24 October 2000

Press Release



With women and children accounting for over three quarters of the 40 million people around the world who have been displaced by conflict or human rights violations, the Security Council will meet, for the first time, to consider the needs of women in all the peacekeeping and peace-building operations of the United Nations, at an open discussion entitled "Women, Peace and Security", on Tuesday, 24 October.

This marks the first time in history that the Security Council has devoted a session entirely to a debate on women's experiences in conflict and post-conflict situations. The meeting has been sponsored by Namibia, which is presiding over the Council this month.

Armed conflicts have eroded the hard-won socio-economic and political gains women have made in recent decades. During and after conflicts, women are at risk as combatants routinely flaunt the international human rights and humanitarian standards that guarantee their protection. Now, there is growing realization that women have a hitherto ignored role to play as equal actors with men in peace negotiations, and preventive action and post-conflict restructuring.

One issue that will be addressed is women's participation in all aspects of peace and security operations. Peacekeeping operations have not always recognized the contribution that women's groups make to achieve and maintain peace. Women, more often than not, are not accorded a place at the peace talks.

On Tuesday, the day of the Security Council meeting, there will be a news briefing by Angela King, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, and Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in room S-226 from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Also participating in the briefing will be: Luz Mendez, General Coordinator for the National Union of Guatemalan Women and participant in the 1996 Guatemalan peace accords which ended 36 years of war; Faiza Jama Mohamed (Somalia), Director, Africa Office of Equality Now, Human Rights Advocate, Somalia; and Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika (Zambia), President of the Federation of African Women's Peace Networks and a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) African Women's Committee on Peace and Democracy.

- 2 - Note No. 5639 24 October 2000

For further information, please contact Micol Zarb, UNIFEM (212) 906-5463, or Dan Shepard, Department of Public Information, (212) 963-2191, fax (212) 963-1186, email, .

For media accreditation, please contact 963-5934/963-7164.

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