit of the armed forces focuses on social reconciliation to curb violent extremism.  Carrying out, in addition, a regional action plan for women’s empowerment and protection, the Government also mainstreamed the efforts throughout its agencies.  His country will continue its efforts to realize what he called the transformational potential of women’s equality and meaningful participation in all spheres.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea), noting his country’s “special moral obligation and political will”, pointed to its Action with Women and Peace initiative to increase funding and policy focus on protecting women and girls during and after armed conflicts, and protecting them in post-conflict and peacebuilding processes.  With women still amongst the most vulnerable groups in conflicts, efforts must be redoubled to promote their leadership in all aspects of peace and security, given they represented only 2 per cent of mediators and 8 per cent of negotiators from 1990 to 2017.  His Government has exceeded its 15 per cent goal for female staff officers and military observers in United Nations peacekeeping missions.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has its first-ever female Minister, and women make up 60.9 per cent of 650 newly-recruited diplomats.  However, the role and visibility of civil society in advancing the women, peace and security agenda must be strengthened, with more resources and attention directed towards empowering women in local communities.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) expressed strong support for the full inclusion, active and meaningful participation of women and girls at all stages and levels of peace processes.  It is also vital to empower female survivors of conflict and violence, through survivor-focused community-led initiatives.  Stressing that women’s increased participation is key to best assisting females affected by conflict, her country seeks to continuously increase the number of female military experts and police officers deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions.  She also called for more women to plan and carry out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) described her country’s plan of action to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000), saying it aims to strengthen women’s participation in the security and military sectors as well as peacekeeping.  The plan also envisions greater women’s participation in combatting extremism and terrorism, plus the provision of humanitarian and psychosocial services and the creation of a culture that supports gender parity.  A project to train women to participate in mediation and peace negotiations is being prepared.  She emphasized that in the Middle East, women and girls have been among the victims of displacement and sexual violence.  Palestinian women in particular face difficulties in the occupied Palestinian territories where they are victims of punitive policies by Israel.  She concluded by stressing the importance of mobilizing efforts to address the root causes of conflict and to reinforce participation of women and civil society.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), also speaking on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania, emphasized the need for the full, effective participation of women at all levels of conflict prevention and resolution, as well as peacebuilding.  Early warning signs of human rights violations, often towards women and girls, must be given due consideration when monitoring conflicts.  Sexual and gender-based violence is a principal obstacle to inclusive and durable peace.  Moreover, considering the link between the international arms trade and gender-based violence, it is crucial to take meaningful steps, including effective investigation and prosecution, to terminate impunity.  Sustainable peace is impossible without the meaningful participation of women as leaders, partners and agents of change, as well as beneficiaries.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said implementation of the women, peace and security agenda remains a challenge due to threats ranging from the rise in terrorism and extremism to the targeting of women and girls in conflict zones.  However, the disappointingly low number of women in peacebuilding, where they make up only 2 per cent of mediators, 5 per cent of witnesses and signatories and 8 per cent of negotiators in formal peace processes, is unacceptable.  Stressing that the international community must commit to improving these numbers, she said financial contributions should demand that women’s participation in peace processes reach 50 per cent.  She noted that female peacekeepers act as role models in local communities, inspiring women and girls to push for their rights and participate in peace processes.

JOSÉ SINGER (Dominican Republic) said gender inequality is an injustice that raises tension and conflict and that undermines the foundations of peace.  While the women, peace and security agenda has acquired significant normative strength since 2000, there remain serious problems that hinder its full implementation.  Women are not just victims, but also agents of change and their participation is crucial.  He noted that an increase of women on the benches of international criminal tribunals was followed by an increase in the number of indictments for sexual violence as a war crime.  The Colombian peace agreement, the first of its kind to include gender as a core pillar, should inspire other peace processes.  He went on to call for greater efforts to address outstanding structural barriers and gaps, including greater participation of civil society in the work of the Security Council, which the Dominican Republic will join in 2019 as a non-permanent member.

LUIS BERMUDEZ (Uruguay), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that by strengthening their rights, females can reduce their vulnerability.  He drew attention to his Government’s gender equality strategy and underscored the key role of education, which equips women and girls with the means to overcome discrimination while empowering them to be “champions of peace”.  He expressed alarm at attacks on schools and universities, many of which targeted women and girls, and called for more Member States to sign up to the Safe Schools Declaration.  He noted that Uruguay has a higher than average deployment of women in United Nations peacekeeping operations, adding that it is aiming to increase that number further.  Cooperation between troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat is essential, he said, adding that his Government will, in December, convene with the United Kingdom a preparatory meeting for a Defence Ministers’ conference on peacekeeping in 2019 that will focus on women, peace and security as well as specific training for female peacekeepers.

