Remarks at a High-Level Meeting on Women, Peace, and Security: The Next 15 Years and Beyond
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Thank you Deputy Prime Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah and Baroness Anelay for convening us here today.
Fifteen years ago this October, Resolution 1325 made it clear that we cannot achieve lasting international peace and security without the full participation of women. By emphasizing that women are not just victims in conflict, but essential leaders in its prevention and resolution, Resolution 1325 fundamentally shifted how the international community thinks about peace and security.
The Resolution called on the UN and member states to take a range of steps, from involving more women as participants in decision-making about peace and security, to taking special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, empowering women in conflict prevention and resolution efforts, and ensuring that women share in relief and recovery efforts following international crises. These four pillars -- Participation, Protection, Prevention, and Recovery and Relief, have guided global efforts since.
And there has been considerable progress over the last 15 years. More than 50 countries -- including the United States -- have developed National Actions Plans consistent with the goals of Resolution 1325.
The United States has also taken part in the Call to Action to Protect Women and Girl in Emergencies -- an initiative to strengthen our response to gender based violence at the outset of humanitarian crises. For those who haven’t yet joined in this effort, I encourage you all to do so. This is one way to help drive progress ahead of the High-level Review at the UN Security Council next month.
There, we will have an opportunity to take stock of our progress in advancing the goals of Resolution 1325, but more importantly, to chart an ambitious path forward to sustain this momentum.
As we think about the next 15 years of Resolution 1325, we need to consider how it should adapt for the challenges of today and tomorrow. That will require creative and long-term thinking on our part.
For example, how can we mobilize women to address ISIL’s systematic use of sexual violence as an instrument of war? Also, how can we involve women in the broader struggle against violent extremism? As the world rallies behind a more preventive, “whole-of-society” effort to reverse the growth of violent extremist groups, women must play a leading role. No holistic approach can succeed without the perspectives and talent of half the population.
Yesterday at the Leaders’ Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism hosted by President Obama, Malika Dodoeva spoke about how women in her home country of Tajikistan have helped strengthen relations between their communities and law enforcement to reduce the tensions violent extremist groups often exploit.
Here in the U.S., women have partnered with law enforcement to protect their children by learning to better identify and address signs of radicalization to violence. Initiatives like these represent a new application for Resolution 1325 in empowering women in matters of peace and security.
We have also seen how women can offer powerful contributions to making and keeping the peace -- from participating in negotiations over ceasefires and peace accords, to monitoring the implementation of peace process frameworks, designing processes for transitional justice and accountability, to providing support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Too often, peace accords are negotiated between small groups of armed combatants who are overwhelmingly male. Including women can enlarge the scope of negotiations to address other social needs that may have otherwise been neglected. In doing so, women can help strengthen the accord into a foundation for lasting and just peace.
Women can also broaden how these negotiations define security. Instead of viewing it simply an end to fighting, it could encompass living without fear of violence or sexual assault. Such broader definitions can produce more widely-accepted and thus durable agreements.
These are just a few examples, but there is a growing body of evidence that empowering women in these processes yields better outcomes for society at large.
It can also produce other unexpected benefits. For example, at the height of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone last year, a group of women who had participated in a U.S.-funded leadership program took the initiative to conduct public outreach programs to combat misconceptions about the disease. They produced a set of recommendations outlining the critical role of communities, including women, in crisis response. These recommendations were then adopted by the Government of Sierra Leone as standard operating procedures for confronting Ebola.
Though we are encouraged by the progress over the last 15 years in advancing Resolution 1325, no one at this table is satisfied with the status quo.
That is why the High-level Review next month is a critical opportunity to lay the foundation for actionable, sustained progress over the medium-term. So let us come to that meeting prepared not just to review our efforts to date, but to chart the way forward with creative ideas and concrete commitments.