International Community Must Ensure Women Equally Participate in Peace, Political Processes, Delegate Underlines, as Security Council Concludes Annual Debate
The importance of strengthening the participation of women for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security remained in the spotlight today as the Security Council resumed — and concluded — its annual open debate on the topic of women, peace and security.
Türkiye’s delegate voiced concern over the suffering of women and girls amid intensifying conflicts around the world, pointing out that the situation in the Middle East, as well as in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan and other regions, illustrates how the advances of the women, peace and security agenda can easily be rolled back. As the humanitarian toll in Gaza rises, women and girls have been gravely impacted, she noted, with thousands killed, widowed or displaced and pregnant women unable to access safe hospitals.
The representative of Israel called on the Council to condemn “the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against innocent women and girls in Israel by the jihadist terror organization Hamas”, which perpetrated heinous crimes in her country on 7 October. Testimonies and videos taken by the terrorists themselves showed brutal gender- and sexual-based violence, including rape and femicide. “How am I to speak about the participation of women in peace and security, when the women and girls in my country were intentionally targeted in attacks that amount to international war crimes and crimes against humanity?” she asked.
Sierra Leone’s delegate spotlighted the role of women in his country in rebuilding at the end of the civil war 20 years ago, noting that female peacebuilders also helped bring about lasting peace, enabling its return to civilian rule and democratic elections. Thanks to their advocacy through groups such as the Women’s Forum and the Movement for Peace, among others, the Government and warring factions climbed down from their entrenched positions and worked towards a negotiated settlement, he said, adding that his country will use its experience to further the women, peace and security agenda during its 2024-2025 term on the Council.
The representative of Germany observed that the Secretary-General’s report paints a bleak picture, with only one out of 18 peace agreements in 2022 signed by a representative of a women’s organization. “We need a radical shift,” he said. Germany is pledging an additional $10 million towards the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, of which it is already the largest donor. In May, Germany co-hosted the Global Women’s Forum for Peace and Humanitarian Action, resulting in the Berlin Declaration, with recommendations to strengthen the influence and capacity of women in peace and humanitarian action, he added.
Meanwhile, Chile’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Feminist Foreign Policy Plus Group, noted the plethora of instruments relating to gender and said the issue is not the lack of frameworks or guidelines, but the implementation on the ground. The international community must ensure that women — equally, directly and influentially — participate in formal or high-level peace and political processes in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. Military interventions alone, without rebuilding the social fabric, do very little to deliver long term solutions for women, she added.
FILIP DE MAESSCHALCK (Belgium), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, called for concrete action to further progress on the women, peace and security agenda, which has been slow, uneven and insufficient. He emphasized the need for efforts to strengthen realization of gender equality, in the face of a global rise in misogyny. He deplored the widespread attacks and reprisals faced by female human rights defenders and journalists, as well as harassment, threats and disinformation faced by women journalists and leaders. Belgium welcomes strengthened support by the United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions to women human rights defenders. Finally, he voiced regret over the financial gaps and lack of investment in local women’s rights organizations, who are the driving force in furthering progress in the women, peace and security agenda. Belgium supports the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund and calls on others to do the same.
FIKRIYE ASLI GÜVEN (Türkiye) said that women and girls in various parts of the world continue to suffer as conflicts intensify. The situation in the Middle East, as well as in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan and other regions, illustrates how the advances of the women, peace and security agenda can easily be rolled back. As the humanitarian toll in Gaza rises, women and girls have been gravely impacted, she noted, with thousands killed, widowed or displaced and pregnant women unable to access safe hospitals. She deplored that sexual violence has become a regular tactic in conflict, with women too often excluded from efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts. She highlighted the importance of strengthening the global response to conflict situations, implementing international humanitarian law under all conditions, and further incorporating a gender perspective into the training of security personnel at both national and international levels.
