Speakers Call for Accelerated Progress in Women, Peace, Security Agenda, as Security Council Concludes Debate

More than 35 speakers today continued the call for accelerated progress towards women’s empowerment in conflict situations, as the Security Council concluded its open debate from last week on the women, peace and security agenda.

That 29 October meeting had started with several briefings, from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, as well as from the head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the African Union Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, and leaders of civil society organizations representing African women. It also saw the adoption of resolution 2492 (2019), which called for renewed commitment to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). (For background, see Press Release SC/13998.)

Today, delegations, noting the approaching twentieth anniversary of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), urged that progress at the international policy level be followed up by improvement of the situation on the ground and parity between the genders in staffing, echoing themes of the debate that began in that earlier meeting.

The time to act is now, the representative of the Czech Republic affirmed, noting the upcoming anniversary of the resolution. To accelerate progress, it was critical to ensure the physical security of women politicians, civic leaders and human rights defenders. Along with many other speakers in the debate, she also emphasized the importance of concrete progress in sexual and reproductive rights and she urged all States that have not yet done so to join the more than 80 Member States that operationalized national action plans for the resolution 1325 (2000) agenda.

Many speakers today also spoke of the need to ensure accountability for sexual violence in the context of conflict.

India’s representative, declaring it is time to walk the talk on the women, peace and security agenda, pointed out that violence perpetuated against women and girls by terrorists is rampant. Also highlighting the subjugation of women in public and private spheres in conflict zones, she said there must be more effective integration of women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes � including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts.

Liechtenstein’s representative welcomed long delayed progress being made in that arena, with the 2019 conviction of the former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. It is a milestone verdict, with sexual violence crimes committed against men held to the same standards as those committed against women, she said.

Mexico’s representative, along with others, emphasized the need for victim centred and comprehensive care to victims of sexual violence. He also noted he would have liked to see more progressive language in the resolution on the matter.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasized the importance of regional action in addition to national progress in protecting and empowering women. In that regard, she described the Women and Peace Registry, a compendium of female women leaders in the region with expertise in various aspects of peace processes.

Lebanon’s representative, pointing to recent protests in her country led by women to bring about a more democratic society with equal rights for all, stressed that women must empower themselves to become partners of men in all areas of life in order to realize the resolution 1325 (2000) agenda. Only women will chart the destiny of women, she said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Slovakia, Kenya, El Salvador, Fiji, Morocco, Croatia, Panama, Bangladesh, Romania, India, Greece, Djibouti, Montenegro, Estonia, Israel, Costa Rica, Iran, Spain, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Rwanda, Nepal, Malta, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Bahrain and Portugal.

Observers for the Holy See, State of Palestine and the League of Arab States also spoke.

The meeting began at 3 p.m. and ended at 5:55 p.m.

Statements

MICHAL MLYNA�R (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the discourse on women, peace and security has shifted significantly in the last two decades. By abandoning the perception of women as victims, the international community recognized their critical role as first responders, agents of change and reconstructors of shattered communities. However, women remain the target of sexual and gender based violence, with rape still serving its historical function as a tool to punish, terrorize and destroy populations. Over 50 parties to conflict are currently suspected of having committed or instigated rape or other forms of sexual violence and at least 1 in 5 refugees and displaced women have experienced sexual violence. Outlining Slovakia’s progress in preparing its own national action plan on women, peace and security, he emphasized that protection from gender based violence is inseparable from women’s meaningful participation, bodily autonomy and rights.

Mr. OCHOA (Mexico), stating that his country has an explicitly feminist foreign policy, called it inconceivable that there still are doubts between the importance of the resolution 1325 (2000) agenda and successful peacemaking. His country intends to sponsor a forum to examine the gap between aspirations and reality in the agenda. Women must be guaranteed the right to participate significantly in all peace processes; he expressed hope that the required percentage of women in the Syrian Constitutional Committee will make that body more effective. In addition, he called for greater efforts to protect women against violence and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable. It was also crucial that victim centred care be delivered to those that have been abused, including a response to their sexual and reproductive health needs, on which he said he would have liked to see more progressive language in the resolution. His country deploys 15 per cent women in its peacekeeping contingents and plans to improve its performance in that regard. He pledged Mexico’s intention to push forward the entire agenda if elected as a non permanent member of the Security Council.

LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya), noting that women have proved to be informed and efficient agents of change through their role as mediators, negotiators and signatories of peace agreements, reaffirmed his country’s mantra: Kuhusisha Wanawake ni Kudumisha Amani (To involve women is to sustain peace). Kenya is one of the 23 African countries to develop a national action plan on Council resolution 1325 (2000), he said, and in its initial implementation phase, that plan has resulted in more gender responsive language and messaging among leaders and law enforcement. It is critical to build trust, identify champions, allocate resources and strengthen the monitoring and evaluation system, he said.

DAVID PAUL CHARTERS, observer for the Holy See, said much more remains to be done to increase women’s representation in the sphere of peace and security. In conflict situations, women � who are seldom the cause or the perpetrators of violence � are nevertheless often the first to be victimized. Calling for all perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict to be brought to justice, he said widespread impunity for such crimes must be addressed. We must never forget that women are not only victims, he said, spotlighting their essential and irreplaceable role as protagonists in the promotion of peace and reconciliation at the grass roots level. Their uniquely feminine sense for the pulse of difficult situations makes [women] capable of expressing concerns and aspirations of communities in ways that complement and improve upon the contributions that may be made by men, he said.

MARIE CHATARDOVA� (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that practical implementation of the resolution 1325 (200) agenda both domestically and abroad is crucial in achieving real life change. Under its second national action plan, her country has been able to reach 37 per cent deployment of women in peacekeeping missions and applied lessons learned to strengthening accountability and monitoring of progress. For further progress worldwide, she stressed the critical importance of ensuring the physical security of women politicians, civic leaders and human rights defenders, and emphasized that sexual and reproductive health and rights must be ensured through concrete action on the ground. She urged all States that have not yet done so to join the more than 80 Member States that operationalized action plans for the women, peace and security agenda. The time to act is now, she said.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZA�LEZ LA�PEZ (El Salvador), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, stressed that females are active agents of peace and at the vanguard of conflict prevention efforts. El Salvador learned from its own civil conflict and reconciliation process that we must go beyond the simple token presence of women in peace and reconciliation. Only by truly taking their opinions on board will peace processes be rendered durable in the long term. Outlining El Salvador’s national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), she said it is also providing gender related training to its troops deployed to protect both national and international security. Building on the recent changes in the Government, El Salvador is also in the process of launching an inclusive dialogue to update that national action plan. Among other things, she advocated for the creation of more spaces within the United Nations for countries to share best practices and lessons learned, which would help them knit together regional frameworks in that arena.

SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji) said that, in his briefing to the Council, the Secretary General cited alarming levels of political violence targeting women in conflict affected areas as well as an alarming increase in conflict related sexual violence. Noting that less than 0.2 per cent of all bilateral assistance in fragile States is targeted to women and girls’ organizations, he stressed that the rhetoric and implementation gap is heart wrenching. Meanwhile, the United Nations itself is facing a widening trust deficit, with both trends fuelling a cynicism in the Organization’s commitment to the women, peace and security agenda. We ignore these at our own peril, he said, noting that conflicts are becoming more global and more intense. More and more of the United Nations peacekeeping interventions are in areas of the world exposed to the climate crisis and more are triggered or intensified by its impacts. The women, peace and security agenda will increasingly need to be a climate crisis informed one, he said, adding: It is not so today.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), noting the gaps in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), said that intensified efforts in conflict prevention are needed to make further progress through early warning procedures that integrate the agenda. His country is participating in the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network, Network of Women Mediators and many others and is sponsoring forums and training in women’s roles in preventing radicalization. Noting that his country’s contribution to peacekeeping has increased women’s participation in many areas, he announced that the country is on the verge of releasing its national action plan on the issue.

