Statement by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security
11 April 2019
I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, an informal network of 57 interested Member States chaired by Canada, representing all five regional groups of the United Nations.
Including women in UN peace operations is both the right and the smart thing to do. Resolution 1325 recognizes the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. In peacekeeping, the Security Council has been resolute in affirming the indispensable role of women and continues to highlight the imperative of increasing the number of civilian and uniformed women in peace operations, including through resolutions 2242, 2378, 2382, and 2436. Troop and police contributors have echoed these calls, including through the A4P declaration. Overall, increasing the participation of women in peace operations contributes to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions.
Evidence and experience demonstrate that women’s participation leads to outcomes that makes peace operations more effective. Women bring valuable perspectives, improve situational awareness, increase the protection reach of missions, enhance populations’ access to critical services, and help build trust with local communities. This enhances the safety and security of peacekeepers, and the communities they serve, as well as the operational effectiveness of missions.
Despite facing persistent barriers, women have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to perform the same tasks, to the same standards, and under the same difficult conditions, as their male counterparts.
The Group of Friends applauds efforts undertaken by the Secretariat, notably DPO’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, to increase uniformed women personnel. We are committed to helping achieve its targets. This said, we stress this is not a numbers game. Women must be able to participate fully and meaningfully in peace operations at all levels and in all positions. Whether serving in civilian, police, or military roles, and whether in leadership or as part of integrated mission teams. In addition, efforts to reduce barriers to women’s participation, as well as developing institutional standards to promote their safety, such as training on sexual harassment and abuse prevention and response, are critical.
We also welcome recent progress in achieving the gender targets under this strategy, including increasing the deployment of mixed gender police and military units and the appointment of women to command positions in missions.
In spite of this progress we are still failing to ensure the full inclusion of women in peace operations. Less than 5 percent of military contingents and less than 8 percent of formed police units are women, and only 22 percent of civilians in peace operations are women. The situation is even more dire when examining the participation of uniformed women in the higher ranks of peace operations.
We must do better.
While a number of efforts have been undertaken by the UN, it is ultimately up to Troop and Police Contributing Countries to recruit, train, support, equip, and deploy women peacekeepers.
All Troop and Police Contributing Countries should comprehensively review their criteria and procedures for deployment to UN peace operations. This includes addressing persistent barriers facing women such as recruitment, training, and promotion initiatives, restrictions on occupations, access to deployment opportunities, institutional challenges related to the structure of respective security services, as well as attitudinal constraints. We simply cannot achieve success in UN peace operations without getting our own houses in order.
To this end, national action plans and strategies on women, peace, and security can serve as important tools to catalyze commitments on women in peace operations. We encourage the adoption and revision of such plans to enhance women’s recruitment, retention, and deployment in security services supporting peace operations.
Finally, the Group notes that increasing the number of women in peace operations must be accompanied by a relentless effort to meet UN commitments to mainstream gender considerations in such operations. Success depends on peace operations being equipped with appropriate gender analysis and expertise at all levels and all stages of a mission. The role of gender advisors and women protection advisors in achieving this cannot be understated, and we emphasize the importance of ensuring they have the access to the resources and training needed to fulfill their critical tasks.
Collectively, we can make peace operations more effective and more reflective of the communities they serve.