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Arria: Participation of Women in UN-Led Peace Processes

Statement by Permanent Representative Mona Juul at the Arria Formular Meeting ‘Call to Lead by Example: Ensuring the Full, Equal and Meaningful Participation of Women in UN-Led Peace Processes’, 8 March, 2021.

I want to thank Ireland and the briefers for setting the stage for today’s discussions.

20 years after the adoption of resolution 1325, we are still here, discussing targeted initiatives to include women- fully, equally, and meaningfully in peace processes.

Women have the right to participate in decisions concerning their future.

Yet there remains a disturbing mismatch between the commitments made in statements and resolutions, and the realities on the ground.

This shows a lack of resolve. And it has been proven to make our peace and security efforts less effective, and sustainable.

In response, we see three areas where the UN can lead by example:

First: leveling the playing field from the outset.

We must leverage in-house expertise. Including UN gender advisors, protection officers, and making full use of the convening power of UN Women and their networks. Along with prioritising early outreach to diverse women mediators and human rights defenders, including youth. Incorporating their priorities into the design of peace and political processes; and ensuring their continued involvement in the implementation phase, monitoring mechanisms, constitutional and security sector reforms, as well as DDR efforts.

Second: learning from past experiences.

Noteworthy inclusion mechanisms have evolved in the past few years, such as the sub-committee on gender in the Colombia process, the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board and Civil Society Support Room. These complement- rather than replace- the direct influence of women in formal processes. We must build on these experiences and engage with diverse practitioners, like the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediators Networks- utilizing their competence and experience. We must also seek synergies in all aspects of the UN’s work: in supporting national action plans, local peace committees, good governance and PVE. We know that inclusion is difficult. It requires creativity and steadfast commitment; together with political will and ownership by the parties. But we can build on what we have learnt.

Finally: creating a safe and enabling environment.

Not only must we insist on women’s right to participate in all aspects and phases of peace and security efforts, but we must also ensure they can do so safely. Harassment, threats, and violence against women peacebuilders and human rights defenders have only been increasing.

In closing, let me send a message to fellow women peacebuilders and echo a South Sudanese female poet, Minagano Kape:

Choose to challenge in small spaces.

Choose to challenge in big spaces.

Choose to challenge in any space you find yourself in; it will surely make a difference.

We are here today because of generations of women who dared to challenge.

Thank you and have a full, equal, and meaningful International Women’s Day.