ANDREJ DOGAN (Croatia), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, recalled his country’s experience of war and post conflict recovery in the 1990s and said that females not only bear a disproportionate burden during a conflict, but also play an indispensable role in ending wars, peacebuilding and post conflict management. Croatia’s national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) has contributed to the increased participation and leadership of females in national security forces and international missions and operations, which exceeds United Nations recommendations for women’s participation in peacekeeping operations. Emphasizing that prevention of widespread or systematic sexual and gender based violence begins in times of peace, he called for improved cooperation between the women, peace and security agenda and various United Nations mandate holders. Spotlighting the tallest monument in the United Nations garden of a female on horseback leading peoples of the world towards peace, he said civil society, Member States, women and men must join forces to follow her symbolic lead.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said significant progress has been made in pushing forward the Council’s women, peace and security agenda, but implementation remains uneven and challenges persist. Warning countries not to be tacitly complicit in the ongoing violations being committed against females around the world, she called on them to elevate the voices of women in the prevention of conflict and the promotion of peace. Maintaining open spaces for those voices is critical for the maintenance of any democratic process, of which inclusion and inequality are bedrocks. Underlining the need to strengthen the protection resources available to States, she said conflicts often serve as a cover for unleashing rape and other violations against women. States bear the responsibility to address such crimes, she stressed, urging them to draw up and enact national action plans � which are all the more urgent when the losses resulting from inaction are measured in human lives.

GOLAM FARUK KHANDAKAR (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, recalled that his country played a key role in the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000). The United Nations, Member States and the Security Council can all facilitate the actions recommended by the Secretary General in his recent report � including boosting accountability, improving the meaningful participation of women and addressing human rights violations. The Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace calls for empowerment of people � particularly women and young people � a goal which is clearly aligned with the women, peace and security agenda. Spotlighting the growing contribution of Bangladesh’s female peacekeepers, he also drew attention to the devastating accounts of rape, sexual violence and abuse against Rohingya women and girls when they fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017. Council members should take decisive action on that matter, and it should feature prominently in the organ’s future deliberations, he said.

ION JINGA (Romania), aligning himself with the European Union, voiced concern about the rising levels of violent misogyny, use of sexual and gender based violence as weapons of war, and the lack of justice and support for the survivors of such violence. His country integrates gender considerations into all aspects of national security and stability. Romania’s defense ministry has taken the lead in promoting the agenda at the national level by creating a gender management office which is responsible for coordinating the development of the national action plan with all relevant stakeholders. Women peacekeepers play an indispensable role in sustaining peace in conflict zones, he said, highlighting the Female Engagement Teams that Romania provided to the Mission in Afghanistan. They were able to regularly interact with local women, building trust and confidence in a very complex environment, he noted.

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India) said it is time to walk the talk on the women, peace and security agenda. Regional initiatives, including the African Women Leader’s Network, ensure that women are at the forefront of building peaceful societies, she said, also spotlighting the valiant leadership of Afghan women in bringing peace to their communities. However, violence perpetuated against women and girls by terrorists remains rampant and the subjugation of women in public and private spheres continues across the situations on the Council’s agenda. There must be more effective integration of women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes � including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts. Through the Secretary General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, Member States have committed to implementing the women, peace and security agenda through an increased number of civilian and uniformed women in peacekeeping. In that regard, she warned against giving mixed units preference � by diluting policy frameworks � in order to accommodate those who cannot fulfil the commitment of providing all women units.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said she regretted that the situation remains critical almost 20 years after the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000). Not only do women continue to be underrepresented in decision making in areas such as arms control or disarmament, but they continue to be the main victims of gender and sexual violence in armed conflicts, including rape as a weapon of war. She underlined the urgent need to consolidate the gender perspective in the implementation of the peace and security agenda. She went on to explain how Greece is currently drafting their national action plan on women, peace and security, focusing on the migrant and refugee crisis, enhancing equal participation of women in decision making and leadership and raising awareness of policymakers, public officials and the general public.

YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti) said that, well before the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), African women demonstrated great political leadership and articulated a powerful vision for women’s rights and gender equality. Stressing the importance of documenting their contribution, he recalled the Somalia National Peace Conference, held in Arta, Djibouti, which enabled the formation of the Transitional Government in Somalia. At the beginning of the year, the Government enacted a bill increasing the quota of Djiboutian women from 10 to 25 per cent in the National Assembly. Further, women represent 3 per cent of Djiboutian military personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. The country is considering measures to increase the number of women in future peacekeeping operations.

MILICA PEJANOVIC A�URISIC (Montenegro), aligning herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, observed that practical and institutional barriers continue to prevent women from fully and meaningfully participating in all peace processes. Calling for reinvigorated efforts to address persistent obstacles that cause failures with multigenerational consequences, she supported the recommendations in the Secretary General’s report. For its part, Montenegro has worked to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in the security sector. The Government’s second plan of action for implementing resolution 1325 (2000) aims to achieve three goals: increasing the participation of women in decision making and peacekeeping processes; protecting women and girls in conflict zones; and integrating gender perspectives and gender education in peacekeeping operations. Montenegro commits to address societal gender stereotypes and low interest among women in military professions, to fulfil United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union standards, and to effect reform and transformational change in the defence sector.

SVEN JARGENSON (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, agreed with other speakers that the divide between rhetoric and reality on women, peace and security remains stark. Calling for increased synergies between that agenda and that of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, he said the realization of all human rights for females � as well as ensuring gender equality � are also cornerstones of the women, peace and security framework. They both include ending gender based violence, including in the context of conflict. Outlining remaining challenges in that arena, he pledged that Estonia � as an incoming member of the Security Council � will continue to pay special attention to the women, peace and security agenda. He also called for more gender disaggregated data, as well as more gender analysis, expertise, leadership and accountability in implementing resolution 1325 (2000).

NOA FURMAN (Israel) emphasized the integral connections between achieving the women, peace and security agenda and realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Women, she said, have played a vital role in maintaining her country’s security since its birth, and a number of civil society organizations have been involved in prioritizing female political empowerment and changing societal perceptions around the world. The country also welcomes efforts at parity in leadership of the United Nations as a model for its efforts in conflict zones. She recognized, however, that gender expertise must be strengthened across the Organization. In addition, the culture of harassment and abuse must be seriously addressed. She welcomed increasing awareness in that regard. The international community must continue to work together to implement the agenda entirely, she said.

ANA LORENA VILLALOBOS BRENES (Costa Rica), noting gaps in achieving the women, peace and security agenda, said that the humanitarian aspect of protecting women must be addressed as well as the judicial. At the same time, she emphasized that the end of impunity is crucial, with greater access of women to justice needed. Efforts must be redoubled in women’s empowerment, running through all levels of decision making and all United Nations recruitment efforts. Discrimination against women and girls must be ensured to guarantee that they can be a part of peace efforts, she stressed.

CYNTHIA CHIDIAC (Lebanon) affirmed her country’s commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, stressing that females must be empowered to become partners of men in all areas of life to realize that agenda. In all such efforts, her country values the role of human rights defenders, she said. She added that it has recently seen protests led by women to bring about a democratic society that believes in the rights of all people, along with equal decision making between genders. Only women will determine the future of women, only women will chart the destiny of women, she said.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the most effective way to ensure the security of women in armed conflicts is to prevent their occurrence in the first place. Noting that females continue to suffer from a vicious cycle of armed conflict in the Middle East, he said the suffering of Palestinian women and girls will not end without an end to the foreign occupation of their land � what this Council should have achieved decades ago, but failed miserably. Noting that the organ’s inaction has resulted in death, detention, torture and displacement, he said it also further emboldens the occupiers and leaves millions of girls unheard and unattended. Meanwhile, terrorism and violent extremism have serious adverse effects on their lives. Genuine efforts are needed to protect women from such menaces, he said, adding that the devastating impacts of unilateral coercive measures make no distinction between men and women and violate the basic rights of both equally.

