Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Women, Peace, and Security

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
March 14, 2019


Thank you Madam Minister. Thank you very much to France and Germany for calling this important Arria meeting and are happy to be one of the co-sponsors. We also welcome the contributions from UN Women’s Asa Regner, Special Representative Pramila Patten, and especially from our civil society colleagues, Fatima Maïga and Halima Adan. You bring invaluable insights from the field that should guide this Council’s work on women, peace, and security.

The United States is committed to empowering women across the globe and in all venues where decisions are made about their futures. Women’s unique perspectives are assets in building peace and ensuring stability. We all understand that their exclusion is a common mistake, especially in countries emerging from war. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that women’s empowerment and gender equality are associated with peace and stability in a society; it is a blind spot that we can no longer afford to ignore.

It is therefore no surprise to hear of the varied efforts of UN Security Council members to close this gap. Yet despite our shared resolve, the slow progress on increasing women’s participation in peace negotiations is just that: too slow.

With the passage of the U.S. Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, the United States has sent a clear message: it’s time to elevate women’s leadership and voices in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

While challenges abound in advancing women’s meaningful participation in political processes, I would like to share the lessons the United States has learned through our women, peace, and security efforts.

First, this is not about counting women at the table. It is about making their voices matter—whether they are mediators, negotiators, or affected populations. That means broadening our definition of “participation” to include the many ways women contribute to a peace process.

Second, it is important to measure success through a multi-pronged approach that pairs high-level advocacy with on-the-ground technical support and training for women leaders. One cannot succeed without the other.

Third, we need to tackle the underlying drivers of women’s marginalization and exclusion. This includes elevating the legitimacy of female leaders.

In the Sahel region, where conflict has become far too common, we are looking for a holistic approach that addresses root causes, settles longstanding grievances, and creates opportunities. The United States Agency for International Development is working to build stronger connections between the programs it funds in food security, health, microenterprise, and community development. And in Niger, USAID is engaging women in community dialogues and local decision-making in order to prevent violent extremism in vulnerable communities. At the center of all these efforts is women. When we bring together women with power and resources, we create deeper, more sustainable prosperity and security.

Elsewhere on the continent, the United States supports the African Union’s efforts to help its Member States to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Since 2014, the number of countries in Africa with National Action Plans on Women, Peace, and Security has increased from 17 to 23 resulting in tangible progress towards advancing women’s political participation.

We can and must continue to work in concert with other Member States to ensure mediators and negotiating parties include and consult with affected women on all relevant political issues. Putting women, peace, and security on the agenda is not enough— we need to share and implement best practices and create mechanisms to monitor progress.

We also know that there is a direct, inverse relationship between women’s decision-making power and the likelihood of state-perpetrated violence and war. We know that higher levels of female participation in government reduces the likelihood that a state will use violence or carry out human rights abuses. In addition, strengthening women’s political participation also reduces the chances of a conflict relapse in a post-war society.

We also know that sexual violence is used to erode and destroy the social fabric that holds families and communities together. It is often used purposefully as a tactic of war.

The United States has historically been a leader in supporting solutions that prevent sexual violence in conflict, and we continue to lead by example. We are weaving women’s considerations into the DNA of how we approach conflict prevention and countering violent extremism. That includes both tackling the scourge of sexual violence in conflict and equalizing their political participation.

The United States understands that an investment in women is an investment in peace and is committed to expanding opportunity and empowering women around the world, using our foreign assistance and diplomatic advocacy to promote women’s inclusion across efforts around the globe to restore security.

Thank you very much.