ANTONIETA SOCORRO JAQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) deplored the low participation of women in peace operations and called on Member States to increase it.  Mexico has made great strides, deploying eight women from its armed forces in peacekeeping missions in Colombia, Western Sahara and Mali, corresponding to the United Nations 15 per cent minimum required proportion.  As part of the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network, Mexico recognizes the importance of this cross-regional forum for sharing experiences and good practices.  The women, peace and security agenda and the 2030 Agenda are “two sides of the same coin”, she said, as addressing the root causes of conflict and supporting peace means understanding that women need economic autonomy and the full enjoyment of their human rights.  This implies sufficient economic resources, opportunities for work, eliminating the feminization of poverty and the freedom to make decisions in their communities.  Without political participation, women will never reach their considerable potential.  Achieving gender equality in the public sphere is a priority for Mexico, she said, citing improvements in Mexico’s new legislature.  Women will now make up 48.8 per cent of the Chamber of Deputies and 49.2 per cent of the Senate, representing the fourth largest proportion of women in the world.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), associating himself with statements to be delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security, noted that local grassroots organizations play a key role in advancing the women, peace and security agenda.  His country has pledged €1 million to support the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which helps build partnerships between the United Nations, Member States and civil society to support women’s organizations in building peace and providing humanitarian responses.  Also convinced that the absence of violence is a prerequisite for peaceful societies, Austria has scaled up its engagement against female genital mutilation.  Acknowledging the crucial link between human rights and conflict prevention, he called on the Council to recognize the importance of the work of the women human rights defenders for implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

DOMINIQUE MICHEL FAVRE (Switzerland) said women must be involved in political processes from an early stage and on all levels.  Outlining Switzerland’s efforts to support women’s participation in local decision-making in Benin and Bangladesh, he said women’s economic empowerment is a precondition for their political participation.  In Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Switzerland supports communities and women to secure land rights, and in the Great Lakes region of Africa it is helping to improve the economic prospects of victims of sexual- and gender-based violence.  Also, underling the crucial role to be played by boys and men, he warned against focusing exclusively on women.  “Shedding light on the privileges and vulnerabilities of men can be a game-changer.”

MARIANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), highlighting the need for effective peacekeeping operations in conflict situations, said this can be partly achieved by raising the numbers of female peacekeepers.  Female peacekeepers can access populations and environments that are closed to men, improving intelligence regarding potential security risks.  Not only can they improve dispute resolution and are less likely than their male counterparts to use excessive force, but they can build trust with communities and are more receptive to civilians, advancing stability and the rule of law.  Turning to sexual violence in conflicts, she noted that this is still an effective weapon of war, although the international community has taken steps to put an end to impunity for sexual and gender-based crimes at the global level.  The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, for example, expressly lists various forms of sexual and gender-based violence as underlying acts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the major threats to the security of women in his region are foreign occupation, military invasion and terrorism.  In Palestine, foreign occupation is the most severe threat, particularly in Gaza, where women and children are the main victims of an inhumane and illegal blockade as well as Israel’s periodic bombing and shelling.  Foreign invasion has had a similar impact on women in Syria and other countries in the region, with air strikes on residential areas, hospitals, schools and even wedding ceremonies mostly affecting women’s lives.  If the Council is serious about addressing threats to the security of women in the Middle East, it should compel Israel to end the occupation of Palestine, remove the Gaza blockade and, ultimately, stop Israeli crimes and brutalities against women and girls.  He added that, as a victim of aggression, foreign military invasion and terrorism, Iran attaches great importance to the role that women can play in building a secure, stable and prosperous society.  “The outstanding role of women in Iran is incontestable,” he said, adding that Iranian women’s achievements have come despite hostile United States policies and illegal sanctions that make no distinction between men and women.

EINAT SHLEIN (Israel) said one of the core elements of any successful policy making process, especially in the areas of peace and security, are cooperation, building partnerships, sharing experiences and creating opportunities, which are among the many negotiating strengths associated with women.  Adding that inclusiveness serves goals far beyond equal opportunities, she said it creates a significant new value.  The international community must amplify women’s voices and incorporate this added value.  Scientific research presents a strong correlation between inclusiveness and the sustainability of peace agreements.  Noting that resolution 1325 (2000) calls for greater representation of women in national decision-making, especially in prevention and resolution of conflict, she said their voices are still excluded from most peace negotiation tables.  The global community can no longer afford to exclude the talents and insights of half the population in the pursuit of peace.

MARA MARINAKI, Principal Adviser for Gender and the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of the European External Action Service of the European Union, emphasized efforts to ensure women and girls in conflict-affected, post-conflict and fragile situations can equally and equitably participate in all political, economic, security and social facets of their societies.  Noting the Union’s work promoting female empowerment in Afghanistan, Syria and Mali, she pointed to the launch of the Gaziantep Women Platform, a network involved in the peace process in Geneva.  The bloc has also prioritized action against sexual- and gender-based violence in conflict, including partnering with the United Nations in the Spotlight Initiative.  Turning to the economy, she cited another partnership with UN-Women and the International Labour Organization (ILO), WE EMPOWER, to create an enabling environment engaging the corporate sector and public policy.  The Union is also committed to a zero-tolerance policy on misconduct and abuse through revised generic standards of behaviour applicable to both civilian missions and military operations.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union, said the women, peace and security agenda will be a priority for his nation during its turn as a non-permanent Security Council member.  He agreed with the Secretary‑General about the need for women’s active participation in conflict prevention and resolution, including more females in peace negotiations.  He said the Council should hear from women’s organizations when discussing peacekeeping mandates and meet women’s organizations during country visits.  He also underscored the need for more women in peacekeeping operations and for gender equality advisers to be part of current peacekeeping mandates.

