PRESS CONFERENCE ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
Speakers at a Headquarters press conference this morning praised Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), saying that it legitimized the role of women in peacemaking and that its faithful implementation could provide a solution to the problems faced by women in conflict situations.
Juan Gabriel Valdes, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, noted that women and children made up three quarters of the 40 million displaced people in conflict situations throughout the world. He said Chile and Denmark would organize a conference to build on the progress made on the issue of women, peace and security and to commemorate the second anniversary of the Security Council's adoption of resolution 1325 (2000).
Joining Mr. Valdes were Angelina Atyam from Uganda, Gila Svirsky from Israel and Vahida Nainar from India. The three activists, as well as Sabine Sabimbona from Burundi, who was not present today, will discuss “Women, Peace and Security” during the Security Council’s Arria Formula meeting on Friday to consider the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).
[The Council unanimously adopted resolution 1325 on 31 October 2000, affirming the need for accountability for war-time violence against women, and acknowledging for the first time that their contributions to peacemaking were often ignored and that women’s experiences in war differed sharply from those of men.]
Ms. Atyam said that her 14-year-old daughter had been abducted by rebels from her northern Uganda school in 1996 and remained in captivity. She was one of 137 girls abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who had seized a total of 14,000 children and caused the displacement of 2 million people in a conflict waged over the past 17 years with little or no international attention. The situation was exacerbated by the influx of refugees from southern Sudan and the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ms. Atyam added.
Ms. Svirsky, a long-time activist with the international peace network Women in Black, said that in the past 15 years, the organization had been protesting in Israel by chaining themselves to olive trees and calling for an end to the occupation of Palestine. She added that even before the signing of the Oslo accords, a group of Israeli and Palestinian women had held several peace meetings in Europe, agreeing on the need for a safe and secure Palestinian State alongside a safe and secure State of Israel.
Ms. Nainar from India described the sectarian crises in the state of Gujarat, where some Hindu fanatics were attacking non-Hindu minorities. She said 300,000 people had been displaced with the rise of Hindu fanaticism marked by torture, the burning of property and systematic rape. More than 30,000 children had witnessed the rape of their mothers, she said, calling on the Security Council
to pass a resolution condemning the attacks and asking the Indian Government to
stop the violence. Inaction on the part of the authorities, as well as unwillingness to investigate the attacks and prosecute the offenders, had been the Government’s response, said Ms. Nainar, a former Executive Director of India’s Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice.
United States Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who moderated the press conference, said that by adopting resolution 1325 (2000), the Security Council had acknowledged the importance of protecting women during war. Noting that women were crucial for the attainment of sustainable development, she said she had introduced a resolution in the United States Congress aimed at designating May as “Women for Peace Month”. Women should be recognized not only in conflict situations, but also in providing solutions to domestic abuse and combating such diseases as HIV/AIDS, among others, she stressed.
* *** *