New York, US (PANA) - The Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Michele Bachelet, on Monday called for strengthening of the role of women in peace and security matters, as well as increased participation in politics.
“Elections are the key means for the legitimate entry of more women to public office and for bringing women’s issues into policy debates,” Bachelet said at the UN Security Council meeting on women, peace and security.
She said: “I strongly urge the Council to support increased numbers of women in leadership positions, in constitution-making processes and inclusion in the justice and security sector work of UN missions.
“Women’s participation in political, legislative, judicial and security institutions is perhaps the greatest resource on offer to promote peaceful and inclusive transitions."
Bachelet stated that since January 2011, the Council, UN Women and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) had pursued a joint strategy on gender and mediation to increase the availability of gender expertise to mediation teams and the number of women as mediators, observers and negotiators in peace processes managed by the UN.
She also cited efforts by UN offices to increase the number of women candidates on their rosters, as well as support for mediation training for women leaders.
She, however, noted that unfortunately, as a rule, the high level of women’s engagement in informal efforts did not translate into significant presence or influence in formal conflict resolution or political dialogue.
“In the Arab States, women’s contributions to the front lines of democratization have in the main not yet translated into leadership roles in decision-making institutions."
Bachelet further noted that in political transformations, already-organized political interest groups were most successful at seizing power, while women’s groups tended to be underfunded and were often poorly positioned to seize opportunities to influence politics.
“Given the current crisis in Syria, this remains a matter of concern,” she said, adding "Women’s participation is vital both in resolving the crisis and in making sure that women’s interests are addressed in agreements moving forward."
Also speaking, UN Under Secretary-General Herve Ladsous, gave an update on security, protection and equal participation of women in countries hosting peacekeepers, with a focus on political participation and the protection of women.
“They are especially critical because they represent not only the opportunity for women to make their voices heard, and to shape the peace, but also the risk that women face from insecurity, sexual violence and targeting of civilians,” Ladsous said.
The peacekeeping chief also said the Council’s resolution 1325 guided the Department of Peacekeeping Operation’s (DPKO) efforts to support women in post-conflict countries.
The resolution which was adopted in 2000, calls for action to reverse the egregious and inhumane treatment of women and girls during conflicts, the denial of their human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict, in peacemaking and peacebuilding.
"Political participation and protection of women are cornerstones of our efforts in supporting the implementation of Resolution 1325."
Ladsous noted that elections offered the opportunity to advance the resolution in a number of ways.
These include use of temporary special measures to increase opportunities for women to gain elected office; outreach to women’s groups; training of female candidates; enhanced security for women by national police and working with political parties to encourage women’s participation.
“In terms of electoral assistance we all work in close coordination with DPA which has the UN General Assembly mandated system-wide leading role on UN electoral assistance activities and policies," he said.
On the issue of sexual violence and protection of civilians, Ladsous said it was important to reiterate that host governments were ultimately responsible for the protection of their civilian population.
“Our peacekeeping missions cannot act as a surrogate for state authority,” he said.
“We must do our best to strengthen frail state institutions to facilitate their ability to better protect civilians. We must also be prepared to protect civilians directly," he added.
-0- PANA AA/MA 24April2012