30 November 2012 – Top United Nations officials today highlighted the
invaluable role of women’s organizations and civil society groups in preventing
violence and resolving conflict, stressing that their contributions are vital to
building a peaceful world and must be further supported.
“We need to ensure that women have opportunities to play their full role in
peace and security,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality
and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women),
told a debate of the Security Council on women and peace and security.
She noted that wherever there is conflict, whether in Mali, Syria, the Middle
East, or the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), “women must be part
of the solution.”
Today’s debate, which was originally scheduled for late October but was
postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, marks the 12th anniversary of Security Council
resolution 1325, which called for women’s engagement in conflict resolution and
Meeting briefly in the wake of the storm, the Council issued a presidential
statement on the issue, in which it called on the international community to
give women’s civil society organizations a prominent role in the negotiation,
planning and implementation of peace processes and post-conflict development
In his annual report on women, peace and security,
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted measures
that have improved coordination and accountability and highlights a growing
number of inspiring examples of women, peace and security in action.
In countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Timor-Leste, Haiti, South Sudan, Liberia,
Nepal and many others, women are leading innovative approaches to prevent
conflict and violence and build peace in their communities.
Ms. Bachelet, who presented the report, highlighted what women’s groups in
Mali are doing right now to contribute to non-violent solutions to the crisis in
that country, which has been divided since rebels took control of the north
earlier this year.
“In spite of their absence from official conflict resolution processes, women
leaders in the North are using informal channels to call on the leaders of armed
groups to participate in peace dialogues,” she noted.
“Just two weeks ago,” she added, “nearly 1,000 women leaders and members of
civil society groups gathered in Bamako and delivered a common call for peace,
expressing solidarity across ethnic and other divisions and recommended specific
measures to protect women’s rights and prevent violence against women and
Stressing the importance of “going the extra mile” to ensure that women can
play their full role, Ms. Bachelet called on world leaders to provide determined
leadership, dedicated resources and direct opportunities to enable women to
contribute to the maintenance of peace and security.
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, delivering
behalf of Mr. Ban, noted that the role of women’s organizations across the world
in preventing violence, resolving conflict and building the foundations for
peace is well known.
“Our challenge is to become more systematic in supporting and scaling up
these initiatives and making the necessary links to formal peace processes,” he
Also highlighting the case of Mali, Mr. Eliasson noted the fact that the
rights of women and girls are being curtailed in the northern part of the
country shows how armed conflict affects women and men differently. “This means
that women have to be part of the solution,” he said.
“Engaging women and promoting gender equality as part of our work for peace
and security is a daily responsibility and an unfinished mission for all of us,”
he added. “It is time for us to finally recognize the role and power of women to
help us build a peaceful world.”
In his remarks to the event, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations, Hervé Ladsous, said that UN peacekeeping missions have supported
important progress in some areas, notably women’s political participation at
local and national levels. In other areas, including the protection of women
activists, more could be achieved.
He described how, a week ago, some 5,000 women flooded the main commercial
avenue in Kinshasa, DRC’s capital, to protest the fall of the provincial city of
Goma to the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group – the most massively organized
non-violent protest in the country following the fall of the eastern city.
“However, women have not been given any political leverage in the regional
negotiations aimed at bringing peace to the embattled eastern part of the
country,” he added.
Mr. Ladsous emphasized that the key to removing the obstacles that impede
women’s full participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is the
active, systematic consultation with local actors and leaders, including women’s
civil society organizations. “This is the only way to develop effective,
context-specific and gender-aware solutions.”
In the lead-up to the Council’s debate, women activists and women’s
organizations met with senior UN leadership in over 20 countries, facilitated by
UN Women, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of
Political Affairs (DPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP),
to discuss challenges and make their recommendations on issues relating to women
and peace and security.