Speech: “The women, peace and security agenda is a powerful tool”—Executive Director

Remarks by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Launch Event of Finland’s 1325 National Action Plan in Helsinki, Finland on 13 April.

Date: Friday, April 13, 2018

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Excellency, Mr. Timo Soini, Minster for Foreign Affairs;

Minister Elisabeth Rehn;

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is an honour to be part of this event. I congratulate Finland on launching its third national action plan (NAP) for the period 2018-2021. This is an important contribution to Finland’s rich history of supporting gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda.

The women, peace and security agenda is a powerful tool for moving from exclusionary to democratic decision-making, from gender inequality to gender justice, from conflict and violence to sustaining peace, and to building prosperous and stable societies.

We know that sexual and gender-based violence in conflict is widespread, and that women continue to be marginalized in peace and security processes. But there is mounting evidence that women’s participation in peace and security efforts contributes to more effective responses to today’s complex crises and that women play a critical but under-utilized role in preventing conflict and sustaining peace.

That is why the women, peace and security agenda—with its focus on women’s participation, security and empowerment in global efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts—remains a vital tool to build more peaceful and inclusive societies.

When women are included in peace processes there is a 20 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least two years and a 35 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years. But from 1990 – 2000, only 11 per cent of peace agreements included at least one reference to women. Out of the 504 agreements signed since the adoption of resolution 1325, only 27 per cent included references to women. In 2016, only 50 per cent of signed agreements contained gender-specific provisions, as compared to 70 per cent in 2015, and 50 per cent in 2014.

We welcome the comprehensive approach of Finland’s new NAP, which focuses on women’s participation in peace processes and a gender perspective in all mediation and transition processes; women’s effective role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding; the protection of women and girls during crises; and ensuring a gender responsive approach to security sector and crisis management.

NAPs have potential to address structural barriers and power relations that negatively impact women during conflict and prevent their full and equal participation in peace and security. They are key tools for transforming Security Council resolution 1325 into practical action. But they remain a ‘work in progress’ for many countries.

I commend Finland’s leadership in supporting several countries engaged in conflicts and transition in the preparation, development and implemen­tation of their national action plans. As of February 2018, 73 countries had adopted national action plans. Most recently, Jordan, Angola, Cameroun, El Salvador and Guatemala adopted NAPs for the first time. A number of NAPs, such as those in Bangladesh, Lebanon, Namibia and South Africa, are in development.

UN Women, through its country and regional offices, and the Peace and Security Section in New York, provides context-relevant expertise in the technical aspects of NAP development and implementation processes.

The 2015 Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) recalled the common elements that are essential to the development of a successful NAP. These include strong leadership and effective coordination, an inclusive design process, costing and allocated budgets for implementation, monitoring and evaluation and the flexibility to adapt to emerging situations.

In Jordan, UN Women was instrumental in supporting the development of the NAP and in advocating for its adoption through the regional initiatives supported by Finland. Jordan is the third country in the Arab region to adopt a NAP and first in the region to include prevention of violent extremism as a core pillar. It was developed in a participatory process with government ministries and civil society organizations and has already secured government commitments to co-financing.

Maintaining momentum and the engagement of key partners beyond the NAP design phase remains one of the key challenges to NAP implementation.

I call on Finland to champion the 1325 NAP development and implementation through knowledge generation, expertise and supporting technical assistance and accompaniment to conflict- affected countries that are developing NAPs of their own. We need you to be a global champion and leader. Finland has a unique contribution to make in terms of supporting the localization and fol­low-up of these Action Plans and the promotion of women’s human rights.

The women, peace and security agenda continues to expand its footprint on global policymaking. It is now an essential pillar in global affairs. But its advocates and champions are animated by the conviction that this is only the beginning. And I share this conviction.

The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder. The number of people who are determined to find new solutions to the human suffering caused by conflict is growing.

I look forward to continuing the work together with the Government of Finland on this agenda that unites us for peace, equality and inclusion.