We, as current, former and future European Union members of the Security Council, are gathered here today to express our continued commitment to the advancement and full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, including our strong support for decisive action to fight Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
We welcome that today's Open Debate focusses on participation, which is an essential aspect of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. We also welcome the other initiatives taking place this week to shed light on key issues, such as the need for a more systematic and effective use of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict, the situation of children born of wartime sexual violence, the role of Regional Women Mediator Networks, as well as the multi-stakeholder forum on WPS organised earlier this week with the participation of more than 50 civil society organisations.
The Women, Peace and Security agenda provides a solid framework for action for states and other actors alike. Despite this, efforts for women’s meaningful inclusion, leadership and protection remain inadequate. In some areas, there has even been a roll back on progress. As we approach the 20th anniversary of Women, Peace and Security, we must focus on real results. The UN and its Member States need to take ownership and join forces for implementation.
The EU and its Member States have shown their commitment to concretely support WPS. The EU currently devotes 6.5 billion Euros every year to projects addressing gender equality worldwide. The launch last year of the Spotlight Initiative, one of the most ambitious and well-financed programmes for the empowerment of all women, is a major step towards the eradication of Violence against Women and Girls. The EU remains to this day the regional group with the most National Action Plans, and a new WPS policy is currently being developed at the EU-level to identify shortfalls and opportunities for further work.
Earlier this month, EU Parliament Sakharov Prize winners Nadia Murad and Dennis Mukwege were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their lifetime commitment to defeat some of the most abject forms of violence against women and girls. This is a resounding recognition of the fight against sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Women, Peace and Security is a key priority for all EU members of the UN Security Council. We are and will remain champions of gender equality. In line with initiatives by previous EU Member States, we are happy that incoming EU Members will continue prioritising WPS every day, and every week as well as focusing on WPS during their Presidencies. We welcome that the German Presidency in April will organize an Open Debate on Conflict-related Sexual Violence. We will push for progress in all other relevant fora. In this context, we also commend that France will place WPS at the forefront of their G7 Presidency next year, continuing the initiative started by Italy last year, with a ministerial event foreseen in February. We call on all Member States and relevant actors to join us and work together to promote all aspects of the WPS agenda and ensure its full and lasting implementation, not just today, but every day of the year.