“Women, Peace and Security on Sexual Violence in Conflict”
H.E. Herman Schaper
Permanent Representative of the Netherlands Mission
to the United Nations
Debate on “Women, Peace and Security on Sexual Violence in Conflict”
in the UN Security Council
NEW YORK, 24 June 2013
Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished participants,
My delegation welcomes this debate and would like to make a few remarks in addition to the EU statement and other statements underlining the importance of the topic of Women, Peace and Security.
The impact of Sexual and Gender-based Violence
The recent cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in countries in conflict like Syria and Mali illustrate again, that fighting such violence remains a priority. It is evident that sexual violence exacerbates conflict and perpetuates insecurity. It holds entire communities hostage, and has an economic, social, cultural and inter-generational impact: women are excluded from communities, cannot engage in economic activities, can not access markets; girls cannot go to school safely.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) can be seen from two perspectives. On the one hand we see women as victims of (sexual) violence; the perspective of Violence Against Women. However, on the other hand, we often tend to underestimate the role that women can play in finding solutions in conflict prevention, resolution and transformation; in fact using the reverse perspective: Women Against Violence. Their capacity is under-utilized, which decreases the effectiveness and likelihood of success of any peace and reconstruction process.
The Netherlands recognizes that women play active roles as peace builders, politicians, activists and quite often also as combatants. We need to listen to the priorities that women define and to the barriers women perceive. Their participation in finding solutions to conflicts and in reconstruction processes is indispensable.
The Netherlands considers sexual violence in conflict as a sign of the failure to implement all elements of the women, peace and security agenda. Therefore, we would like to stress:
• The need to take urgent action on key areas, especially women’s participation and equality; prevention; response; and accountability. Also important are national and regional efforts to end impunity, including through referrals to the International Criminal Court, and by emphasizing the importance of reparations.
• The importance of providing effective support and protection to women-led organizations and women’s human rights defenders, particularly given the threats these defenders face, and the lack of resources they have; and
• The need for a comprehensive multi-sectoral response for survivors, including medical care in accordance with international humanitarian law, and access to emergency contraception & safe abortion; HIV treatment, access to justice, and psychosocial-health care services for women and girls.
• Equally important is strengthening the gender components of security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs, not least through ratification and full compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty that gives substantive attention to gender dimensions.
Practical examples of activities in the field of sexual violence against women
The Netherlands in its policies, like its Human Rights Strategy and its gender strategy, gives particular attention to gender equality and the (political) role and leadership of women, economic empowerment and ending trafficking and violence against women in (post) conflict countries and unstable areas.
In this regard, The Netherlands is actively implementing resolution 1325 through the second National Action Plan (2012-2015) that is signed by 3 Dutch ministries and 41 civil organizations and focusses on 6 countries; Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi, Columbia, DRC, and on the Mena region. Three concrete examples:
• In Afghanistan, a group of Dutch NAP 1325 signatories work together with a local telephone and internet provider to start a program connecting rural poor women and men with more ‘modern’ youth in the main towns via an sms-platform (sms-based blogging). The objective is to inform the rural poor better of national women’s issues and foster dialogue between rural poor and urban youth on issues like Violence against Women and the role women can play in fighting violence.
• With the ‘Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women’s Fund (FLOW) and the Human Rights Fund, the Netherlands supports many women’s organizations in their struggle to combat violence against women. By supporting the political and economic empowerment of women, their vulnerability to sexual violence is reduced. For example the Netherlands funded the Bell Bajiao Campaign that combats violence against women with a very successful media campaign. The campaign started in India and consists of small clips that are nested in various popular TV-programs and talk shows like ‘I want to be a millionaire’. The clips have become very popular and have spread to other countries in the region.
• In the MENA region, we have started, together with a Dutch NGO (HIVOS) and accountancy firm (PriceWaterhouseCoopers; PWC), a new fund (with a budget of EURO 5,8 million) to strengthen the financial and organizational management of women’s organizations in the MENA-region.
Women can be powerful actors for peace, security, and prosperity. When women participate in peace processes and other formal decision-making processes, they can play an important role in initiating and inspiring progress on human rights, justice, national reconciliation, and economic revitalization. Also, they can build coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines and speak up for marginalized and minority groups. Investing in women’s leadership is therefore smart security as well as smart development.