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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Gender equality for a more peaceful world

Ten years ago the United Nations Security Council first recognised the link between gender equality and peace and security, when it unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security on 31 October 2000. Resolution 1325 recognises women as active agents of peace, who must be included as full and equal participants in all peace processes. It notes that conflicts can have a different impact on men and women and further stresses the importance of giving special attention to women's needs and to protect their rights and safety.

The promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment in the field of peace and security is a high priority in the foreign policy of all the Nordic countries. We have seen the positive impact of increased gender equality in our own societies. We are convinced that the advancement of women's rights and gender equality worldwide can contribute to making our world more peaceful. We are committed to strengthening and advancing the issue of gender equality worldwide.

Women can – and must – play a key role in conflict prevention, peace building, early warning and disarmament. A study recently demonstrated that women's participation in NATO's Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan benefits operational effectiveness. Peace agreements where women participate cover a broader range of issues and make the outcome of such agreements more sustainable.

Implementation has been painfully slow

A decade after the adoption of Resolution 1325 we regret that the implementation has been painfully slow. Armed conflicts continue to have a devastating impact on women and girls who are often subjected to terrifying sexual and gender based violence which mostly goes unpunished – even if reported. Women remain consistently marginalised from peace processes and only a handful of countries have adopted National Action Plans on the implementation of Resolution 1325. The Nordic Countries have all had such plans in force for a number of years. We, as Ministers of Foreign Affairs, have urged other countries to adopt their own 1325 National Action Plans and stand ready to share our experience and to assist.

The international community must relentlessly seek ways to ensure the advancement of women's rights. Women should not only be seen as victims of war, when in fact they are also a part of the solution. The active participation of women is essential for achieving sustainable peace and building societies where the concerns of all citizens are taken into account. Resolution 1325 gives us a tool for this purpose, but results do not miraculously come on their own. For instance, intense pressure from women's organisations and Afghan civil society, as well as the international community, including the Nordic countries, was needed to ensure female participation in the Peace Jirga in Afghanistan this summer. Systematic action is needed from the Security Council, the United Nations and Regional Organisations to guarantee that at such important events women's voices are heard and given attention.

Impunity for sexual violence is unacceptable

Earlier this year we welcomed the decision to create the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women. We congratulate Michelle Bachelet on her appointment as the Under-Secretary and its Executive Director. We are confident the new entity will strengthen and enhance the UN's work in the area of gender equality.

A key step in the field of women, peace and security is the establishment of a Special Representative of the Secretary General to combat sexual violence in conflict and the appointment of Sweden's Margot Wallström to serve as the first Special Representative. We support the Special Representative in her important work, including on fighting impunity and amnesty for sexual and gender-based violence and protecting women and girls from such atrocities. Violence of this nature not only affects the victims, but also their families, villages and societies as a whole. The international community must speak out to underline that such violence will never be tolerated. We must ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and the victims receive assistance. Justice is a prerequisite for peace.

Lene Espersen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark;

Alexander Stubb, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland;

Jonas Gahr Störe, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway;

Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and  

Össur Skarphéðinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland

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