Speech by Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Ms Lulu Xingwana Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa Summit: Women, Peace and Security
22 May 2011
Programme Director: Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa–Nqakula
Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane
Premier of North West province, Ms Thandi Modise
Our United Nations partners present here
Participants from all countries of our continent
Ladies and gentlemen
Discussion topic: Mainstreaming gender into peace and security processes
I would like to thank the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa for organising this initiative.
This meeting takes place at the time when South Africa has just held yet another successful local government elections on Wednesday. The people of our country have once again affirmed their confidence in the African National Congress (ANC) to lead the process of transformation and improvement of the lives of all South Africans.
The ANC went into these elections with firm commitment on gender equality and women empowerment. It had the highest number of women candidates at 47% nationally. This means that more women have an opportunity to serve as councilors in municipalities governed by the ANC.
Those women who opted for the Democratic Alliance (DA) have themselves to blame. The DA only had 33% women candidates. This poses a real threat of negating the gains already made in improving women representation particularly in municipalities led by the DA.
Before these elections, we had 40% of councilors being women. After the Independant Electoral Commission (IEC) announce the final election results later today, we will be able to measure the damage caused by the failure of opposition parties to commit to the principle of gender equality. The inability of opposition parties to support women participation demonstrate the urgent need for us to move with speed in the development of the Gender Equality Bill that will enforce the principle of 50/50 gender parity in all sectors of our society. Consultations are underway with women at national and provincial level to ensure that this Bill encompasses their full aspirations.
Programme Director, the 55th session of the United Nation Commission on the Status of Women held in New York in February this year discussed the role of women in the process of political change in their respective countries. This session took place at the time of much political upheavals in the Arab world including north Africa with strong women and youth participation. The main concern was the need to ensure full women participation in political processes post the transition.
South Africa was acknowledged as one of the examples of active women participation both in the struggle against an oppressive regime and in the construction of a democratic order. We have to consolidate and expand this political space we have created and work towards the attainment of 50/50 gender parity in political decision-making positions.
Programme director, the Resolutions of the United Nations (UN) we are discussing today provide a clear guide to governments and other UN partners on gender in the area of conflict prevention and recovery. The commitment to expand the role of women in leadership positions in every aspect of prevention and resolution of conflicts, including peace keeping and peace building efforts, is clear in these resolutions.
During the year 2000, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a groundbreaking resolution on women, peace and security. The Resolution 1325, urged all UN Member states to increase women’s representation at all decision-making levels for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.
It also urged the UN Secretary-General to appoint more women as his special representatives and envoys, and to expand women’s role and contribution in UN field-based operations. The Security Council called on all actors to involve women in negotiating and implementing peace agreements and to adopt a gender perspective in all their work on peace and security.
Even more important to the personal safety of women, the Resolution called on all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and all other forms of violence that occur in situations of armed conflict. This resolution was the first to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women.
In June 2008, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1820 on sexual violence in conflict, which explicitly links sexual violence as a tactic of war with the maintenance of international peace and security. The resolution highlights that sexual violence in conflict constitutes a war crime and demands parties to armed conflict to immediately take appropriate measures to protect civilians from sexual violence, including training troops and enforcing disciplinary measures. This Resolution reinforces our view that sexual violence is often widespread and systematic and can impede the restoration of international peace and security.
With these resolutions, the UN and member states now have a clear mandate to address sexual and gender-based violence, including through sanctions and training to empower field staff to prevent and respond to these issues.
In October 2009, the Security Council also adopted resolution 1888, mandating peace keeping missions to protect women and children from sexual violence during armed conflict, and requesting that the Secretary-General appoint a special representative on sexual violence during armed conflict. In line with this resolution, UN Secretary General announced the appointment of Margot Wallstrom of Sweden as his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict in February 2010.
We have to strengthen women’s participation in peace processes and build on these Resolutions to deepen the agenda of women, peace and security. We have to strengthen the call for the establishment of monitoring system including the implementation of the part of the resolution calling for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict to be listed in the report of the Secretary General.
It is a requirement that all UN Member States have to develop national action plans or other national level strategies to implement these resolutions. The development of such an action plan provides opportunities to initiate preventative actions, identify priorities and resources and to allocate responsibilities and timeframes. The whole process of developing a national action plan also involves the raising of awareness and capacity building in order to overcome gaps and challenges to the full implementation of these resolutions.
In line with the Resolution 1325, action is needed at the national level in the following key areas:
- women’s participation in decision-making and peace processes
- support for local women’s peace initiatives
- involvement of women in all peace agreement negotiations and implementation mechanisms
We need to continuously stress the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building. We have to emphasise the importance of integration of gender perspectives and women’s equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security.
We need to ensure protection of human rights of women and girls in conflict situations and in peace-keeping and post conflict recovery periods. We need the gender perspective to be included in all peacekeeping and peace building measures, including issues of human rights, specific needs of women and girls, HIV and AIDS programmes for military and police officers in preparation for deployment.
As we develop strategies for peace and security, we need to be guided by these key resolutions. We have to make sure that prevention of violation of rights of women and children in conflict situation is the main priority for peace-keeping forces. These forces themselves have to include women in all elements of their operation, not only in support services. We have to ensure full participation of women in political processes to prevent and resolve conflict. The post conflict recovery process has to provide opportunities for improvement of the social, economic and political status of women in our countries.
As our President, President Jacob Zuma said in the 8 January statement of the ANC: “We will continue to support human rights, freedom, justice and democracy in the continent and the world, influenced by our track record and history. The ANC produced a Bill of Rights as early as 1943, even before the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948.”
We have a track record of an unwavering commitment to gender equality and empower of women. We will continue to be guided by this history in all our efforts to find lasting peace throughout our continent of Africa.
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
22 May 2011
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