Statement by Ambassador Leendertse in the open debate of the UN Security Council on ”Protecting Participation: Addressing violence targeting women in peace and security processes“, 18 January 2022

18.01.2022 - Speech

(As delivered)

I would like to thank Norway, Madame High Commissioner, Zarqa Yaftali and Kaavya Asoka for their important contributions. I also congratulate Norway and current Council members Albania, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, for making Women, Peace and Security (WPS) a priority of their respective presidencies.

We are constantly reminded of the relevance of resolution 1325 and its follow-up resolutions by the daily risks women encounter at every stage of conflicts cycle. One striking example is Afghanistan: since the take-over by the Taliban, Afghan women have encountered violence, infringements of their rights and extreme marginalization. This calls on us to create safe environments for women involved in peacebuilding, to protect and empower women who defend human rights – in Afghanistan and beyond.

Germany fully commits to the WPS agenda, including by ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace and security processes at all levels, leveraging their leadership. This remains an important commitment we pursue in all aspects of our foreign policy. Today, I would like to mention three concrete examples of our endeavours:

First: Two years ago, Germany founded the Elisabeth-Selbert-Initiative, a protection programme for human rights defenders at risk from all over the world, including women human rights defenders. Through this initiative, those who are threatened can receive temporary relocation grants and on-site assistance.

Second, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) is a unique financial instrument to strengthen women’s organization and female leadership through concrete projects. In 2021, Germany supported the Fund with 18 million Euros. Today, together with Norway we launched the new WPHF Funding Window for Women Human Rights Defenders working for inclusive peace and humanitarian action. In this framework Germany will provide 2 million Euros to support Afghan women human rights defenders inside and outside of the country. We encourage other member-states to pledge their support to the new funding window and the WPHF more broadly.

Third, we believe that strong voices in the Security Council are crucial to protect women human rights defenders and peacebuilders. That is why, during our tenure on the Council, we put forward Security Council resolution 2467. The utmost importance of this resolution remains evident as women human rights defenders face targeted violence and are at higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

Madame President, when women human rights defenders are threatened and hindered in their engagement, we will see shrinking spaces as well as less sustainable peace. The UN and its member states must do more to protect women in peace processes and ensure safe environments for them. We must put in place protective measures for women peacebuilders at risk, we must hold up our support to their crucial actions, elevate their strong voices, and we must act united. Germany will continue to stand ready to do so.

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