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that meaningful participation of more women in public affairs requires sufficient funding and political will to push against stereotypes and other negative social norms.  Member States must ensure thorough implementation of the agenda and hold the United Nations accountable to include it in all its activities.  Her country’s national plan, sets out concrete steps to increase women’s participation in politics, improve work/life balance and end discrimination.  She encouraged all countries that had not yet done so to adopt such plans.  Her country, she added, promoted inclusive decision-making in its presidency of the Economic and Social Council and implements projects around the world for the economic empowerment of women.  She pledged its continued efforts in empowering women.

BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said women are at the forefront of the “revolution of tenderness” that the world urgently needs.  They offer an important contribution to dialogue with their capacity to listen and to open themselves generously to others and are intimately bound to the mystery of life.  Dialogue and political engagement constitute a journey that men and women must undertake together.  Women and girls can also become an easy target for enemy soldiers trying to humiliate and inflict pain on opponents, he noted, condemning the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.  Expressing support for efforts to ensure that women benefit from assistance and acknowledging the risks women and children face in the context of humanitarian emergencies, he said the Holy See cannot accept as a fitting solution services that promote and provide abortion, such as those included in the Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health.

MARTHA A. A. POBEE (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, expressed support for renewed efforts over the past year to include practical actions to improve the implementation of the women peace and security agenda.  She cited invaluable exchanges with women and communities in numerous countries in Africa, representing an innovation that will intensify efforts and bring to the fore the voices of women and girls silenced by conflict.  Reiterating the Group’s support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to increase female participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, including political missions in Africa, she called on Member States to support and complement these initiatives to prevent the stagnation or decrease of female participation.  She also noted the Network’s efforts towards increasing women’s participation at the local level, with national chapters in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ms. POBEE, speaking in her national capacity, said Ghana is addressing structural barriers impeding women’s political participation, economic empowerment and active role in decision making.  Women have been appointed to key positions in the Government, military and law enforcement, including the appointment of the first female Brigadier-General, a female Electoral Commissioner, Attorney General and chief justice, and of 21 women to the National Peace Council.  Ghana is among 23 African countries with a national action plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  In addition, the Women, Peace and Security Institute of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre has conducted election observation training for female staff and works on capacity building for selected eminent women in conflict analysis, mediation and negotiation.

NASLY ISABEL BERNAL PRADO (Chile), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, noted that 76 members of the international community to date have rolled out action plans to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  Adding that women, peace and security is one of the priority pillars of Chile’s foreign policy, she said her country is working to form public policies guaranteeing their participation in all aspects of the resolution.  Chile launched its second national plan of action to implement the resolution in 2015, underscoring education, training of staff and quantitative indicators.  Its third plan now aims to enhance the role of women in negotiations and will also include monitoring, assessment and accountability of the plan.  Among challenges it faces are how to increase numbers of women in peacekeeping and address the concept of gender advisers in peacekeeping operations.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said the Security Council should remain concerned about the lack of women’s participation in peace and security efforts.  Women remain under-represented or not represented at all in peace negotiations, he said, adding that gender-blind peace agreements risk exacerbating gender inequalities over time.  Member States must work together to recognize and address obstacles to women’s meaningful participation, whether they are cultural, structural or institutional in nature.  Women’s capacity to participate in peace and security efforts must be strengthened as well, he said, adding that Member States must also confront systems of violence and intimidation that deny full equality to women of all ages.  While the Council itself has yet to achieve gender balance, the Group of Friends welcomes Council members’ efforts to include women in its work on a more systematic basis, for example by encouraging briefers to mainstream gender analysis in their statements and by increasing the number of women civil society briefers outside the debate on women, peace and security.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said too many gaps remain in implementing the women, peace and security agenda.  “There is no quick fix.  It will not be enough to add a woman mediator here or a gender adviser there,” he said, emphasizing that discrimination exists in all countries.  Canada is examining how its national action plan on the agenda can better address violence and discrimination faced by its indigenous women and girls, he said, adding that its feminist foreign policy demands that the needs of women and girls be considered.  He also drew attention to Canada’s role in launching the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, aimed at increasing the participation of females in United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as its plan to appoint an ambassador for women, peace and security.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled its adoption in November 2017 of a joint statement on promoting women, peace and security, through which its member States encouraged the integration of the gender perspective in conflict prevention and called for women’s full participation in peace processes.  Emphasizing the challenges still being faced by women, he said Member States, United Nations entities, relevant international and regional organizations and other stakeholders must redouble their efforts to promote women’s empowerment and decision-making.  Within the United Nations system, ASEAN looks forward to more recruitment and promotion of women from developing countries.  He went on to underscore efforts by ASEAN member States to promote women’s leadership and economic empowerment, eliminate gender stereotyping and violence against women, and to protect and empower women in vulnerable situations.  He also noted the Association’s participation in UN-Women’s HeForShe campaign aimed at promoting a culture of respect for women and girls while mobilizing men and boys as advocates for gender equality.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said it is almost a cliché to say that women’s participation significantly increases the probability of lasting and sustainable peace, and shocking to see that reality is seldom respected globally.  Her country’s international development policy aims to strengthen the voices of women and girls at all levels and welcomes the increase of female and civil society briefers to the Council.  Noting peacekeeping operations and uniformed personnel are the most visible representation of the United Nations, she pointed to her country’s unbroken record of 60 years’ participation in peacekeeping missions.  As chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, she noted calls for women’s equal participation in politics must be equalled by calls for their equal participation in society and the economy.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said gender equality helps prevent conflict, yet the budget of the global women’s rights movement is less than the cost of two F-35 fighter aircraft at a time when global military spending is running at $1.6 trillion compared to $37.6 billion on health and $6.8 billion on education.  He expressed concern about the devastating trend of conflict-related sexual violence, not only against women and girls, but also against men and boys, which remains underreported owing to cultural taboos and fear of stigmatization.  “Only if we understand the underlying factors of this crime, irrespective of the victims’ gender, can we find comprehensive and sustainable solutions for all,” he said, calling on the Council to shed light on that problem, which can constitute a war crime, crime against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.  He went on to note that women remain unevenly represented in transitional justice and rule of law institutions.

ULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), affirming the importance of equality in the enjoyment of human rights, said such equality is guaranteed in his country’s Constitution.  His country’s national plan for equal opportunity includes a full range of services for women vulnerable to violence.  Economic opportunities for rural women are also prioritized, with committees for microfinance and agricultural finance headed by women. 

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, called upon Member States to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) in a more effective and efficient way.  Empowering women should be regarded as a fundamental part of any peacebuilding process.  Some examples of Portugal’s efforts include training on gender equality and violence against women and girls among officials in the justice, military and security sectors.  A coordinated global approach to promoting higher education in emergency situations can help to prepare a new generation of leaders who can rebuild their countries and societies in the aftermath of war.  In this connection, he pointed to the founding in 2017 of the Global Platform for Syrian Students, a non-profit organization.  He called on all Member States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, thus highlighting a need to protect safe access to education for women and girls in conflict situations.

SURENDRA THAPA (Nepal), affirming that women can play a crucial role as agents of change by offering valuable and innovative perspectives to peacemaking, recounted the experience of his country in integrating resolution 1325 (2000) into its own peace process, through a localized approach to implementing a national action plan in that regard.  Inclusion of 33 per cent women in local peace committees was required.  The success of the action plan, shared with other countries, has also led to a second plan that focused on gender violence.  In addition, mandatory inclusion of women in the political sphere since 2007 has directly contributed to fostering good governance and an inclusive society.  Nepal, he pledged, stands ready to share its experiences in women’s empowerment at all levels of peacemaking and post-conflict restructuring, to assist in the timely achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) echoed other speakers in describing it as insufficient that women merely sit at negotiating tables to satisfy a superficial gender balance component or to “check a box” as part of management reform.  “Women must be given the space to truly engage both at the peace table and beyond,” he stressed, noting that gender equality and women’s empowerment are priority areas for Sri Lanka.  The Government is currently working towards achieving gender equality through the enactment of gender-sensitive laws, the formulation of relevant policies and through action plans.  Noting that Sri Lanka was one of the first countries in Asia to grant universal adult enfranchisement — and that it instituted free health care as early as 1948 — he also recalled that the country’s protracted and brutal armed conflict left 24 per cent of its female population widowed.  Today, the Government’s priorities include enhancing women’s economic empowerment, eliminating violence against women and improving their engagement in public and political life, among other issues.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said women and girls suffer disproportionately and in the ugliest, most abhorrent way in conflict and war.  “In war, their gender becomes their misfortune and when the guns go silent they are the forgotten ones,” she said.  There can be no security, at least not a sustainable one, when it is achieved discounting the vital participation and inclusive engagement of women.  Stressing that progress has been terribly slow, she noted that only 2 per cent of mediators in formal peace processes from 1990 to 2017 were women.  A few Security Council resolutions have begun demanding the participation of women in every level of negotiations, but where are the women peace envoys today?, she asked.  After 18 years of voting on the women, peace and security resolution, the time is now for a real irrevocable materialization of this agenda.  Adding that women see gender equality as their last battle, he said all must fight together, shoulder to shoulder, as they try to remake a world where peace is possible.

IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus), citing escalating and increasingly complex global conflicts, said the international toolkit is clearly insufficient to address them.  Member States should consider the potential women could play in that regard, she stressed, noting that Belarus has always adhered to the principles of protection and non-discrimination.  It also plays a leading role in combating the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings — especially women and children — she said, adding that the country therefore has a high level of expertise to offer in that area and related spheres.  Noting that women peacekeepers number among the Belarussian troops deployed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), she went on to underline the important role to be played by mediators — especially women mediators — in the prevention of armed conflicts.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) noted:  “Women are half of the world.  Therefore, they also make up half of every solution.”  Given preventing conflict is better than curing it, his country considers women as drivers in sustaining peace and development, with female ministers making up one third of the national cabinet.  He cited research at the Wahid Institute showing 80.7 per cent of women support the right to freedom of religion and 80.8 per cent do not support radicalism, making their empowerment a determining factor in eliminating possible starting points of conflict.  However, with women only accounting for 3 per cent of peacekeepers on the ground, he called for that number to increase.  Indonesia’s peacekeeping corps numbers 72 women among its 3,500 personnel, and the country is committed to adding 40 more.