THOMAS PETER ZAHNEISEN (Germany), aligning himself with the European Union, Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Feminist Foreign Policy Plus Group, said that it is in everybody’s self-interest to finally remove the obstacles to the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women and girls in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. However, the Secretary-General’s report paints a bleak picture, he said, noting that out of 18 peace agreements in 2022, only one was signed by a representative of a women’s organization. “We need a radical shift.” Germany is pledging an additional $10 million towards the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, of which it is already the largest donor. In May, Germany co-hosted the Global Women’s Forum for Peace and Humanitarian Action, resulting in the Berlin Declaration, with recommendations to strengthen the influence and capacity of women in peace and humanitarian action, he added.
AMARA SHEIKH MOHAMMED SOWA (Sierra Leone) said that his country will work on furthering the women, peace and security agenda during its 2024-2025 term on the Security Council, informed by its experience. Highlighting the role of Sierra Leone’s women in rebuilding at the end of the civil war in his country 20 years ago, he noted that female peacebuilders also helped bring about lasting peace, helping it return to civilian rule and democratic elections. He highlighted their advocacy through groups such as the Women’s Forum and the Movement for Peace, among others, through which the Government and warring factions climbed down from their entrenched positions and worked towards a negotiated settlement. The participation of women also helped open discussions on contentious issues, he said, spotlighting their role in transitional justice mechanisms, which led to the country’s Head of State issuing an apology to women who suffered violence during the civil war, as part of a truth and reconciliation process.
PAULA NARVÁEZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Feminist Foreign Policy Plus Group, noted the plethora of instruments relating to gender and said the issue is not the lack of frameworks or guidelines, but the implementation on the ground. The international community must consider how it can eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination including multiple and intersecting forms. It must ensure that women — equally, directly and influentially — participate in formal or high-level peace and political processes in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. Further, it must include diverse voices, including those of youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, she said. Military interventions alone, without rebuilding the social fabric, do very little to deliver long term solutions for women, she pointed out.
Peace should be grounded in an intersectional analysis of patriarchal systems, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, she said. While the world’s military spending reached an all-time high of $2.24 trillion in 2022, there was no substantial progress in increasing funding for women’s organizations, including grass-roots and feminist organizations, she pointed out. In her national capacity, she stressed the need to dismantle the institutional frameworks and patriarchal templates that limit women. Achieving tangible change for the security of women journalists and peacebuilders means eliminating the threat of physical violence through firearms, she said. This calls for combating small arms and light weapons. Working for disarmament and prioritizing development is a crucial aspect of ensuring women’s participation in the peace agenda, she said.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), detailing the security risks faced by women in Myanmar, said that women’s participation in the resistance against the illegal coup has not weakened. Rather, it is the driving force of an ongoing movement to end the coup and establish a peaceful country. The focus now is on finding a sustainable solution, he said, stressing the need to ensure women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation to that end. Pointing to the “civilian protection crisis”, he said that women and girls must be protected from sexual violence and other serious crimes, particularly in conflict areas. The Council should take concrete actions to end military impunity for serious international crimes, including rape and sexual violence. He appealed to neighbouring and third countries to support and provide safety to Myanmar women, including civil servants and journalists who fled from the junta’s ceaseless persecutions.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) noted the role of women and girls is determined daily as evidenced by the frequent gender violence they face, especially in armed conflict, where sexual assault is weaponized. The current crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip is only the latest example, with “the terrorist attacks by Hamas severely harming Israeli women in ways too distressing to detail here,” he stressed. Expressing his deepest sympathies for victims and survivors, he affirmed Kenya’s unequivocal condemnation of this terrorism and acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its citizens against Hamas’ actions. He further stated that United Nations agencies on the ground in Gaza report an extensive humanitarian emergency, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) noting that 50,000 women are pregnant, with 5,500 anticipated to deliver in November. Immediate unhindered humanitarian access is imperative, while the voices and stories of mothers and daughters must be heard and valued — as they are too often seen mainly as victims, sidelining their roles as leaders and decision makers.
AVITAL MIMRAN ROSENBERG (Israel) said that despite the adoption of Council resolution 1325 (2000), the international community is still witnessing heinous crimes, such as the one committed by Hamas on 7 October in her country. Testimonies and videos taken by the terrorists themselves showed brutal gender- and sexual-based violence, including rape and femicide. “How am I to speak about the participation of women in peace and security, when the women and girls in my country were intentionally targeted in attacks that amount to international war crimes and crimes against humanity?” The international community has failed to act against perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, nor has it created safe environments for women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. She called on the Council to condemn “the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against innocent women and girls in Israel by the jihadist terror organization Hamas”.
