Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the General Assembly side event “Rebuilding Shattered Lives and Communities: Chibok and Yezidi Girls and Women”, in New York today:
I am honoured to be with you today for this important event. I thank the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the co-sponsors, Canada, Denmark, Iraq, Nigeria and the European Union, for bringing us together to focus on the urgent challenge of rebuilding shattered lives and communities.
Chibok and Yezidi girls and women have undergone horrific human rights violations at the hands of violent extremists. These atrocities, such as sexual and gender-based violence, require immediate and compassionate care and comprehensive services.
The United Nations Population Fund, together with the Governments of Nigeria and Iraq and other partners, are working to improve sexual and reproductive health, provide psychosocial support, empower women and girls and prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
Chibok and Yezidi girls and women are not only survivors of violence. They are a testament to the failure of the international community to prevent violent extremism and to address the root causes of conflict.
The best means of prevention is inclusive and sustainable development. By investing in basic services and in equitable societies, we [are] laying the foundations for rebuilding, resilience and recovery.
Sustainable development and sustaining peace are mutually reinforcing. This truth lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and its promise to leave no one behind and reach the furthest behind first.
One priority must be education — especially for girls. Nigeria, in particular, has an education crisis. It has the highest illiteracy rate in the world, and two thirds are women and girls. The problem is particularly acute in north-east Nigeria due to conflict, which has displaced some 2.5 million people, over half of whom are children. And, since the beginning of the conflict, some 600 teachers have been killed, 19,000 displaced and 1,200 schools damaged or destroyed. Access to education will be critical in rebuilding.
All United Nations agencies must join forces to address this, and all the needs and rights of women and girls. Today we reaffirm our commitment to UN system-wide coherence so communities can be assisted quicker and better and with greater national ownership.
I thank all Governments and partners that have come here today in solidarity, and for your continued efforts to support field-level action that addresses the urgent needs of Chibok and Yezidi girls and women. Our efforts to magnify their voices and their stories, and ensure their health, justice and rights, is an investment in our collective future.