FREDERICO S. DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil), noting that 2018 marks the centenary of his country’s first female diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria José de Castro Rebello, said challenges remain in achieving gender equality.  A champion for women’s rights since the founding of the United Nations, Brazil recently integrated the women, peace and security agenda into South-South cooperation policies, supporting projects to assist victims of sexual- and gender-based violence in conflict-affected regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau and Haiti.  The national action plan’s two main objectives, mainstreaming and empowerment, aim at promoting women as agents of peace and protecting them from gender-based violence.  Milestones include integrating women into armed combat roles in 2017.  In 2018, his Government said political parties must allot at least 30 per cent of special campaign financing to support female candidates.  Women now hold 15 per cent of elected seats in the lower Congress, up from 10 per cent, and the female presence will be raised to 15 per cent in the military and 20 per cent in the police force.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) said that global implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) is occurring at a “snail’s pace”.  National action plans on the women, peace and security agenda ensure structured implementation, follow-up and evaluation of the resolution, he said, encouraging States that are implementing the resolution without such plans to reconsider.  Access to quality, conflict-sensitive education for women and girls is essential to ensure their participation in the peacebuilding process.  Namibia has so far deployed 13.3 per cent of its female peacekeeping members, with only two females remaining to be deployed to meet the target of 15 per cent as indicated in resolution 1325 (2000).  His country is a founding member of the women, peace and security focal point network that enables closer coordination among Members States on best practices, he said, calling it critical to the operationalization of the agenda.

NARJESS SAIDANE, Permanent Observer of the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, said that the heads of State and Government of the French-speaking world adopted, at their last meeting, a new strategy for the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights.  At the same meeting the organization signed onto a new instrument of cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  That cooperation prioritizes political dialogue, legal frameworks and countering discrimination to prevent violence against women.  Increasing the representation of women in peacekeeping contingents is also a priority of the organization.  Despite such initiatives in many parts of the international community, she emphasized, much remains to be done.  However, women do not need to be trained or empowered to contribute more to peacemaking.  It is only through dismantling social norms that devalue women that the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda can be accelerated in all its dimensions.

MOHAMED OMAR MOHAMED GAD (Egypt) said that women could not adequately participate in peacemaking unless they are empowered economically and their capacities reinforced.  In that light, he applauded the creation of women’s networks that are generated locally and spontaneously.  The international community should not direct them, but assist them in building capacity and obtaining coordination platforms.  His country is engaged in initiatives to support, sustain and finance such networks.  In other areas, he called for gender parity in United Nations activities and recognized the threats to women in conflict areas, particularly the plight of Palestinian women.  He also described predeployment training for his country’s peacekeeping contingents in relation to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation, for which the country has disseminated a guide in various languages.  He called on the international community to reaffirm its commitment to women’s economic empowerment in post-conflict situations, as they are the drivers of sustainable recovery.

LAZARUS AMAYO (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, said his country just completed a high-level peer review meeting on women, peace and security, where participants shared experiences on accountability in implementing the agenda.  An analysis of current national action plans adopted by States to date shows that 17 countries include an allocated budget for the resolution’s implementation; 22 include references to disarmament and provide specific actions to disarm society and control the illicit trade in small arms; and 39 national action plans explain their processes of monitoring and implementation.  Despite Kenya’s diverse cultural and social norms, the country takes a whole-of-society approach to the issue and engages stakeholders at the regional level by supporting the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, its Continental Results Framework and other relevant mechanisms.  Efforts have also focused on ensuring that Kenya’s national action plan, titled “To Involve Women is to Sustain Peace”, is fully aligned with regional standards.

CHRISTIAN FRÉDÉRIC BRAUN (Luxembourg) said the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020 will offer Member States a chance to take stock in their implementation of the resolution.  Citing numerous obstacles that currently exist in that regard, she spotlighted such ongoing challenges as women’s unmet economic, social and cultural rights; misogynistic attitudes, prejudice and discrimination; and gender-based violence.  Outlining the priorities of his country’s national action plan — which utilizes a “whole-of-Government” approach — she said its terms cover issues ranging from domestic decision-making processes to foreign policy to the rights of refugees being hosted by Luxembourg.  Indeed, the country’s women, peace and security agenda complement its broader gender equality plan — titled, “egalité” or equality.  Spotlighting Luxembourg’s support to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Institute for Criminal Investigations, UN-Women and other relevant departments and offices, he said all countries must redouble their efforts to end discrimination against women, both in war and peacetime, in order to fully implement the agenda enshrined in resolution 1325 (2000).

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said no society can sustain peace or realize peace dividends unless women are involved in peace-making and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.  It is time for the Security Council to give priority to the gender perspective in diagnosing security-risk situations and in formulating solutions for reducing such risks.  “The Council must consider the meaningful participation and empowerment of women across all agenda items, including in all mandate renewals,” he said.  By tradition, household decisions in the Maldives are taken jointly by women and men in most situations, he said.  Yet, despite universal suffrage and no discrimination in school enrolment and employment, his country is pursuing efforts to overcome remaining gender challenges, including by increasing the number of women in executive and decision-making positions in the Government and the private sector.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, provided a snapshot of national achievements, including the recent adoption of the third national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  In Georgia, more than 65 per cent of those involved in the country’s peace process are women.  Despite those efforts, the ongoing occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions by the Russian Federation continues to hinder the peace process and imposes severe conditions on one of society’s most vulnerable groups.  Describing the recent kidnapping of a Georgian woman from her own orchard by Russian occupying forces, he said the story is not an outstanding one, but just an example of everyday life in the occupied zone.  Georgia’s commitment to a peaceful resolution is unwavering, he said, also pledging to incorporate a gender perspective in this process and to protect the rights of affected women.

