Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Women, Peace, and Security in the Sahel

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 2, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to all of our briefers today for your statements and insights. We heard some words about the challenges we face, but also words of optimism – I think – and those expressions of optimism certainly will fuel our work on this important issue.

The United States government knows these peace processes that include women and civil society expand the scope of negotiations, and lead to longer-lasting agreements. This fact underscores the importance of ensuring the meaningful inclusion of women, women-led civil society organizations, in the implementation of the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement in Mali, and in the fragile transition in Chad.

Globally, including in the Sahel region, I think we all know, women occupy a central role in their communities. This allows them to bridge and foster the relationships that are vital for peacebuilding initiatives. But before women can contribute, we need to create the conditions that allow them to contribute. Women and girls in the Sahel region face a myriad of threats to their emotional wellbeing, to their physical safety. As we heard from our briefers, these threats range from female genital mutilation and cutting, to domestic violence, to early and forced marriage. Further, women and girls are often deliberately targeted in conflict, and experience high rates of conflict-related sexual violence, abductions, and other forms of hideous abuse.

The international community must increase its efforts to ensure the safety of women peacebuilders, women peacekeepers, human rights defenders, and women civil society members. It is also critical that we address broader issues of gender inequality, specifically focusing on access to education, economic opportunities, and sexual and reproductive health care services, as well as the prevention and response to gender-based violence. The UN and Member States’ commitments to full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 should be re-enforced to be specific and to be actionable. This includes promoting the meaningful participation of women in peace and security, promoting the safety of women and girls in conflict and crises, and ensuring equal access to relief and recovery assistance.

To this end, the United States fully supports the launch of the Group of Friends of Women in the Sahel by Niger, the African Union, and the European Union. The United States is very proud to join this group, and looks forward to working together on efforts to empower women and women’s organizations in this region.

Thank you, Mr. President.