Germany would like to thank Kenya for the very fitting theme of the open debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) this year: “Investing in Women in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding”. It is a politically promising and sound approach to invest in women in peacekeeping and in peacebuilding. This was first laid out in Resolution 1325 and affirmed in various aspects in all follow-up resolutions on the theme, which together form the WPS agenda. To include women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding has simply proven to yield better results - such as more durable peace agreements, for example. In order to bring about the desired inclusion of women in peacekeeping and in peacebuilding, investments of all kinds and on many levels are necessary.
Germany invested politically into the WPS agenda when we strongly advocated for mainstreaming it in the Council’s work, including in the mandates of peace operations, during our tenure on the Council from 2019-2020. We also sought to advance a participative, human rights-based and survivor-centred approach regarding conflict-related sexual violence, notably by putting forward Security Council Resolution 2467.
Germany also continuously invests in women in peacekeeping and in peacebuilding at home. Numerous measures aim at achieving a better female representation in these fields nationally. Germany is committed to meet the targets from the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy. In order to understand persisting barriers for women in peace operations, the German Armed Forces have undertaken a barrier assessment. Germany encourages other UN member states to also undertake a barrier assessment to gain a deeper understanding of hurdles and opportunities for women in peacekeeping.
Today, however, we wish to focus on the ways in which Germany invests in women in peacekeeping and in peacebuilding internationally, and on where we believe international investment is necessary.
First, we support women peace builders in the field, as well as women human rights defenders and women-led organisations. In collaboration with UN Women, Germany remains a fervent supporter of the African Women Leaders Network, which it has backed from its very beginning in 2018. The African Women Leaders Network offers the potential to contribute to women's full inclusion into Africa's transformation in the multilateral, regional and national arena. Germany also supports the women’s network UNIDAS created in 2019 under the patronage of Foreign Minister Maas, which connects civil society gender activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Germany as well as numerous other initiatives.
Second, a crucial need is the financial support of initiatives and measures aimed at implementing the WPS agenda. The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) is a unique instrument to strengthen women’s organizations and female leadership through concrete projects. Germany has supported the Fund with more than 11.6 million Euros since 2019. In addition, this year, we have just pledged 3million euros to a special WPHF rapid response window dedicated to supporting Afghan women peace builders and women human rights defenders. We encourage other member-states to pledge their support to the rapid response window and the Fund more broadly.
With support from Germany, the UN Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) is moreover developing the first-ever global report on gender equality and the status of women in the defence sector, including good practices in increasing women’s representation in the armed forces. In addition to the collection of data, OROLSI will also facilitate a number of dialogues among Member States and women in leadership, with a view to enhancing the collaboration, networking and political commitment at global levels on the promotion of gender equality in the defence sector.
We welcome in that regard that Women in Peacekeeping will be an integral part of the Upcoming UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Seoul in December 2021 and hope that the pledges announced by member states can contribute to further strengthening the role of women in UN peace operations.
Third, in order to improve the environment that women peace builders and women human rights defenders work in, we need to oppose the push-back against human rights and against women’s rights in particular. Misogyny is on the rise, and women are prevented from participating in political, social and economic life by harmful practices, laws, violence and reprisals. The take-over by the Taliban in Afghanistan has shown how quickly hard-won achievements in terms of the rights of women and girls can be reverted in contexts of crisis and conflict. Advocating for human rights and a rules-based international order, Germany believes in our shared responsibility to oppose this push-back. Active involvement in the Generation Equality Forum, initiated by UN Women, France and Mexico to continue the work of the Beijing Platform for Action, is also part of this effort, as is the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We are convinced that a gender transformative approach is needed in order to overcome discriminatory power structures and to foster social transformation and changes in attitudes.
Last, but not least, we need to ensure consequent mainstreaming of WPS in peace and security politics, development cooperation, and humanitarian assistance in a cross-sectional manner. On our part, we will continue to cooperate strongly with German civil society organisations, as well as local women peace builders. We remain further engaged in strengthening women in peace operations.
Germany adopted its third National Action Plan on WPS in February 2021, with two guiding principles: to address root causes of gender inequality and to mainstream the WPS agenda. To strengthen the local implementation and to mainstream WPS in Germany’s endeavours abroad, we create WPS Focal Point positions at selected German embassies in contexts of crisis and multilateral collaboration. As part of the action plan, Germany has also committed itself to increase the understanding of WPS and gender sensitivity of soldiers, police and civilian personnel serving in peacekeeping missions. With regard to peace operations, Germany also supports the Action for Peacekeeping and A4P+ agendas.
Strengthening an inclusive approach to peacebuilding and peacekeeping remains a shared endeavour. Germany will continue to stand by the side of women human rights defenders, women peacebuilders, peacekeepers, civil society and activists who work every day, and often even risk their lives, to make the full, effective and meaningful participation of women, their full empowerment, and the promotion of women’s rights a reality.