“Making this the year when the status of women in peace and security changed, for good” —Executive Director

Remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the launch of the Global Study on UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, held in New York on 14 October.


Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

When the Secretary-General commissioned this study, in response to a direct request of the Security Council, UN Women was invited to function as the Secretariat.

We willingly took to this task, hoping that the study would have more than one purpose.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment contributes importantly to peace and security

First, we hoped to compile for the first time all the growing evidence that gender equality and women’s empowerment contribute to:

  • the conclusion of peace talks and the achievement of sustainable peace,
  • accelerating economic recovery,
  • strengthening our peace operations and our humanitarian assistance,
  • and helping to counter violent extremism.

This has been the official message and policy of the United Nations since resolution 1325 was adopted.

But it is clear that we still need to make the argument, and show the numbers to the skeptics who resist or ignore the power of women for peace.

This study achieves those aims.

In its pages you will find hundreds of findings and statistics that will help women’s empowerment advocates’ arguments become harder to refute.

A central finding is: Peace negotiations influenced by women are much more likely to end in agreement and to endure.

The chances of the agreement lasting 15 years goes up by as much as 35 per cent.

Replicable case studies

Second, we hoped to showcase good examples and results that could be emulated by all.

This study achieves that.

From the bold steps taken by some countries to transform their militaries,

to the creative ways in which women in Colombia and the Philippines are transforming peace tables, to the preventive action taken by hundreds of women in Burundi or Guinea to protect a fragile peace, and the clear results of temporary special measures in post-conflict politics…

The study is full of good practices in need of support and replication.

Confronting the gaps

Third, we needed the study to take a hard look at the gap between the strength of the normative framework on women, peace and security, and the weaknesses of its implementation in practice.

This is evident in all of our interventions, from our mediation efforts and peace operations, to our financial support for recovery.

The study makes this case unequivocally.

Key data points

  • Only 2 per cent of aid to fragile States targets gender equality as a principal objective.
  • Only 3 per cent of our military peacekeepers are women.
  • Still in 2015, half of our peace agreements are completely gender blind.
  • And less than 20 per cent of UN Resident Coordinators in conflict and post-conflict settings are women.

Fully consultative and representative

Fourth, we envisioned that the study would be more than words and numbers on paper, but a way of reconnecting with the women’s movement and the growing number of academics that specialize in this area.

The study held consultations all over the world and received inputs from hundreds of people and organizations.

It is their insights and energy we must feed from in order to step up our implementation of 1325.

The study must be followed by action

And finally, but most importantly, the time for study and reflection should be followed by concrete commitments, resources, political will and greater accountability at all levels.

We have accumulated a long list of recommendations over the years.

But these are rarely put into practice because we are often lacking incentives or accountability measures to nudge all actors into living up to their promises.

The UN cannot always enforce what it says, but it does have powerful tools that are too rarely used to advance the women, peace and security agenda.

New ideas

The study proposes a number of ideas for improvement relating to areas such as:

  • Sanctions regimes and the reimbursement of troop-contributing countries for peacekeeping operations,
  • the allocation of funds for peacebuilding and recovery, or supporting countries to counter violent extremism,
  • or decisions about who we hire and promote in the United Nations.

A roadmap and a call to step it up

What emerges is an explicit and ambitious roadmap for the way forward on women, peace and security.

As the coordination lead in the UN system on women, peace and security, UN Women has a responsibility to help turn the words of 1325 into action and positive results.

This has been a central pillar of our work since we were created five years ago, and we have been making progress every year.

But we share with the women’s movement the sense of urgency that much more is needed to bring about real change and we have sent out a universal call to “step it up” for gender equality.

Less than three weeks ago we commemorated 20 years of the World Conference on Women in Beijing—itself a foundation of women, peace and security—with an unprecedented, historic gathering of 72 Heads and State and Government.

UN Women is stepping up its efforts on women, peace and security too, from headquarters to the field.

Our heartfelt thanks to Radhika Coomaraswamy, to the study’s illustrious advisory board, and to everyone who contributed to this achievement.

You can trust us to make good use of it.

I hope you will take its findings to heart, and join us in making this the year when the status of women in peace and security changed, for good.