NARMIN AHANGARI (Azerbaijan) said that women and girls taken hostage or reported missing during armed conflicts are at risk of exploitation, abuse, trafficking and other criminal activities. At the international level, Azerbaijan is addressing the issue of missing persons and on women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts, including through resolutions in the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women. However, she voiced regret that, over the past three decades, women and girls in Azerbaijan have experienced first-hand the devastating effects of Armenia’s occupation of their territories, with 267 women going missing due to the conflict. “It was established that 98 of those women were taken as hostages,” she said, adding that, although they were seen alive during captivity, their whereabouts remain unknown. Azerbaijan expects that Armenia will shed light on their fates and ensure accountability, she added.
YOJNA PATEL (India)said that women are still underrepresented in peace processes, political dialogue and peacebuilding. Noting that out of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers, women constitute only 4.8 per cent of military contingents and 10.9 per cent of formed police units in United Nations peacekeeping missions, she urged increasing female peacekeeper representation. India deployed the first-ever all-female formed police unit for United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in 2007, she noted, pointing to the mentoring role women played in preventing conflict-related sexual violence. India was the first country to contribute to the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and signed a relevant voluntary compact in 2017. In September, India passed the Women’s Reservation Bill, reserving one third of legislative seats for women, she said, stressing that this historic step ensured female participation in all levels of political decision-making.
DANGIRUTĖ VEST (Lithuania), aligning herself with the European Union, noted that while the world is marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in some regions those rights are brutally violated. She condemned Hamas and its extensive and inhumane terrorist attacks across Israel, mourning the loss of lives. She further noted she is appalled by the Taliban’s deliberate and systematic repressions on women and girls in Afghanistan. The ban on Afghan women from working for non-governmental organizations and UN-led organizations critically impacts the delivery of basic services and humanitarian assistance, while the Taliban continues to restrict the education of girls. She further stressed that the Russian Federation’s brutal, illegal and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine exacts a tremendous toll which disproportionately affects women and girls — reiterating that Moscow should be brought to justice and pay all the damages caused by its war.
ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra), aligning herself with the European Union, noted that her country aims to promote the participation of women in all aspects of political life, given her Government is made up of more women than men. As indicated in the resolutions of the women, peace and security agenda, “we have a legal and normative framework that is solid to guarantee full and complete participation of women, on an equal footing”; however, “its complete and effective implementation remains a challenge”, she observed. Andorra supports initiatives aimed at increasing women's leadership in peace and security, has joined the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and is encouraged by the progress made so far, as envisioned by the Secretary-General’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy (2018-2028). In addition, as a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, her Government supports its capacity-building initiatives in promoting equality between women and men.
TRISHALA PERSAUD (Guyana) voicing alarm that the number of women and girls living in conflict-affected States is reported at 614 million in 2022, 50 per cent higher than in 2017, said the Security Council must insist that reports on country situations include substantial information, data and analysis on the situations of women and girls. Parties to conflicts must take special measures to protect women and girls from all forms of violence, she added, stressing that those who have committed atrocities against them must not be allowed impunity. Also, peace agreements must have a gender perspective. There must be a shift from rhetoric to setting specific targets against which progress can be measured, she pointed out, welcoming the Secretary-General’s call for at least one third of participants in mediation and peace processes to be women. The Guyana Defence Force is committed to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, including through the provision of professional development opportunities and a comfortable environment for women to serve in the military, she added.
TITHIARUN MAO (Cambodia), aligning himself with ASEAN, noted his country’s progress in enhancing women's participation. The President of the National Assembly of Cambodia is a woman and the number of female ministers in its newly formed Government has increased. Cambodia has also transformed itself from a host country to an active contributor to UN peacekeeping operations since 2006, he said, reporting that in 2022, Cambodia ranked twelfth among 121 troop-contributing countries and second among ASEAN countries with respect to the number of women peacekeepers deployed. Currently, Cambodia deploys 903 troops, of which 148 are women — equal to 16.42 per cent of its troops, exceeding the UN limit of 15 per cent. The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security aims to galvanize the group to advance the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda so as to promote sustainable peace and security for all citizens and to boost women’s participation in protection, prevention and recovery from conflicts.
