Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Women, Peace, and Security

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Washington, D.C.
March 8, 2021


Thank you, very much, Geraldine. And thank you, Juan Ramón, for convening us here today for this important Arria meeting – and it is my first Arria. I kept asking in the early days, “what exactly is an Arria?” Now I know what it is. I want to thank today’s briefers for their insight on how we can make progress on our Women, Peace, and Security commitments, and on the important work left to be done. Their insights were invaluable. And I particularly want to thank Rasha for her comments, and for her courage, and for her service and the work that she’s been doing throughout her life.

Today, I’d like to make three main points. First, the United States strongly supports the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Second, it’s time for all of us to turn our commitments on the agenda into action. And third, we need to do more to protect women, especially women leaders, from silence and violence.

The United States and the Biden-Harris administration care deeply about gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls around the world. We all believe and understand that women do better, countries do better, communities do better, and families do better. Not just women, but everyone.

That is why the United States is joining the UN Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.

And it is why I am pleased to announce that Vice President Harris will deliver the United States national statement at the 65th Commission on the Status of Women on March 16.

The United States is back at the UN and we are resolute in our support for the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

We believe that the agenda needs to go beyond mere rhetoric. It is time we translate our noble commitments into concrete actions. Women should be part of mediation and negotiation teams. They should also serve in roles behind the scenes that are just as powerful – such as technical experts, or civil society leaders consulted by those in power. With so many ways for women to lend their voice to – and lead – in peacebuilding, there is no excuse for their perspectives to be absent.

Last October, the Group of Friends on Women, Peace, and Security called on the UN to make women full, equal, and meaningful participants a requirement in all mediation teams, political transitions, and peace processes that it leads or co-leads. This must be a priority within the UN. It should be incorporated into its staffing models. The UN must lead by example.

And we have to do this work within our own systems too. I am personally proud to have spearheaded one of the first dedicated funds for the United States to invest in women peacebuilders across Africa. With several peace processes stalled, the world has an urgent, security-based need to deliberately engage women leaders if we are to address these conflicts and create lasting, sustainable peace agreements.

Finally, we need to do more to protect women in positions of visible leadership. Peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists, public officials – including those who brief the Security Council – are increasingly subjected to threats, harassment, and gender-based violence. This violence is meant to silence. We cannot allow that to happen. The issue of safeguards for women peacebuilders and civil society leaders is the next frontier for Women, Peace, and Security.

Thank you, very much.