14 January 2021

Deputy Secretary-General Notes Female Absence from Negotiations Worldwide, in Message for Launch of Rapid Response Window on Women, Peace Processes

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s video message for the high-level official launch of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund’s Rapid Response Window on women and peace processes, held today:

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and welcome.  I am delighted to join you for the formal launch of a new tool to support women’s meaningful participation in peace processes.

The Rapid Response Window of the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund will make a real difference to the lives of women peacebuilders, and through them, their communities and societies.  It is a contribution to peace everywhere.

As we all know, there is plenty of evidence that, when women participate, peace processes are more inclusive and agreements more sustainable.  We see it happen across the globe.  I remember vividly, in my visit to Afghanistan in 2019, I met an amazing woman religious scholar.  Her deep knowledge of the Quran made her a strong voice at the negotiating table in the service of peace.

But, around the world, women are missing from peace negotiations.  Peace agreements still fail to benefit from the vast knowledge and expertise of women and to consider women’s rights and priorities.  Between 1992 and 2019, women constituted on average just 13 per cent of negotiators in major peace processes worldwide.  And less than 8 per cent of peace agreements in 2018 contained provisions relating to gender — down from 39 per cent in 2015.

Many obstacles to women’s participation are rooted in the design of peace processes, and an absence of political will and commitment.  We must continue to address these at all levels and through all channels.  However, there are also practical considerations that can be powerful barriers to women’s participation.  These range from travel expenses to translation, childcare and logistical and technical support.

The Secretary-General took aim at these practical barriers in his 2019 report on Women, Peace and Security.  He recommended that the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund should create a specific mechanism to address immediate barriers to women’s participation in peace processes.  I am happy to see this come to life today.  Designed in consultation with women peacebuilders, the Rapid Response Window will deliver flexible funding to civil society organizations so that women can take their rightful place at the peace table.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the effectiveness of women’s leadership, and of gender-balanced decision-making at all levels.  As we strive to achieve sustainable and inclusive peace, security and development, we must invest in the pathways and mechanisms — like the Rapid Response Window — that will get us there quickly.

I thank the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany and Norway for their vision and support.  I encourage others to join this important initiative.  Your contributions are an important investment in sustaining the peace dividend.  Thank you, and I wish you every success.

For information media. Not an official record.