United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting
Strengthening an integrated approach to peace and security in the Sahel through a gender lens: Launch of the Group of Friends of Women of the Sahel
Wednesday, 2 June | 1.15-4.15pm (EST) | Trusteeship Council Chamber
The UN Security Council held today an Arria-Formula Meeting on the role of women and girls in the development and stabilization of the Sahel region. We look into how to how to strengthen an integrated approach to peace and security in the Sahel through a gender lens.
The meeting was chaired by Niger, in coordination with Chad, Mali, and Mauritania, as well as the African Union and the European Union. It was co-sponsored by 12 of the 15 members of the Security Council which I believe sets a record and is a clear indication of Member states’ commitment to support the Sahel, with women as central actors in this march towards prosperity and stability.
Presentations by high-level briefers, including UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Civil Society leader Nana Aïcha Cissé, highlighted the important contributions of women of the region as well as the challenges they continue to face in terms of participation. There was broad agreement among participants on the need to step up efforts to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful representation in order to enhance the effectiveness of peacebuilding efforts and humanitarian action.
The full, equal and meaningful participation of women, at all levels, is an essential element for sustainable peace, conflict prevention and economic development. It is also a question of justice and equity.
No society can possibly hope to prosper, today in the 21st century, if it systematically excludes half of a population. If peace is a collective issue, why should it be discussed and consolidated without women?
The major challenges that affect the Sahel, from insecurity, the impact of climate change, or economic development challenges, have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, and amplify existing inequalities. If women and girls are the first victims of humanitarian crises, insecurity, and other disasters, they are also at the origin of major changes and often are first responders.
I, therefore, remain optimistic about the future of the Sahel and the crucial role of women in this shared future. When we exclude women, particularly the youth, we silence them and overlook new ways of tackling seemingly intractable challenges. We believe in the critical role of education for all, particularly for girls in conflict zones, as a fundamental right but also as a pillar of conflict prevention and a way to ensure women build the capital to take their rightful space in decision-making and leadership.
As a concrete outcome of the discussion, a new Group of Friends of Women of the Sahel was created. Co-chaired by Niger, the African Union and the European Union, the Group of Friends will inform the discourse, policy, and practice on and in the Sahel by facilitating exchanges with women of the Sahel and promoting their participation in all relevant processes. An advisory leadership board, comprising UN Women, UNISS, G5 Sahel, the World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA, women’s organizations from the region, as well Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and France, will support the Group of Friends.
The Group includes 38 founding members, who officially joined the initiative today.