MARIA BASSOLS DELGADO (Spain), calling for concrete, measurable steps towards implementing the women, peace and security agenda, highlighted the recently launched Spanish Finnish initiative Commitment 2025, which contains specific commitments to accelerate the effective participation of women in peace and mediation processes. The initiative will submit recommendations in 2022 aimed at reducing the divide between rhetoric and reality, she said, encouraging other States to join. National action plans are also essential and, for its part, Spain is currently revising its second action plan that will draw on lessons learned from its own experience along with that of other States. She also noted the importance of education in promoting the social and economic empowerment of women. It is vital to forge synergies between the women, peace and security agenda and the Safe Schools Declaration. She urged other States to adopt the latter instrument to prevent attacks on access to education.

ESHETE TILAHUN WOLDEYES (Ethiopia) said that in the last 18 months, his country has taken a number of bold steps to increase the participation and representation of women in decision making. It not only has its first female Head of State, but women also head its Supreme Court and National Election Board. It has a new ministry led by a woman that has a specific mandate for peacebuilding and oversight of the country’s security sector. In addition, it has significantly increased the inclusion of women in leadership and decision making at different levels of Government and across public institutions. Its Constitution guarantees rights to land use and equal rights to property acquired during marriage. There can be no doubt that the world will be a more secure, peaceful and prosperous place if women are accorded full and equal rights and equal access to opportunities. Concrete steps need to be taken to ensure women’s full participation in national politics, their equal rights to economic resources and to ownership of land and other property, as well as access to credit and financial services.

ALAA ELSHEIKH (Sudan) pointed out that women galvanized protests, ensured their peaceful nature and participated in constitutional negotiations to establish a new transitional Government in her country. Four women hold ministerial positions in the new Government. There are two women in the Sovereignty Council of Sudan and a quota has been established to ensure that 40 per cent of the members of the Transitional Legislative Council are women. This demonstrates a clear political will to empower women and to ensure their participation in decision making, development and reconstruction. Further, the Constitutional Declaration calls for promoting women’s rights, equal wages and other labour benefits, combating discrimination against women and ensuring women’s participation in public life. The new Government also prioritizes combating violence against women and promoting human rights. Sudan is committed to implementing resolution 1325 (2000) by adopting a national action plan � currently under review � by the end of 2019, she added.

MONCEF BAATI (Tunisia), agreeing that it is time to accelerate the resolution 1325 (2000) agenda, said that empowerment of women is a pillar of his country, including in its contribution to peacekeeping. Recently a national action plan has been adopted through a consultation process in which women participated equally, in line with Tunisia’s efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. He also attached particular importance to training women to build capacity to help bring about sustainable peace and to prevent radicalization.

RAZIYE BILGE KOCYIGIT GRBA (Turkey) said that her country has placed gender equality at the heart of its foreign policy and therefore considers the increased use of the women, peace and security agenda, in all its four pillars, a critical tool for conflict prevention and resolution. Resolution 1325 (2000) established a normative framework for this, she said, adding that it has led to deeper awareness about the asymmetric impact of conflict on women. Turkey deploys multifaceted services to offer dignified living conditions for more than 3.5 million Syrians who took refuge there, she noted, adding that women health centres, established by the Ministry of Family, offer health training and comprehensive empowerment programmes for women and girls. Also voicing regret that the open debate platform has been abused to disseminate falsehoods about Turkey’s cross border counter terrorism operations, she said: We do not have any moral lessons to learn from those who refrained from doing their part in shouldering the refugee crisis.

