Statement by H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
at the Security Council 8989th Meeting:
Advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda through partnerships:
Women's economic inclusion and participation as a key to building peace
Permit me the honor to extend Sri Lanka’s good wishes to the United Arab Emirates on being the Chair of the Security Council for the month of March, and extend my appreciation for convening this debate which aims to bring focus to the role that women would play in advancing the Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.
When the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1325 in 2000, it sent a clear message to the global community that international peace and security would not be genuinely achieved if women and girls were left out of the peace agenda. The WPS agenda confirmed the role of women’s participation in bringing to an end the cycle of armed conflict. Today's topic is very apt in that it considers how women's economic empowerment interplays between the ‘participation and prevention’ pillars of the WPS agenda.
Although significant strides have been made in executing the WPS agenda in its 22 years, there exists a missing link, a tangible concrete connection between public and private enterprises, especially those working in conflict and post conflict environments to converge with the aims of the WPS agenda on women's economic inclusion. What we are seeing are siloed business worlds; one world where businesses are increasingly adopting an employment policy that is viewed through a gender lens thereby committing to CSR initiatives of gender equality, and another world where UN and WPS supported corporate initiatives like ‘Business for Peace’ and the ‘UN Global Compact’ aim to drive businesses in conflict zones.
You will appreciate that secondly, The Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum makes the claim that female-founded businesses deliver higher revenue—more than twice as much per dollar invested than their male led businesses. Secondly, makes the claim that bridging the gender gap would add upwards of US$4.0 trillion to the global GDP. Conflict affected economies are the most affected due to lack of foreign investment, mass emigration, skill loss, all which underscores a need for GDP growth. These numbers support the case for women's participation in businesses, and it is these numbers and data advocating for women's inclusion in businesses, especially in conflict zones, that need to be highlighted.
Although important strides have been made since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, women’s direct participation and representation in formal peace processes continues to be the one area that lags behind in the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Between 1992 and 2019, women served as only 6 per cent of mediators, 6 per cent of signatories and 13 per cent of negotiators globally. The COVID-19 outbreak has shed even greater light on the full extent of gender inequality.
In this context, empowering women leaders to participate in peacebuilding becomes} increasingly crucial. Women who participate in peace processes tend to represent broader and more diverse constituencies, ensuring a range of views and interests are represented and peace processes are fully democratized.
I’m compelled to ask the question which I have posed before isn't it surprising that although women are active in community peace building, they are almost completely absent from political negotiating tables? The exclusions from peace tables are notable, the examples are a matter of disappointing record. Shouldn't women then be present at negotiating tables? The answer simply is yes.
Firstly, because women are affected by conflict and thus by consequence of peace agreement. Secondly, related to the first point, women's inclusion in all stages of peace processes is crucial for inclusive social justice, and finally the presence of women makes a difference to the sorts of issues generally brought to the formal peace processes. One sees that inhibitive constraints upon women's involvement in decision making are enormous in all regions, but are particularly acute in conflict areas. A peace settlement Madam President is not merely about ending a war but also about establishing the conditions for a new, just, polity.
My second point is that womens absence from negotiating tables minimizes the possibility of inclusive just politics. Their relative absence from negotiating tables is significant because when they are present or participating in less formal negotiations they tend to induce different issues, and frequently women adopt different approaches to conflict resolution.
I cannot but wind up by recalling what the authors of the article ‘Women waging war’ published in Foreign Policy Magazine, May to June 2001 very pithily said, “allowing men who plan wars to plan peace they say is an irrational bad habit’. They suggest that whilst men come to the negotiating table directly from the war room or the battlefield women generally come from family care and civilian activism. Now Madam President I ask finally, isn't that something to think about?