MILICA PEJANOVIC DURISIC (Montenegro), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said her Government has taken a number of steps, with a focus on increasing women’s political participation, combating violence against them and boosting their economic empowerment.  However, work at the individual country level is not enough to address shared challenges, she said, calling for international efforts to provide assistance.  In this regard, her delegation has contributed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Trust Fund for Jordan, which aims at increasing female representation, supporting the recruitment of female officers and providing gender training.  Moreover, a number of female officers in Montenegro’s armed forces were trained and certified as regional instructors in order to implement the gender agenda in international peacekeeping missions and operations.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), supporting the eradication of impunity for sexual abuses and other crimes committed during times of conflict, highlighted her country’s support for investigative mechanisms for such offences in Syria.  She also noted Qatar’s assistance for victims of trafficking.  In this vein, she welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a champion to end violence against women.  Qatar is also participating in an initiative to promote participation of young people in many decision-making processes.  The Government had also launched a book to pay tribute to women who work for peace, to make their accomplishments known and to empower other women to follow in their footsteps.

CRAIG J. HAWKE (New Zealand) recalled that, earlier in October, his country hosted the annual conference of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres, which included workshops on the women, peace and security agenda.  Welcoming these constructive discussions, he said New Zealand also now holds the presidency of the 24-year-old Association, with Colonel Helen Cooper acting as its first female president.  Noting that women and girls still face discriminatory barriers in conflict and humanitarian situations, he said reduced access to sexual and reproductive health services has been shown to result in a needless loss of life due to increased rates of unsafe abortion and preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.  The removal of such barriers is critical to ensuring the health and safety of women and girls, he said, emphasizing that all people must have full control over their own sexual and reproductive health and rights.

ANN SUDMALIS (Australia) said a Government-funded research project on the issue of women, peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region demonstrated that the active presence of women’s civil society organizations is a crucial factor in securing lasting peace agreements.  These organizations are on the ground before, during and after conflicts, helping to mediate and resolve conflict and to rebuild community relations and trust in institutions.  However, their governance skills, capacities and qualities are fully appreciated only when women enter the post-conflict security sector or Government.  The research also shows that women’s meaningful participation is rarely adequately supported or funded.  Practical measures to support women’s participation include access to childcare, safe transport, toilets and funding travel for companions or caregivers.  The Government has trained 101 Australian military gender advisers and created 10 full-time gender adviser positions to mainstream a gender perspective in the Australian military.

VERÓNICA GARCÍA GUTIÉRREZ (Costa Rica) said when women are in decision-making positions and involved in peace processes, results are more effective.  Welcoming the ongoing reform of the United Nations peace and security architecture, she said gender perspectives must be included in all conflict resolutions and in such critical issues as non-proliferation and disarmament.  Welcoming the “Ensuring Our Shared Future” disarmament agenda, which specifically includes women, she also drew attention to a need to eradicate institutionalized discrimination and inequitable power dynamics while ensuring the realization of women’s human rights.  Outlining national efforts in this regard, she said Costa Rica is working in capacity building and women’s empowerment, while also tackling violence against women.  Describing the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war or terrorism as unacceptable, she called for the provision of sexual and reproductive health services and a stronger involvement of women in leadership roles at all levels.

DEE‑MAXWELL SAAH KEMAYAH, SR. (Liberia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, said studies show that including women in conflict prevention and resolution leads to more secure peace.  Indeed, no society has ever successfully emerged from conflict without the strong participation of women.  While 18 years have elapsed since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), such participation still faces obstacles and inequity still abounds.  “We must collectively endeavour to invest in the contributions women make” to more secure environments, he said, urging States to undertake national and regional review processes to take stock of progress made in the two years left before the resolution’s twentieth anniversary.  Underlining women’s crucial role in helping Liberia to emerge from its own civil conflict, he said the Government prioritizes women’s rights in its pro-poor development strategy and peacebuilding plans.  Among other things, these plans seek to improve women’s participation in decision-making, he said, noting that women have been appointed to many high-level Government positions.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said a more complete and holistic approach is needed to address the root causes of conflict and to boost the position of women in peace processes and decision-making.  Aware of the contribution that women can make in early warning mechanisms and their role in mediation, Morocco has taken a number of steps, such as joining the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network, created by Spain.  In addition, several hundred women in Morocco serve as Muslim spiritual guides, known as morchidates, in mosques and religious institutions, providing guidance on the true peaceful principles of Islam.  Furthermore, women are regularly deployed in Moroccan contingents serving in MONUSCO and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said resolution 1325 (2000) along with the Council’s seven other resolutions on women, peace and security have formed a strong normative framework for the operationalization of that important agenda.  Noting progress in paying increased attention to the issue in several of the Council’s recently mandated peacekeeping operations, he expressed support for the women, peace and security agenda and said all parties are responsible for translating it into action — including by closing gaps at national and international levels.  Thailand aligns its own women, peace and security strategy with its national gender equality plan, which ranges from development to prevention to sustaining peace.  Among other things, Thailand has submitted its country report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and a voluntary report on the status of the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda — including data and analysis — to assist in the preparation of the Secretary-General’s 2018 report on the resolution’s implementation.

