Chair, Foreign Ministers of the members of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, Distinguished delegates, Representatives of the United Nations;
It is an honour for me to address the Peacebuilding Commission on Women’s Economic Empowerment for Peacebuilding, which continues to do important work to promote gender equality in post-conflict countries.
Thank you Madam Chairman for convening this session to reaffirm our commitment to achieving sustainable peace through the economic empowerment of women. And thank you too to the other speakers today for their insightful points.
Women have an absolutely crucial role in building stability in post-conflict environments. But the sad fact is that women across the world continue to face significant barriers to successfully playing a full part in the peacebuilding process. The international community must work to overcome these barriers and makes considerations of the needs of women and girls, and their participation in peacebuilding the norm.
I welcome the adoption of a UN declaration calling upon the members of the Peacebuilding Commission to strengthen efforts to implement specific commitments to promote women’s empowerment.
Although there has been progress in this area, there is much more work to do to achieve gender equality and to ensure the needs of women in post-conflict countries are met, particularly in countries currently emerging from crisis such as Egypt. Women in post-conflict countries are still struggling to access education and public services, to secure justice and protection against violence and benefit from employment opportunities.
The UK is committed to tackling the barriers which hinder the inclusion of women in the peacebuilding process. The United Kindom’s National Action Plan for UNSCR 1325 embeds the role of women in peacebuilding throughout our defence, diplomatic and development activity. And the Foreign Secretary’s preventing sexual violence initiative (PSVI) is building political momentum to bring to an end sexual violence in conflict, which remains a ruthless and destructive weapon of war, and to shatter impunity for the perpetrators.
And I’m delighted that earlier this week the Foreign Secretary announced a PSVI Conference in 2014.
The UK is undertaking projects in a number of countries, including Afghanistan and Egypt, to support women’s economic empowerment. But while projects on-the-ground can influence the empowerment of individuals and communities directly, we also need to support activity which will institutionalise women’s participation in all conflict resolution and post-conflict planning.
And I hope today’s meeting will contribute to that.