The United Nations’ Secretary-General, António Guterres, told the Security Council that, despite the institutional advancements on the issue of women, peace and security, “the situation is going backwards” on the ground.
Addressing the Council on Wednesday (15 June), the UN chief said that “the reason is simple.”
“Women’s equality is a question of power. Today’s political deadlocks and entrenched conflicts are just the latest examples of how enduring power imbalances and patriarchy are continuing to fail us”, Guterres said.
The Secretary-General believes that “gender equality offers a path to sustainable peace and conflict prevention, and yet we are moving in the opposite direction.”
According to Guterres, today’s conflicts “are amplifying gender inequality, poverty, climate disruptions, and inequalities.” For him, “women and girls are affected differently and disproportionately by the violence, and by the long-term social and economic impacts of these cascading crises.”
The UN chief told Council members that “millions of girls are out of school, with no prospect of training, a job, or financial independence.”
On top of that, Guterres noted, rising numbers of women and girls are suffering from violence in the home and, in some countries, “extremists and military actors have taken power by force, cancelling previous commitments on gender equality and persecuting women for simply going about their daily lives.”
The Secretary-General also said that “around the world, the recent shift away from inclusive politics shows once again that misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing, and are antithetical to stable, prosperous societies.”
The Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Sami Bahous, said that “women and girls are bearing the brunt of descents into conflict or coups.”
“This cannot continue. It is contrary to everything that has been committed in these very chambers, starting with resolution 1325. It is contrary to our collective promise of Agenda 2030 and a more sustainable and peaceful future”, Bahous said.
The Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Helga Maria Schmid, told the Council the world is “living through extremely challenging times” and highlighted Russia’s war on Ukraine, saying it “is having a devastating impact on innocent civilians and infrastructure and is in direct contradiction with the core principles that underpin the European and global security order.”
“Women and girls have been the victims of rape and are in higher risk of trafficking and violence. The consequences of the war in Ukraine are also threatening food and energy security,” Schmid said.
Bineta Diop, the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, pointed to research showing “that gender inequality is the number one predictor of peace and that full participation of all citizens, both men and women, is the best way to build sustainable democracies, reduce conflict and achieve development.”
Representing the European Union, the Ambassador for Gender and Diversity, Stella Ronner-Grubačić, told Council members that the international community is “currently standing at a crossroads with different directions to choose.”
Ronner-Grubačić sees two options: continue on the road of more talk than action, or agree to accelerate action, including in times of immediate crisis and unlawful takeover of countries.
Also addressing the Council, the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the League of Arab States, Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, noted that her region “is still witnessing crises and conflicts and women’s potential to build peace remains untapped in the region.”
Despite those challenges, Ghazaleh noted that “sporadic progress has been seen” and said that “calls are being made for the de-escalation of conflicts and for women’s equal and meaningful participation in their peaceful resolution.”
Full Remarks as delivered: www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2022-06-15/secretary-generals-remarks-the-security-council-women-peace-and-security-bilingual-delivered-scroll-down-for-all-english-version