Statement by H.E Mme Bineta DIOP
Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace and Security
UN SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
NEW YORK, 21 OCTOBER 2021
Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya,
Mr. António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ambassador Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women,
Distinguished Members of the UN Security Council and Civil Society Representatives,
Please allow me first and foremost to congratulate Kenya, on the Presidency of the Security Council and thank you for convening this Open Debate on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, in commemoration of the 21st anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325.
Twenty-one years after 1325 passed, much progress has been made but conflict and its impact on women and girls continues and may in fact be increasing. We have seen it most recently in Afghanistan, in the Sahel region and in countries such as Mozambique, Ethiopia and Somalia, women and girls are at heightened risk of sexual violence, as well as loss of already precarious livelihoods. In West Africa, several countries are undergoing transitions. Will women be afforded an opportunity for women’s meaningful participation and representation? The evidence is clear - women’s participation in peace negotiations, peacebuilding and post conflict recovery, is not only a matter of justice and rights – it has a direct benefit for the success and sustainability of those processes.
In September of this year, the AU Commission released the Chairperson’s second report on the Continental Result Framework (CRF) on Women Peace and Security. The report presents the status of the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa. I would like to focus my messages on the findings from the report that align with this year’s Open Debate theme of “Investing in Women in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding” and the SG’s WPS Report, by speaking on two pertinent issues, investing in local women peacebuilders and the implementation of National Action Plans.
The history of conflict and peace in Africa has many examples in which local women have played a critical role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Yet, their actions have not been followed by sustained investment. Two notable examples are:
1. In 2003, the Mano River Women Peace Network (MARWOPNET) was recognized by the UNGA with the Human Rights Prize. Despite that recognition, the Network has largely gone unfunded.
2. With my sister DSG Amina J Mohamed, we have visited Mali, Niger, Eastern Congo, South Sudan, Somalia - In all these countries women peacebuilders are struggling using their limited resources.
Allow me to also underscore the need to raise our concern on the Women Human Right Defenders (WHRDs) and Peacebuilders who are at constant risk of reprisals, and intimidation, and are being denied their freedom of speech and expression. Nevertheless, they are key actors in driving the change we would like to see in the WPS Agenda. These examples serve to reinforce that the systematic integration and resourcing of women and their leadership role in collective peace, mediation and development efforts must be increased and prioritized. Investing in women’s initiatives is the most efficient way to counter threats and conflict.
Africa has the most robust frameworks for the advancement of the WPS agenda. The African continent also leads globally in the development of NAPs amounting to 54.5% of the NAPs globally as of 20 December 2020. Despite the existence of strong, progressive and articulated continental policies, women and girls continue to bear the brunt of conflicts in our continent.
The AU’s CRF 2020 report shows that most of the WPS frameworks and NAPs in Africa are not translated into national development plans and budgets and are still largely dependent on external funding for implementation. The UN Secretary General’s recommendation for the allocation of 15% of all development funds to activities that aim at bringing gender equality and women’s empowerment is yet to be achieved. The increase in military expenditure has come at the expense of investments in human security, with negative repercussions on women and girls especially during the Covid -19 Pandemic. Efforts have been made to increase the number of women peacekeepers, case in point, Kenya, Ethiopia. We welcome this. However, my recent visit in Somalia has demonstrated the need to better equip women peacekeepers with the necessary tools and allow them to pursue leadership roles in field operations.
As I conclude, I wish to submit few recommendations for the kind consideration of this Council:
1. It is imperative to create flexible funding mechanisms to support women’s peacebuilding initiatives.
2. Ownership and coherent implementation of the development, humanitarian and peace agendas enshrined in Agenda 2063, the SDGs, and the Generation Equality will address some of the root causes of conflict;
3. We must leverage existing platforms such as the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and FemWise Africa to enhance women’s participation and representation in mediation and governance mechanisms;
4. We must accelerate gender reforms of national defense and security forces to ensure women’s meaningful participation, leadership and deployment to peacekeeping missions;
5. Finally, we welcome the Photoville travelling exhibition that will build bridges between the peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions and their host communities.
I thank you for your kind attention.