|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, Receiving Appeal from Women of Central Asia, Says They Should
Have Peacebuilding Role as Decision Makers, Not Observers or Victims
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on receiving the appeal of Women of Central Asia on Women, Peace and Security, in Astana today, 30 November:
I am thankful for this appeal. I pledge to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.
Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) was a landmark in recognizing the central role of women in peace and security. Your commitment to this text is impressive and inspiring. I wish I could bring the whole Council here to see you; to see how determined you are to make this resolution a reality. But since I cannot bring the Council members to you, I promise to bring your perspective, your concerns and your ideas to them. And beyond that, I will convey the message of your appeal to the broader international community.
I do not underestimate what you have gone through and what it means for you to be here today. You have my pledge that I listen attentively, I really hear what you have to say. I am committed to bringing that message to the world.
Your voice is so important because you have witnessed the suffering caused by violence, terrorism, human trafficking and organized crime. You have seen the suffering and fear imposed on women and girls by unconscionable abuse — suffering that is exacerbated by impunity, by a lack of accountability for perpetrators. You also know something else: how difficult it is to establish peace.
For these reasons, and as a matter of fundamental human rights, you deserve a seat at the table. Women’s participation is not only a good in itself but an essential condition for sustainable peace and development. Addressing women’s needs is also key to preventing conflicts before tensions escalate. When we discuss how to prevent fighting, when we work to resolve conflicts, when we build peace, you should be there. Not as observers but as decision makers. Not as victims but as agents of change.
Like you, I am concerned about the possibility of rising extremism, human trafficking and violence against women in parts of Central Asia. You are absolutely right that we need greater awareness, funding and accountability. This is a message I will carry from the women of Central Asia.
The United Nations is committed to progress. This year marks the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000). We used the occasion to organize what we called “Open Days” on women, peace and security. We opened our doors to Governments, community leaders and others, in order to map the way forward.
Your contribution was extremely valuable, providing key suggestions for improving the United Nations’ work in the field. The recommendations you made are now part of a special United Nations publication. Not so it would sit in a library, but so it would be read far and wide. The publication is called Women Count for Peace. Its message is clear: the experience and life of each and every woman count.
In numerous meetings, including in Dushanbe, where women from across Central Asia met with my representatives, you raised concrete concerns that demand urgent responses. You asked for increased political empowerment for women at all levels of decision-making; you called for a more credible and effective justice and security environment for women; and you expressed the need for greater and more sustainable financial resources to support women recovering from abuses.
I read the proposals you made in Dushanbe with great interest. I was especially impressed by your idea of creating a “Women’s Peace Corps” for this region. You also called for a comprehensive roster of female professionals, including peace negotiators, psychologists and social workers, who can help in areas torn by conflict. This is an ambitious proposal but looking around the room I feel like you yourselves could start such a roster and generate a wave of progress that can reverberate across Central Asia.
Recently, as part of my report on women’s participation in peacebuilding, I presented the Security Council with a seven-point action plan to make sure that we give real meaning to every provision in resolution 1325 (2000). The plan outlines ways to improve the lives of women and girls who are suffering. It points the way towards ensuring that the rights of women and girls are understood to be a crucial part of the global security agenda. Violence against women and girls is a threat to everyone’s security. Unless we stop these abuses, we will never have lasting stability.
My action plan was endorsed by all United Nations entities so all senior United Nations officials are accountable for carrying it out. I specifically called for dedicating at least 15 per cent of all post-conflict peacebuilding funding to advancing gender equality and promoting women’s rights. I will keep pressing the Security Council to pay more attention to this and the broader concerns surrounding women, peace and security.
At the same time, we are working hard to make a difference on the ground in Central Asia. The United Nations is mobilizing to provide services to victims of violence, respond to the needs of women and girls, and empower youth, women and vulnerable communities across Central Asia.
The harsh reality is this challenge is not limited to Central Asia. Recently I recorded a series of radio announcements on violence against women. Some were meant for use in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But others are intended to be used in other conflict areas and wherever the problem exists — and sadly, that means everywhere. No country is immune from this problem; every country can and must do more to prevent violence against women.
In these announcements, I tell people to speak up and speak out. This is exactly what I tell Government leaders. This is what I say everywhere I go in this campaign, from refugee camps to palaces, from grass-roots groups to national assemblies. We all have a responsibility to end violence against women and to make women count for peace. You are leading the way here in Central Asia, and I pledge to do my part around the world.
* *** *For information media • not an official record