The “Women, Peace and Security” agenda is “one of our greatest hopes” for a more peaceful future and a livable planet, the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday in the Security Council during a high-level debate on the role of regional organizations in implementing this initiative.
“In this time of spreading crises, the international community must pursue proven strategies for peace and stability. Protecting and promoting women’s rights is one such strategy,” Guterres said.
a question of power
Although gender equality is one way to achieve lasting peace and prevent conflict, the UN chief noted that “we are moving in the opposite direction”.
“Current conflicts amplify gender inequality, poverty, climate imbalances and other forms of inequality,” she said, adding that women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the violence and impact of these successive crises.
Guterres specified that millions of girls are unable to go to school and have no prospect of economic independence, while increasing numbers of women and girls are victims of domestic violence.
A situation involving extremists and military leaders who seize power by force when they decide to overturn previous gender equality agreements and devote themselves to the persecution of women.
“Around the world, the recent shift away from inclusive politics shows once again that misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing and stand in the way of stable and prosperous societies,” and he recalled that “equality for women is a matter of power.
Patriarchy continues to fail
The current political deadlocks and deadlocked conflicts are clear examples of how power imbalances and patriarchy persist and continue to fail us, Guterres stressed, citing examples of this situation in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Mali and Sudan.
And more recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of women and children to flee for their lives, “exposing them to all forms of human trafficking and exploitation,” he said.
Last week, the Council heard the intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who reported on 124 complaints of sexual violence linked to the conflict in Ukraine, most of which concerned women and girls.
“In all these conflicts we find men in power and women excluded, their rights and freedoms deliberately attacked,” he said.
In West and Central Africa, the United Nations is working with regional women’s, peace and security organizations to ensure women’s participation in early warning and mediation, including in Côte d’Ivoire.
Cooperation with neighboring countries and regional organizations
When a conflict breaks out, neighboring countries and regional organizations can make a difference, explained the Secretary-General as a possible solution to this problem.
For this reason, Guterres emphasized that the organization’s cooperation with the European Union, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe “is reflected not only in joint statements and resolutions, but also in our day-to-day.” field work.
As an example, he cited the UN alliance with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development in Sudan through a mechanism aimed at redirecting the political process towards an agreed and legitimate constitutional order.
Committed to women
The head of the UN recalled that the organization continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting women working for peace and civil society organizations through political and peacebuilding missions around the world.
“Supporting survivors of sexual violence, as well as women peace advocates and activists is vital,” she said. “Every year there is growing evidence that ensuring women’s rights, including their right to equal participation at all levels, is essential to building and maintaining peace.”
For this reason, he stressed the need to achieve full gender parity, including through quotas, in oversight of electoral processes, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and judicial systems.
The gap in women’s participation in peace processes remains
Despite all this evidence, “the women, peace and security agenda continues to be challenged and even reversed around the world,” Guterres acknowledged.
The United Nations chief urged ambassadors and all member states to reflect that despite the consensus on the value of women attending the peace tables, “there is still a huge gap in their participation and in fulfilling promises for their protection , their human rights and their dignity.”
“I encourage you to advocate for increased civil society support for women, conflict prevention and peacebuilding,” she concluded.
Conflicts cause decades of setbacks
UN Women’s Director Sima Bahous highlighted the impact of conflict on women and girls, ranging from the disruption of education to forced marriages at a young age, sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and poverty, and lack of livelihoods, access to housing, sanitation and Would.
“It takes us back decades,” he said.
At the same time, she stressed that women face threats to their bodies and safety while risking their lives as community leaders, heads of families, peacemakers and mediators.
Compliance with the commitments made in the Security Council
Bahous reminded the Council that Security Council Resolution 1325 is designed to protect women and girls in conflict and ensure that women are at the heart of peacemaking.
He added that many Member States have made national commitments, as have regional organisations.
“Regional organizations have also played a key role in developing networks of women mediators,” she said, adding that almost every region and sub-region has at least one.
However, with all these institutional advances, almost every time there are political negotiations, peace talks, we ask ourselves, “Where are the women?”
“The reason is that we simply have not fulfilled our obligations,” he argued.
The United Nations chief on women called on the Council, member states and regional organizations to ensure all response efforts include the voices of women leaders.
“Make sure women are present. In its own right. With their own lived experiences. With their own knowledge and with their vision of the future,” he emphasized.
“The peace and security we are striving for will only be possible if women play a central role,” he added.