ASBINA MARIN SEVILLA (Venezuela) said that, while her country doesn’t experience armed conflict, it bears the brunt of aggressive unilateral measures and foreign intervention, which affect women, girls and vulnerable populations. She deplored the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, which she characterized as a “multidimensional weapon of war” due to their widespread impact on many realms, including humanitarian assistance, trade chains, access to universal health care and education. She called for an end to such “cruel, dehumanizing policies”, which impact the rights of women and girls, lead to the trafficking and smuggling of migrants and the commodification of humanitarian assistance. She underscored that the real policy of women, peace and security will remain incomplete so long as Palestinian women remain under the yoke of Israel, the occupying Power. The siege has claimed thousands of victims, and bombings do not discriminate on gender or any other factor, she said, calling for the military attacks to end.
RONA MARIE PANTELI (Cyprus), aligning herself with the European Union, said that 23 years after the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), “the sad reality is that we are now witnessing major pushbacks against women’s and girls’ rights across the world” — with the number of attacks and reprisals against them on the rise. Women’s participation in the women, peace and security agenda should not only be full, equal and meaningful, but also safe. She noted with concern the findings in the latest Secretary-General’s report that widespread attacks against women human rights defenders in conflict-affected settings continue. In response to his call, Cyprus will make a voluntary contribution to the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund’s Invest-in-Women Campaign for 2023-2025 to support women’s organizations and human rights defenders in crisis situations, she said.
FRANCISCO JOSE DA CRUZ (Angola) said that his country has played an important role in conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as in promoting peace and democracy in Africa, especially in the Great Lakes Region, through diplomacy and dialogue. Underscoring the need for women’s greater participation and the integration of the gender equality dimension in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, he spotlighted his Government’s 2017 Angolan National Action Plan for the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000), as well as national-level efforts to integrate women in defence, internal security and cooperation policies. As a result, women will make up 38 per cent of Parliament and 40 per cent of Government. He went on to recall that in May 2022, Angola hosted the first International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that continued threats to global peace undermine the gains achieved in women’s rights and prevent gender equality. Bahrain remains committed to all efforts to advance the women, peace and security agenda. Its High Women’s Council has made a qualitative impact on gender equality, he said, adding that all parties to armed conflicts must adhere to international law, especially those provisions related to the protection of women. Emphasizing that the Middle East is experiencing serious challenges, with most of the victims being women and children, he called for an immediate ceasefire and end to military operations and protection for all civilians of both sides — Palestinian and Israeli — including the release of all prisoners and provision of aid to alleviate a humanitarian disaster that is impacting too many Palestinians, he said.
AHMED SAHRAOUI (Algeria), taking the floor a second time, said he would not reply to the lies uttered by Morocco’s delegate. However, the topic of women, peace and security cannot be addressed without speaking of women who languish under the yoke of occupation. He saluted women who resist occupation in Western Sahara and Palestine, adding that Sahrawi women are fighting for their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination. Council resolutions on Western Sahara have called for a just, durable political solution that is acceptable to all, he said, adding that the issue is one of decolonization.
The representative of Morocco, responding to the “hateful, lie-filled intervention” made by Algeria today and on 25 October, said that 98 delegations, senior UN officials and others did not refer in any way to Moroccan Sahara in their interventions as that topic has “absolutely nothing to do with this debate”. As usual, Algeria tried to poison the debate for political purposes, betraying their separatist destructive agenda. That delegation must be ashamed to refer to Moroccan Sahara while sequestering entire populations, particularly women and children, in the Tindouf camps. There, they are at the mercy of Algeria and separatist armed groups linked to the terrorist Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO). They experience enslavement, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers, she said, adding that there are no Sahrawi women, but rather Moroccan women.