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National statements

Security Council Open Debate: Protection challenges and needs faced by women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Conflict Prevention
  • Human Rights
  • Impunity
  • Peace and Security
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Protection of Civilians
  • Women


Statement by H.E. Caitlin Wilson, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you Mr President for bringing this Council's dedicated attention to the critical issue of the protection needs and challenges faced by some of the most vulnerable, and potentially some of the most powerfully transformative members of conflict-affected societies: women and girls.

We also thank Assistant Secretary-General Kang, Ms Durham and Ms Elman, for their valuable and powerful briefings today and also for the work they and their organisations do in some of the most challenging environments.

Mr President,

As the UN community looks to mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 later this year, it is a timely opportunity for us to reflect on how effective this Council has been in its efforts to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls in conflict affected situations, and to promote their roles in peace and security settings, and how these efforts can be strengthened.

The challenges facing the Council are immense – more simultaneous conflicts, with a greater impact on civilians, across a wider breadth of the world, than at any time since World War Two.

It is clear to us that in the face of these challenges it is imperative that this Council moves early to secure the protection needs of women and girls as conflicts emerge, and that it consistently and comprehensively applies a gender lens across the breadth of its work.

Mr President

Today, Australia would like to highlight three key areas where the Council and Member States could usefully focus their efforts to substantively improve the protection outcomes for women and girls in conflict, and address the underlying causes of gender inequality.

Firstly, improving women's participation in prevention and protection efforts

It is essential we recognise, and make full use of women's capabilities by ensuring they play central roles in inclusive peace and security mechanisms, including the design and implementation of conflict prevention initiatives, conflict resolution strategies, and post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation. We must counter cultures of impunity for violations of women's human rights, and ensure there is accountability for crimes perpetrated against them.

In designing peacekeeping and special political missions, we encourage Council members and UN leaders to remain focused on the protection of civilians and that mandates be implemented in a gender-sensitive manner.
Key to this is following up with practical action, for example: deploying women protection advisers to address the protection needs of women in conflict, particularly from sexual violence, as well as gender advisers who can be instrumental in supporting local women to participate in peace processes, and empowering women in legal and judicial processes.

Of course, the responsibility for the protection of women and girls' rights is not a matter for women alone. Men and boys have a vital role to play, and it is critical that peacekeepers receive adequate pre-deployment training on protection of civilians, gender, and human rights.

Secondly, empowering women economically and politically

A key element to strengthening the protection of women and girls, and securing their livelihoods in post-conflict situations, is prioritising women's economic empowerment. The economic empowerment of women is a major foreign affairs, trade and aid priority for Australia. Ensuring women's full and equal participation in political, economic and social spheres is fundamental to this, and must be embedded early and as a priority in all conflict resolution and post-conflict rebuilding efforts.
Ensuring that the outcomes of the post-2015 development agenda reaches and benefit conflict-affected women and girls must be a priority, as part of global efforts towards economic growth and poverty reduction, and ensuring peaceful and resilient communities.

Thirdly, ensuring UN missions and agencies collect, analyse and provide to the Council information and data on the gender-sensitive aspects of their work

A lack of data, including sex and age-disaggregated data, fundamentally affects and undermines our prevention and response efforts. UN missions must monitor and report on both the gender aspects of their mandates, and the gender impacts of their work. It is equally essential that this information is provided to the Council – through regular reporting, as well as through briefings to the Council. Such information is powerful – particularly in conflict prevention efforts – an area of fundamental importance to the Council's protection efforts.

Mr President,

2015 will provide us with a rare opportunity to strengthen the UN's architecture on women and girls' rights – including through the parallel reviews of resolution 1325, the UN's peace operations, and peacebuilding architecture.

We must seize this chance. Australia calls on those involved in the reviews to ensure that they make concrete and practical recommendations on how all arms of the UN's peace and security architecture can work more effectively and consistently to protect civilians in conflict, and to promote the rights of women and girls across the Council's agenda.

Thank you, Mr President.

(Check against delivery)

Last Updated: 16 June 2015
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