I would like to start by thanking:
- The High Commissioner for briefing the Council today and for providing the context for this important debate;
- Miss Yaftali for your strong intervention. It is very important for the Council to hear first-hand accounts such as yours;
- Miss Asoka for your coalition’s guidance on how we can improve the situation for women peacebuilders and human rights defenders;
- The more than 50 civil society experts who convened on the issue of reprisals last week. Your recommendations will be shared and guide our work going forward;
- And the Council members and broader UN membership – for engaging on this difficult topic.
While we might disagree on some areas, we all agree that women have a fundamental right to participate in peace and security. Not because women by nature carry some magical solution to end all wars or because we are so much more peaceful than men. But because women carry unique perspectives and experiences in their communities.
When women participate peace lasts longer. However, far too often taking part means becoming a target. Whenever women speak up, we risk more than men. And women peace builders and human rights defenders risks more than anyone. Where they should receive recognition, they get threats and violence instead.
This means that we must find better ways to strengthen our prevention and response measures. To protect and empower women, and promote and safeguard their right to participate.
With this in mind, Norway has three recommendations:
First, women’s participation must become the new normal. Participation is the long-term game changer. When women can directly influence decisions about peace and security, they shape protection measures that work for them, their families and communities.
Second, provide the resources needed to support women peacebuilders and human rights defenders at all levels of society. And ensure that relevant UN entities are set up to do the same.
Third, zero tolerance for threats and reprisals targeting women in peace and security processes, including engaging with this Council.
However, women will continue to participate despite the risks they face. We see this in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, Yemen, Mali and many other places. If the worst happens, we must ensure an adequate response. We should consider sanctions and other deterrent measures, and we must demand accountability.
Earlier today, Norway participated in the launch of a new funding mechanism that aims to provide protection. This is a safety net. It can provide assistance when needed. Too often women are told that security comes first, then women’s participation - resulting in neither participation, nor security.
It is a false trade off. If peace and security really is the aim, if protecting women is the aim – participation is the only way.
Therefore, we must protect participation.
I thank you.