ROBERT KAYINAMURA (Rwanda) said that women’s importance in peacemaking was adequately demonstrated in her country after the 1994 genocide, when women whose relatives had joined insurgents were empowered to act as emissaries to get them to return home and participate in reintegration programmes.  In addition, when land reform resulted in women holding a majority of land titles, land-related conflicts drastically declined and local economies benefited.  Women, he emphasized, are key to repairing the fabric of society after conflict and are therefore able to help maintain traditional methods of conflict resolution and ensure local ownership of mediation efforts.  Describing great strides in women’s leadership in his country, as well, he said that better use must be made of existing platforms to share best practices in women’s empowerment.  In addition, all actors need to do a better job at assessment and accountability for progress in the women, peace and security agenda.

SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti) said that the full and effective implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) continues to be a priority for her country.  Without the perspective and active participation of women at all levels of decision-making, goals relating to development and peace cannot be achieved.  Much progress has been made to include women in various aspects of peace and security, but much more needs to be done.  She noted that repercussions of climate change on security have disproportionately affected women, limiting their access to essential resources like water, which has had negative effects on their livelihoods.  As a result, the international community’s response to women in peace and security must consider climate issues and gender disparities.

SOFYA SIMONYAN (Armenia) echoed concerns about persistent challenges facing the realization of women’s rights alongside their increased risk of violence, injustice and inequality.  In 2018, a momentous moment in Armenia’s history occurred where all citizens — led by youth and women — fully exercised their fundamental freedoms of expression belief and opinion, she said, noting that the Government is continuing to promote the same sense of confidence in women’s meaningful participation in public affairs and political processes.  Armenia prioritizes fundamental reforms aimed at accelerating gender equality and women’s empowerment, including the enhancement of women’s participation in decision-making and their representation in politics.  Armenia is also in the final stage of elaborating its national action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000) following an inclusive process of public consultations.

AMARSANAA DARISUREN, Senior Gender Advisor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said the women, peace and security agenda resonates strongly with its own concept of comprehensive security.  Noting that the politico-military, economic, environmental and human dimensions of security are tightly intertwined, she underlined the importance of women’s political and economic empowerment and their meaningful participation in all aspects of preventing and resolving conflicts and building peaceful societies.  Such participation remains a problem, she said, citing an underrepresentation of women in negotiating parties and in OSCE mediation teams.  To overcome this challenge, OSCE is developing a tool-kit on women’s inclusion in peace processes, which will outline practical steps to increase women’s inclusion and bridge the gap between their peacebuilding efforts and official negotiation formats.  Spotlighting the example of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, she said women’s involvement is crucial to prevent the further escalation of tensions and keep the peace.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) emphasized her country’s commitment to the political and economic empowerment of women and their participation in the quest for peace.  She underscored several gender-related initiatives, including a national crusade against violence against women.  She added that women now make up 3.5   cent of Ecuador’s armed forces, with female observers participating in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said the achievement of women’s equality and empowerment are pivotal for her country’s efforts to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  In this context, she welcomed the Secretary‑General’s advocacy for equal inclusion of women in all decision-making processes related to disarmament.  Underlining the importance of the rule of law for the advancement of women’s rights, she said Trinidad and Tobago had signed onto relevant conventions.  Her country and the Caribbean Community were particularly active in promoting international mechanisms for the control of illicit arms, which has a direct effect on the safety of women, as well as on CEDAW.  She reaffirmed her country’s commitment to working with other Member States for the continued advancement of women.

ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, expressed grave concern over the intimidation and reprisals against women who campaign for peace.  Their fears must not be silenced, but rather taken into account in decision-making processes.  Greater public visibility for such women has been a long time coming.  Ensuring that women and girls are protected from sexual violence and trafficking requires reinforcing their participation, leadership and presence when decisions are taken, he said.  Emphasizing that women in peacekeeping operations have a direct impact on sustaining peace, he noted that they account for 13 per cent of Romania’s police contingents deployed in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta) said women should be central participants in international debates and in all efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts.  Women suffer direct and deliberate violence in conflict zones, he said, recalling the Secretary-General’s March report on the topic, and noting the lack of progress on commitments to peace and security, human rights and gender equality.  For its part, Malta enacted a new law against gender-based and domestic violence in 2018, and a focal point on women, peace and security was appointed within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion.  Malta supports the Secretary-General’s plan to enhance women’s participation within the Organization at all levels.  “Demonstrating that women in decision-making roles are the norm and not the exception will be an important legacy for the United Nations.”

DANIELA RODRIGUEZ (Venezuela) said humanity continued to see the devastating consequences of violations to international humanitarian law worldwide.  Stressing that women and girls are still objects of recurrent, systematic sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, she said there will be no peace and security if they are not effectively included and integrated into peace and security structures and processes.  The international community must have the highest level of political commitment when allocating resources for the betterment of women, directing them towards the active participation of women in peacebuilding and peacekeeping at the local level.  Condemning sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations field missions, she stressed that there should be zero-tolerance for these crimes.

