PBC/UN Women: Integrating Women into Economic Recovery

Last updated: 11/21/2011 // This joint Nordic statement was delivered by the Swedish Ambassador, Mr. Mårten Grunditz, at the High Level Meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Executive Board of UN Women. Post-conflict recovery will be more sustainable if it is broad-based and grounded in the full inclusion of women in rebuilding the economy and the post-conflict institutions.

Distinguished co-chairs/Madam President/Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. I would like to begin by thanking UN Women’s Executive Board and the Peacebuilding Commission for organizing this High Level Meeting and the Co-chairs, Executive Director Bachelet, Assistant Secretary-General Cheng-Hopkins and Dr. Justino for their valuable remarks. As strong supporters of both the Peacebuilding Commission and UN Women, we warmly welcome enhanced cooperation between these two important UN bodies.

Distinguished co-chairs,

The ultimate aim of post-conflict recovery is to re-establish the conditions for self-sustaining economic growth and human development. This process must address gender inequalities. Recovery will be more sustainable if it is broad-based and grounded in the full inclusion of women in rebuilding the economy and the post-conflict institutions.

Last year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which not only recognized the particularly severe impact of armed conflict for women, but even more importantly - it highlighted the positive contributions of women to conflict prevention, peacemaking, conflict resolution and long-term peacebuilding. Women play a crucial role in minimizing the risk of conflict recurrence, which is vital for economic recovery. It is important to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all stages and at all levels of peace processes. Progress has been far too slow, with women still being underrepresented in international peace operations,  in post-conflict planning, reconstruction and constitutional processes.

Conflict tends to produce a surge of female-headed households with small or no livelihood. It is well known that fully engaging women’s potential, economic recovery can be accelerated. Women need agricultural livelihood assistance, not only to avoiding malnutrition but also to ensure social stability. It is also well known that women invest the majority of their income in their families, leading to healthier families and more children in school.  With improved economic security, women will be able to build food security and child welfare as well as invest in child education and rebuild household economy. And not only that. Investing in women will benefit the whole society. As demonstrated in the latest World Development Report, investing in women is “smart economics.

Restoring basic services is an essential element of any peacebuilding agenda. Women’s access to services is constrained by physical insecurity such as risk of assault during travel. Service delivery must address these obstacles to secure transport and incentives for enrolling girls in education. In particular, women in rural areas need agricultural livelihood assistance, as food security is critical not only to avoiding malnutrition but also to ensure social stability.

Respect for the rule of law, including justice institutions is paramount to and closely linked to confidence in the political process in the aftermath of conflict to prevent conflict recurrence. Therefore, we need a gender-responsive approach to rule of law to better respond to women’s security concerns, such as implementation and enforcement of legislation that criminalizes violence against women. In the realm of economic recovery, if women are not given land rights and support for recovering livelihoods, rural economy and in particular crop recovery will be delayed, with devastating consequences. These issues require a coordinated rule-of-law response at all levels; from gender-sensitive security sector reform at the national level to community-based initiatives at the grassroots level.

Distinguished co-chairs,

We must ensure that women are involved from the very beginning of peace and reconciliation – and stay involved for the long haul - in order to create a virtuous circle with more inclusive participation of women in all phases throughout the entire peace processes. Reducing barriers to women’s participation in employment programmes is a vital measure. The Nordic countries have engaged in twinning and cooperation with partner countries including Afghanistan, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines and Liberia to provide financial support and to share best practices on the implementation of 1325, including in the area of post-conflict employment and economic recovery. 

Distinguished co-chairs,

We have learnt some important lessons from the field, not least from the country-specific configurations in the PBC. Just as women need temporary special measures in politics to compensate for historical exclusion, so are special provisions needed in economic recovery to ensure women’s access to recovery resources. The Nordic countries therefore strongly support the Secretary-General’s 7-point Action Plan on Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding, including the recommendation to ensure that at least 15 % of UN-managed funds in support of peacebuilding are dedicated to projects, whose principal objective is to address women’s specific needs, advance gender equality or empower women.

We - the international community - must practice as we preach:

There are some measures to which we should give priority without further delay to promote a swift spread of good practices:

- Appointment of women as chief mediators and special envoys to UN-led peace processes;

- Establish strategies for including more women in UN negotiating activities;

- Engage women in the civilian capacity component of UN support to countries emerging from conflict;

- Encourage the on-going process for UN entities to undertake comprehensive reviews on how to incorporate gender issues into post-conflict planning in existing institutional arrangements;

- Ensure adequate, flexible and timely financing of post-conflict needs of women;

- Develop standard procedures should be developed as regards donor conferences, e.g. to ensure that a cross-section of women’s representatives from civil and political society be involved and invited to present issues of concern;

- Assure that all projects in support of peacebuilding must demonstrate how they will benefit women.

Both PBC (and PBSO) and UN W omen – as well as other parts of the UN – will be crucial partners in this regard.

Distinguished co-chairs,

The Nordic countries stand ready to continue working together with the UN and the international community towards better integrating women into economic recovery.

Thank you.

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