BONIFACE RUTIKANGA (Rwanda) said political will of Member States and commitment of all parties to a conflict is critical to creating the necessary environment for meaningful women participation. The women, peace and security agenda should be central in all peacekeeping missions with protection of civilians’ mandates, he stressed, noting that such protection is the driver of Rwanda’s engagement in United Nations peacekeeping. He underscored the importance of raising awareness and building capacities of local communities, as they are the first line of response to conflict related sexual violence. Moreover, there is a need to reinforce protection of victims of sexual abuse in armed conflicts by providing medical care, psychosocial support and legal aid. Supporting countries in need with strengthening legal and policy framework that advances the rights of women and children is vital, he added, stressing the importance of prevention of sexual violence and holding perpetrators of such actions to account. Supporting women’s economic empowerment and capacity building to equip them with the skills necessary to their meaningful participation in peacebuilding and national building is essential, he asserted.

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said allowing women to be agents of change means ensuring that they can fully enjoy their rights and realize their potential. Calling on the Council to invite more female briefers � including from civil society � he said that Liechtenstein will continue to prioritize participation, prevention and protection in its international and humanitarian development. Gender inequality, including harmful stereotyping and abusive power dynamics, is the root cause of sexual and gender based violence. Accountability is an essential part of the fight against conflict related sexual violence. In that arena, the international criminal justice system has done ground breaking work. Indeed, earlier in 2019 the International Criminal Court found the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s former warlord Bosco Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a milestone verdict as sexual violence crimes committed against men were held to the same standards as those committed against women, he said.

AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal), affirming that much more needs to be done to implement resolution 1325 (2000), said that exclusion of women in many walks of life must be ended, including in decision making positions in peace processes. Sexual violence also must be ended. His country has recently finalized its second national action plan, building on its unique experience of women’s integral involvement in its own peace process, which the country is willing to share with others. As well, his country’s Constitution mandates 33 per cent of women’s participation in all legislative bodies and guarantees empowerment of women in all walks of national life. Nepal is committed to accelerating its journey to ensure women’s effective participation in all areas of life, he said, pledging that it will join hands with the international community to make the world safer and more prosperous through the contributions of women.

TERENCE SACCO (Malta), aligning himself with the European Union, said women and girls need to be involved in the decision-making process of peace and security issues as well as the prevention and protection from conflict-related violence. Violence against women and girls is exacerbated by the peace and security challenges facing the international community, including mass migration and displacement, rising violent extremism and terrorism and the proliferation of arms. It is important to ensure women and girls in conflict, post-conflict and fragile situations can equally participate in all the political, economic, security and social facets of their societies. Work is progressing since Malta announced its commitment to adopt its first national action plan on women, peace and security in April. Malta is playing its part in closing the implementation gap and fully supports the work of the United Nations on this issue, he said.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that it issued a joint statement in November 2017 on promoting women, peace and security in the Association which encourages the inclusion of that agenda item in policies and programmes for the protection of females. In September, ASEAN held a senior officials’ conference on gender mainstreaming in the bloc’s political security community sectoral bodies, she reported, explaining that the meeting was the third in a series aimed at mainstreaming gender across all three of the group’s community pillars. In 2018, her group established the Women and Peace Registry, which is a compendium of female leaders with expertise in various aspects of peace processes and reconciliations, she said.

VICTORIA M. SULIMANI (Sierra Leone), outlining national progress made in implementing the women, peace and security agenda, pointed out that her country was the fourth in its region to adopt a national action plan in that regard. The second generation of that plan now underscores the core values of prevention of violence, protection, participation and recovery, and tackles the root causes of conflict. Among other things, her Government enacted the Sexual Offenses Act of 2019, which includes elements of adequate penalties against perpetrators of rape and other forms of gender based violence. As a country that experienced a civil war in which sexual violence was used extensively and systematically, the issue of protection from abuse, exploitation and violence will remain a top priority for Sierra Leone’s agenda, she said, also citing women’s essential involvement in the country’s peacebuilding and post conflict development efforts.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said his country has a robust legal framework that ensures the rights of women, based on constitutionally enshrined principles as well as its ratification of all 18 United Nations human rights conventions. Ecuador has also made a full commitment to the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Noting that much remains to be done in his country to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women, he said the Government is pressing forward with relevant affirmative action measures and provides remedies for victims of sexual and gender based violence. The percentage of women in the country’s armed forces has grown steadily in recent years, and it is in the process of incorporating female personnel in its troops deployed to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said.

LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said that, to accelerate progress to implementing resolution 1325 (2000), societal norms and stereotypes that underpin gender inequalities must be countered through education, national dialogue and women’s participation in all sectors. In addition, pointing to military occupation of a large part of her country’s territory, she stressed the importance of protection of civilians in conflict situations. Attaching great importance to the empowerment of females as part of its prevention of conflict strategy, in addition, she said that barriers to women’s progress in all areas of life were being identified in order to overcome them. The country remains committed to advancing the rights of women and ensuring their full and effective participation in decision making processes, she said.

SAMSON S. ITEGBOJE (Nigeria) said the African Union has served as a useful platform for advancing the women, peace and security agenda on the continent, including by prioritizing the advancement of women and youth in its Agenda 2063. The bloc currently has over 14 instruments related to women, peace and security. At the subregional level, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the United Nations for West Africa, developed an integrated plan of action to implement resolution 1325 (2000). Among other things, it emphasizes the importance of women’s roles in conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding as well as the rebuilding of post conflict States. Outlining similar activities at the national level, he recalled that Nigeria launched a national action plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000) in 2013 and has since worked to push the agenda forward through prevention and disaster preparedness; protection of rights and prosecution for violations; participation and representation; crisis management; and partnerships and cooperation. He also outlined regional activities aimed at combating the ongoing threat of Boko Haram.

FEDA ABDELHADY-NASSER, observer for the State of Palestine, said it continues efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000), despite all obstacles, including the 52 year occupation affecting every dimension of life, with women disproportionately affected. Palestinian women continue to be exposed to all forms of violence and human rights violations under occupation. Since the start of the occupation, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested or detained under Israeli military orders. Palestinian women continue to be targeted by the occupying forces and extremist settlers who continue to cause injury to her people Palestinian civilians. Peaceful women demonstrators in the Great March of Return protests also continue to be targeted by the occupying forces. She called on the international community and the Council to bring an end to the prolonged conflict.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that his country is committed to strengthening cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies in supporting women and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Bahrain has recently inaugurated the office of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and has sought to promote the role of females in leadership and their presence as a priority in its national action plan. There have been many achievements by Bahrain’s women, including the election of the first speaker of Parliament. It also launched the Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Global Award for Women’s Empowerment, which recognizes institutional and individual efforts to promote women’s advancement and their participation in development. Furthermore, it established a gender parity committee to ensure providing women with equal opportunities in the labour market.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union and Canada on behalf of 56 Member States, said that his country is pleased with the achievements identified in the Secretary General’s report. But, as the report underlines, the women, peace and security agenda is still caught up by many challenges, including the growth of violent misogyny and the persistence of sexual and gender based violence as a weapon of war and terror. Portugal will continue to fight the threats against women’s and girl’s human rights worldwide and to support the efforts to strengthen them, especially in conflict and post conflict areas. Conflict also negatively affects the education of millions of children. In countries affected by conflict, the situation is extremely hard for all children, but girls are often left even further behind. Empowering women and girls through education is the best way to guarantee equal rights and full participation in society.

MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, welcomed progress made within the United Nations system and throughout his region in pushing forward the women, peace and security agenda. Those include the establishment of the Syrian Women Advisory Board, as well as women’s effective participation in that country’s newly convened Constitutional Committee. Outlining other strides made, he said gaps and challenges nevertheless exist in the Arab world, which undermine women’s effective participation in peace and security activities. To address them, leaders in 2015 adopted the Arab Women Protection Strategy and a related action plan � aimed at aligning regional policies with international standards � which focuses on women’s participation, protection and relief needs. Meanwhile, the first Arab Ministers Council on Women, Peace and Security � held in 2018 � led to the adoption of important relevant recommendations. Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and the State of Palestine have all committed to implementing resolution 1325 (2000) through national action plans, and other States in the region will follow suit, he said.

Source: United Nations