The Women, Peace and Security Agenda 15 Years On - Towards a High-Level Review of resolution 1325 (2000)

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Mission to Finland on 10 June, 2014, in Helsinki

Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2014

[Check against delivery]

Excellencies, colleagues and friends, I am very pleased to be here with you today.

I would like to express UN Women’s great appreciation to the Government of Finland for its leadership on Women, Peace and Security.

Last year was an historic one for our agenda. The Security Council adopted two new resolutions, 2106 and 2122.

The CEDAW committee adopted General Recommendation Number 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations.

Two high-level political commitments were made in the General Assembly to combat sexual violence in conflict.

A declaration on women’s economic empowerment for peacebuilding was adopted by the Peacebuilding Commission.
And a criterion on gender-based violence was included in the Arms Trade Treaty.

This year and 2015 will also be extremely important due to the convergence of so many global policy events: agreement on the post-2015 development framework; the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action; and the 15-year anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325.

Today, despite the passage of resolutions, declarations and policies, many women and girls in conflict situations still don’t feel the impact of the progress made at the global level.

Together, we must shift the focus from rhetoric and good intentions to actual improvements in the lives of women and girls.

I have visited Syrian women refugees, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and also Nigeria to bring back the abducted girls.

Elsewhere – including in Afghanistan – we risk seeing progress reversed as women and girls are increasingly targeted because they dare to attend school, or occupy positions of leadership in government or enter the public sphere.

The situation for women in conflict-affected countries remains dire and much more needs to be done to protect the rights of girls and women.

Last year the Security Council requested the UN Secretary-General to produce a Global Study on the implementation of 1325 to be submitted for consideration at next year’s High Level Review.

The abduction of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria shows us that women and girls are not only pawns in warfare, but the empowerment of women and girls, their education and self-reliance, are deeply threatening to the forces of violence and chaos.

That is why we see groups like Boko Haram and the Taliban attacking girls as they try to learn. This brings me to the first point that UN Women would like the High-Level panel to address:

1. We need less process and more results for women and girls

While advancing the policy framework is crucial, at times it seems like these instruments have been promoted above political, and operational responses that might make more of an impact.

Today, we have over 40 National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security. While this is an impressive number, are these plans really action-oriented? Are they adequately funded?

The study and the policy agenda that emerges from the 2015 High-Level Review must focus on impact, especially now that the normative framework is so robust.

2. This agenda needs to be treated with political urgency

It is my experience that for women, peace and security is still treated as an afterthought by many decision-makers. In Syria, despite their best efforts, women’s peace advocates have struggled to get a seat at the table.

We still face the attitude that women’s priorities are a secondary concern, after the men with guns deal with the so-called ‘hard issues’. This attitude deprives women of their right to participate and goes against the spirit of Security Council Resolution 1325, and the UN Charter itself. This attitude also means that women’s contributions to peacemaking and peacebuilding are undermined.

As we have seen in Rwanda, Liberia and elsewhere, women’s peacebuilding efforts make a crucial difference to national reconciliation, recovery and stability.

3. Women, peace and security must be adequately resourced

Resources allocated to women, peace and security continue to be woefully inadequate.

The UN has committed to allocating 15 per cent of all recovery funding to women’s empowerment and gender equality by the end of this year.

In partnership with UNDP and the Peacebuilding support office, UN Women recently commissioned an indicative baseline study. The study shows that in 2012 only six per cent of recovery funding was allocated to projects that have gender equality and women’s empowerment as the main objective.

So we are still far from reaching our own target.

But these commitments have led to improved tracking and monitoring, which we must use to see what needs to be done to accelerate the pace of change.

I hope that all governments will rigorously examine their own performance in terms of funding allocations to women, peace and security. In your role of co-chair of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, Finland is uniquely placed to advocate for adequate financing of Women, Peace and Security.

4. How can we plug the gaps that we know exist?

We know that some areas of the women, peace and security agenda have performed better than others. Many of the countries with the best women’s representation in parliament are emerging from conflict.

However, women’s participation in peace processes remains too low and women continue to be excluded from economic recovery.

This undermines their contribution to economic security and peacebuilding and impedes their ability to provide for themselves and their children.

Women’s inability to access land, finance and productive resources affects their physical security as well. The Security Council’s global study must force the international community to do some soul-searching.

Why do we continue to underperform on the commitments enshrined in 1325 and the Beijing Platform for Action? As is often the case, the answer lies in politics.

We have some very strong supporters in the Security Council. But are those Member States bringing in a gender perspective to the country-specific deliberations? Are women’s priorities integrated into the work of the New Deal? Are they inviting women to the donor conferences?

Are we as the UN doing enough to ensure coordination and coherence, rather than competition and duplication?

I hope that we can use this moment to interrogate ourselves frankly.

As I mentioned, the preparations for the High-level Review and the Global Study come at just the right time, as we discuss the post-2015 development framework and the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action.

This represents an incredible opportunity to forge a transformative new agenda for women, peace, and security.

The engagement and input of our Member States will be fundamental to success in 2015. I look forward to our Friends of 1325 being very active contributors.

The Beijing Platform for Action shows the way.

From reducing military expenditure to conflict prevention to fostering a culture of peace to ending occupation, we must remember that for women, peace and security is not about simply adding women to the existing peace and security paradigm. It is about a vision of a more equitable, peaceful and prosperous world.

Women and girls in conflict zones are expecting all of us to live up to the vision of Beijing and 1325. It will take all of us – government, international organizations, civil society, women and men, if we are to succeed.

On that note, I am pleased to announce that UN Women has a new campaign called HeForShe to engage men and boys to speak out for the rights of women and girls.

We have reached more than 28 million people on social media.

A man in Nigeria who signed on as a HeForShe has committed himself to speak out whenever he hears of a woman or girl suffering from violence at the hands of men. He has intervened on behalf of his neighbour woman and the violence has stopped.

A man in Zimbabwe who has declared himself a HeForShe has started a group for husbands in his community to advance gender equality.

I encourage all men here to join and take a stand and be on the right side of history. Be a HeForShe!

I want to close by sharing with you call to action for all of humanity, which is the SHE Imperative.

The S stands for safety so that every woman and girl can live free of violence.

The H stands for human rights to which every woman and girl and all human beings are rightfully entitled.

The E stands for equality.

Together we can make this century, the 21st century, the one to realize the promise of the founding document of the United Nations, the promise in the UN Charter of the equal rights of men and women.

I thank you and look forward to working with you to make this promise a reality.