CLARE HUTCHISON, Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security of the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said that as a military and political alliance, it recognizes that the security needs of women and men are different.  Sometimes, however, it has missed the opportunity to integrate their diverse perspectives of security, she acknowledged, adding that NATO is now ensuring that all its work reflects a whole-of-population approach.  Emphasizing the alliance’s commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, she noted that its Heads of State and Government earlier in 2018 endorsed a new policy and action plan on the topic with integration, inclusiveness and integrity as its guiding principles.  That policy will become an integral part of NATO’s daily work, with the goal of making gender equality a part of all its activities, operations and missions.

Underscoring the need for a holistic approach to security, she noted that political instability reinforces women’s economic fragility.  “We must do better to support women to be agents of their own future,” she said, pointing to NATO’s engagement with women’s civil society organizations through a Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security.  Members of that panel have highlighted their frustration at the slow progress of the women, peace and security agenda, and NATO has responded by ensuring that gender and the inclusion of women’s voices is mainstreamed throughout its work.  “We must recognize that violations of women’s rights and women’s political and economic isolation are indicators of potential conflict,” she stated, stressing the need to incorporate gender perspectives into early warning analysis.

Consistency and coherence across the international system are critical for advancing the women, peace and security agenda, she continued.  “We must articulate our vision, coordinate our efforts and demonstrate our collective support while holding accountable all those responsible for implementing this mandate,” she said, emphasizing that the agenda requires collective action to ensure tangible progress.

LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said millions of women and girls around the world are disproportionately affected by the impacts of armed conflict, poverty, gender bias, discrimination and other disparities.  Noting that conflict-related sexual violence is often used as a tool of humiliation and intimidation, she said the devastating health consequences of violence to women, their children and society are clear.  Regardless of the circumstances and settings of violence, perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.  The international community should pay heed to the plight of women and girls in armed conflicts.  Among pressing issues needing urgent action is that of civilians, including women and children, taken hostage and reported missing in armed conflict.

MARÍA BASSOLS DELGADO (Spain) said that, despite progress since 2000, data still points to the low participation of women in peace processes.  She agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to adopt specific measures to overcome barriers that hamper the full and significant participation of women in all peace processes.  She shared details of a joint initiative between Spain and Finland on women, peace and security that includes additional measures to augment the presence of women in peace processes.  Those measures include the appointment of women to relevant positions of responsibility, financing incentives for greater participation of women, and working hand in hand with civil society to ensure that women are included in all peace processes and negotiations.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said no country knows better than his the crucial role of women in upholding international peace and security.  The impact of nearly four decades of conflict in Afghanistan has been borne disproportionately by women, whose rights were obliterated and voices repressed.  In recent years, the Government has made women’s empowerment a strategic objective, with women becoming the architects of society and a central pillar for a new generation of leaders.  Strengthened efforts to implement anti-harassment laws have enabled Afghanistan to address societal barriers that prevented women from joining the civil service, where they now account for 22.5 per cent of all staff.  Nearly 18 per cent of the High Peace Council is composed of women, with four in executive leadership positions.  Legislative steps have meanwhile been taken to combat violence against women, alongside measures to increase their control over economic assets.  The biggest impediment to progress remains insecurity caused by violent proxies exported from outside Afghanistan, he said, calling on the Security Council to take appropriate action against the orchestrators of that insecurity.  “It is only through our persistent efforts that Afghan women will become agents of sustaining peace,” he stated.

THABO MICHAEL MOLEFE (South Africa) said governance and policymaking should be inclusive of women’s voices as key decision makers.  Women’s participation strengthens democratic processes, making them sensitive to women’s needs and entrenching their perspectives and leadership roles.  She added that her country is committed to ending and condemning the widespread and systemic sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls.  This instrument of war is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.  She called on all parties to fully support survivors of these atrocious acts and strongly condemned the use of sexual violence, especially as a tactic of war.  Ending this evil scourge, addressing the resulting trauma and holding those responsible for committing these heinous acts accountable is integral to the reconciliation and peacebuilding process.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), noting efforts to finalize its national action plan will coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), highlighted major strides in women’s empowerment since the ravages of his country’s war for independence.  Women now figured prominently in peacekeeping contingents and are a vibrant presence in representational institutions from local to national levels.  However, entrenched societal norms continue to impede the full advancement of women.  In this context, the United Nations and its partners can act as standard-bearers for societies in transition.  Turning to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, he described his country’s work with partners to create safe, inclusive spaces for women and girls residing in refugee camps.  Rohingya victims have every right to seek accountability for those who have perpetrated grave crimes against them.  Bangladesh is cooperating with the United Nations to address victims’ needs, he said, pledging continued support for the entire 1325 agenda.

MICHAEL BAROR (Israel) said his delegation was taking the floor a second time to highlight the fact that Bolivia, as Council President for October, had invited to today’s meeting the head of a Palestinian organization that has too many times promoted hatred and violence.  It was a questionable choice.  He added that Bolivia is far from being a role model for human rights, and that the truth is that the biggest enemy of the Palestinian people are the Palestinian Government and Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), Council President for October, cited rule 39 of the Council’s rules of procedure, which reads:  “The Security Council may invite members of the Secretariat or other persons, whom it considers competent for the purpose, to supply it with information or to give other assistance in examining matters within its competence.”  He also said Bolivia’s doors are open to anyone who wishes to look at its human rights situation.  He added that the greatest enemy of the Palestinian people is the illegal Israeli occupation.  When that ends, he said, then the Palestinian people will be able to enjoy the exercise of self-determination and resolve their own problems.

For information media. Not an official record.