First, Iet me congratulate the Government of Nepal on the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It is a promising plan which carries great hope for the women and men of Nepal.
In the search for best practices – I encourage you to look to the inclusive process that has characterized the development of Nepal’s Action Plan! I am impressed to learn about the strong collaboration between the Government, line ministries, civil society and development partners. Women’s networks and the child rights consortium have also been mobilized to make sure that all the voices that needed to be heard were included.
As a representative of the Government of Norway, I am proud that Norway has been involved in such a positive process as the Chair of the local Peace Support Working Group in Nepal. This group has ensured that the support from the international community has been provided in a coordinated and collaborative way. This group has been able to respond to requests from the Government in a collective manner by drawing on different resources, both technical and financial.
I would like to commend the strong leadership of the Government, in particular, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, which has been the driving force throughout the process. I had the pleasure of visiting Nepal in October last year, when the High Level Steering Committee approved the action plan. I have been an eager follower of this process, and I am very pleased to take part in this event today.
Promoting the participation and roles of women in conflict management, in peace processes and in peacebuilding is a strong priority for the Norwegian government. Our support for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820 are part of our goals to promote gender equality and international peace and security. The two are closely linked. We are convinced that increasing women’s participation enhances our ability to prevent, manage and resolve contemporary conflicts, and not least, to rebuild societies after conflicts have ended.
Norway recently launched its own updated action plan - a new strategic plan on women, peace and security for the next three years. The plan includes concrete measures to increase women’s participation and influence in peacebuilding and in peace negotiations.
Women are often referred to as victims in wars. But being the backbone of social relations in most societies, and serving an especially important role in a situation of conflict, they also have an important political role to play. They should be recognized as actors and agents for peace and not just recipients of peace dividends.
Throughout history, women have played crucial roles in conflict management, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Women do vital work on the ground in conflict areas. They become the sole breadwinner as heads of households, they protect children, give support to victims, and they mediate between groups and reconcile communities.
However, women are seldom present at high level peace negotiations. Not only is this unfair. It is unwise. An increasing amount of evidence shows that involving women in peace processes brings a more inclusive view of security and enhances the likelihood that agreements – and peace – will prevail. Taking into consideration women’s perspectives in the peace talks and drafting of peace agreements will not only ensure broader participation or reflect a symbolic act of “inclusiveness”, it brings important ownership and legitimacy to the process. Peace agreements that do not have full acceptance from both men and women are not likely to respond adequately to core issues of the conflict and their impact on society. They may therefore fail.
Women must also play an active part in post-conflict situations in order to achieve stability and sustainable peace. This includes securing women’s positions in political processes and applying a gender perspective in national policy development. The needs and priorities of women in post-conflict situations tend to include security, health, property rights and employment claims which are vital for their economic independence. , Moreover, women must be ensured the dignity and justice they deserve to be able carry on with their lives.
I hope that one day; action plans on women, peace and security will not be necessary, that women’s experiences and interests in armed conflict are natural parts of any country’s peace and security policies. Why should they not be? Until we reach that day, we must use all available tools to strengthen women’s active and meaningful participation - participation that has the power to make positive change.
The process of developing national action plans and securing the commitment of governments is a big step in the right direction. National action plans are important signs of political will and the process of dialogue and consultation can have a lasting effect on the society.
We count on Nepal’s government to sustain the political will and to live up the high standards you have set for yourselves. Norway will continue to partner with Nepal and support the implementation of the action plan. Now that it has been launched – the real work starts.