I want to thank Kenya for today’s debate, and particularly for facilitating the participation of the broader membership. It is vital to the Council’s work that we hear from all voices. In this respect allow me also to thank Secretary-General Guterres, Executive Director Sima Bahous and Special Envoy Bineta Diop for their briefings. A special thanks also to Celia Umenza.
It is time to get serious about women’s participation. This year’s report highlights the trend of increasing global military spending. But if peace and security is our aim, we should invest more in women’s participation and protection- not as an end in itself, but as a prerequisite for peace and stability. Minister Omamo, you asked us to bring commitments today: Therefore, in our next national action plan for women, peace and security Norway will quadruple the target for funding in this field. But, addressing lack of funding alone is not enough.
Norway is present in more than fifty countries affected by conflict and crises. And we directly or indirectly support a number of peace processes. In every, single, one, we are deeply committed to women’s full and substantive participation. We set the bar high, but we can clear it only through close cooperation with the UN, civil society, and local communities. Conflicts and peace processes are prone to abrupt change.
Yet women peacebuilders always adapt – and we are committed to adapting our approaches with them.
For example: when the informal talks in South Sudan turned into revitalised peace talks, South Sudanese women demanded a seat at the table. This resulted in the inclusion of gender provisions and quotas in the final text. And today South Sudan has several women in key political positions. Our partners already had the capacity and competency.
What they needed was access – and our collective support to make it happen.
We particularly welcome Kenya’s emphasis today on investing in women peacebuilders and peacekeepers. They are truly key to advancing women’s direct participation in all aspects of peace and security. We remain committed to the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative. It guides our collective aim of increasing women’s participation in peace operations. It will make missions better reflect the population they serve, and increase their effectiveness. This is not only about numbers; it’s about ensuring that women, at all levels, have direct and substantive influence on implementation. We are equally committed to ensuring women’s participation in all aspects of the protection of civilians. This is critical to address the root causes of conflict.
We should never sacrifice women’s right to participate in the name of protection.
On the contrary, we should include them from the start- in the design of security measures, and responses. For example: in Colombia, Norway has committed to support the efforts of UN Women and the Ombudsman’s Office, to work directly with women’s organizations in enhancing early warning systems, and ensuring a gendered approach in implementing security measures. This is vital for women peacebuilders who have been risking their lives to defend central commitments of the Peace Agreement.
Even here in this Council. We heard just a year ago, at this very open debate, the Afghan civil society activist Zarqa Yaftali echoing the calls of many before her. For the international community to ensure that women’s rights and participation are not traded away for false promises of peace. A year later many strong female voices have had to flee in fear of the Taliban. And sadly Afghan women are not alone in this situation. The same calls for protection and participation are clearly heard from Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, just to mention just a few. Protection and participation are interlinked; they are mutually reinforcing; and require the strong commitment of the international community.
There have been numerous calls for a dedicated funding mechanisms for women human rights defenders working in crisis, conflict, and post conflict situations. And Norway is responding to this call. Today we’re making another commitment: to provide seed funding for a new mechanism by the “Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.”
Which will provide flexible funding to support women human rights defenders at risk - for both their participation and protection - not one at the cost of the other. We hope all of you will join us.