Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield Delivers remarks at Security Council meeting

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 7, 2023


Thank you so much, Madam President. Thank you for bringing us together for this important discussion today. And I would like to welcome all of our esteemed guests, the President of the Swiss Confederation, and all of the ministers who are here in the room with us today. Your presence reflects the high priority for which you give this important issue.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity; it’s an opportunity to discuss our collective efforts to fully implement the Women, Peace, and Security agenda as we approach 25 years since the adoption of Resolution 1325, and as we kick off the 67th Commission on the Status of Women.

I would also like to thank Nobel Prize winner Leyma Gbowee for her briefing, as well as UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous, ICRC President Egger, and AU Special Envoy Diop for joining us for this important debate and for your thoughtful and insightful interventions. All of your messages were so powerful.

We welcome Mozambique’s efforts to focus on the unique impact of conflict on women and girls, the need for gender mainstreaming, and the importance of the meaningful participation of women at all levels in decision-making processes.

When I traveled to Mozambique earlier this year, I met with women driving positive change through entrepreneurship. Women like Marta Uetela, who founded a company that produces high-performance prosthesis from recycled ocean plastics.

It is our collective responsibility to continue to uplift and empower women change-makers across Africa and the globe. Because the simple fact is this: when we do, we create a more peaceful, more prosperous world for all. It has been proven time and time again that women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in peace processes as leaders, negotiators, peacekeepers, and peacebuilders increase the chances of a just and lasting peace.

Since Resolution 1325’s passage at the start of the 21st century, the UN Security Council has adopted 10 standalone Women, Peace, and Security resolutions. But while these efforts are commendable, we need to focus on how to most effectively implement the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

As the Secretary-General made clear last year, the Security Council’s implementation of these goals remains an ongoing challenge, especially in the Council’s regional mandates. We see this most acutely in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has reneged on its promises to the international community and to Afghan women, and implemented draconian, oppressive measures against women and girls. Afghan women are now barred from working in NGOs and they are unable to attend universities and secondary schools.

This is a profound crisis. It will prevent Afghanistan from achieving stability, economic prosperity, and future growth. It places women and girls at increased risk of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. And it hinders lifesaving humanitarian aid from reaching Afghans in desperate need.

This Council must continue to insist the Taliban reverse these horrific edicts and honor its commitment to the people of Afghanistan.

We welcomed Deputy Secretary-General Mohamed’s recent visit to Afghanistan, but we remain concerned that the Taliban has not changed course. If anything, it has become more entrenched.

Of course, the challenges ahead of us are not confined to one country or one region. Over the past year, women and girls have faced violence, repression, exclusion in Iran, Ukraine, and elsewhere around the world.

Last November, while in Kyiv, I met with victims of Russia’s war of aggression. Women who had been raped and tortured by Russian forces. And I can tell you, I will never forget the pain etched into their faces. There must be accountability for these atrocities.

And this January, I traveled to Somalia and saw the devastation the ongoing drought has wrought. In particular, these dire conditions have exacerbated gender-based violence. And this has been compounded by the backsliding of women’s political participation, peacebuilding, and access to humanitarian assistance.

Let’s be clear: Lasting peace and an inclusive, prosperous society depend on women’s leadership and political participation in Somalia. But even as we confront these immense challenges, we must lift up bright spots and we must celebrate our progress.

In that vein, I want to applaud my colleagues from Ghana for adopting the most recent WPS National Action Plan and for hosting the next UN Peacekeeping Ministerial. We will continue to work with Ghana to encourage troop- and police-contributing countries to increase the number of women deployed to UN peacekeeping operations in military and police contingents, and to ensure that women peacekeepers are serving in positions of leadership.

On the subject of peace and security, I will note that – with U.S. funding – the United States Institute of Peace is supporting women leaders in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda who are working to counter violent extremism and who are advocating for women’s leadership in local, regional, and national strategies on countering violent extremism. We have also engaged in similar programs in Mali and Niger, and we will continue to connect with women leaders across the Sahel.

Such engagement is imperative, as groups, including ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and the Taliban, directly target women and girls to achieve ideological and tactical objectives. By supporting women and youth as prevention actors, we can more effectively and sustainably address the conditions conducive to terrorism.

I also want to note that the United States is serving, along with Romania, as Co-Chair of the WPS-Focal Points Network for 2023. We look forward to working with our Namibian colleagues to standardize the approach to establishing and sustaining WPS Centers of Excellence.

Colleagues, the United States is proud to be the first country with a comprehensive law on Women, Peace, and Security, and the first country with a strategy that cuts across our entire government. We urge all countries to take the necessary step of codifying UN Security Council Resolution 1325 into their national laws.

Women and girls around the world are counting on us – the are counting on us to build a more just, more secure, and more equitable future. Let’s do that work together.

Thank you very much, Madam President.