A revolution is under way to promote the role of women and parity [fr]
Women in peacekeeping
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 11 April 2019
It is an honour to have you, the German Federal Minister of Defence, among us today, Madam President, presiding over the Security Council during the joint presidencies of the Council. France and Germany have made the women and peace and security agenda a top priority, as demonstrated by our open debate with you as President today. We are particularly grateful to you for that. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General, Major General Kristin Lund and Ms. Lorna Merekaje for their very insightful briefings and their commitment to the women and peace and security agenda, which are a source of inspiration for us. I would like to reiterate our full support to the Secretary-General and his team for the ambitious and effective strategy that he has put in place to achieve parity within the United Nations.
I also associate myself with the statements to be delivered by the observer of the European Union and the representative of Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women and Peace and Security. The Security Council should step up its efforts to still further integrate the women and peace and security agenda into peacekeeping operations. Significant progress has been made but we must do more to truly place that agenda at the centre of peacekeeping operations.
In mandates, that integration covers several realities: from prevention and protection against sexual violence in times of conflict to women’s participation in political processes. We must continue to promote that comprehensive approach in particular by ensuring the deployment of gender and women protection advisers. We all know that that is an ongoing task both in the Council and the Fifth Committee. During a ministerial meeting on the margins of the General Assembly, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, recalled that peacekeepers “engage in situations in which no nation is ready to engage alone”. We must therefore ensure that the necessary training and logistical support are provided not only to those men but also increasingly to the women who are committed to peace.
Secondly, the increasing participation of women in peacekeeping operations is essential to the success of our agenda and to peacekeeping operations themselves. As is clearly documented, the increased participation of women directly helps to strengthen the effectiveness of operations. It is true that in all fields, across the board, the added value is particularly strong in areas such as access to local communities and victims’ access to care and justice, to take just two examples among many others. More generally, no position should be reserved only for men.
Progress has been made but it is still insufficient. That must be said. There are still 27 units without women, compared to 49 last year. Women represent 5 per cent of the troops and 8 per cent of the police contingents, which is still far from the goals set by the Council. It is primarily the troop-contributing countries that should fully assume that responsibility. The feminization rate of French troops in peacekeeping operations was 5.5 per cent in 2018, which is already a higher rate than the United Nations target of 5.25 per cent for 2019. In February, the rate was 8.4 per cent. That is significant progress but, of course, much remains to be done. We are the first to say it, including with regard to us. We must in particular increase the number of women appointed to staff officer positions.
For States to assume that responsibility, as you, Madam President, said, they must lead a real paradigm shift in their national armies. That is what France is firmly doing, with conditions and in a voluntary way. The French army now has one of the highest levels of women’s participation in the world, with a rate of 20 per cent overall and 15.5 per cent for military personnel.
France wants to go further. On 7 March, the eve of International Women’s Rights Day, the Minister of the Armed Forces, your colleague Florence Parly, announced a gender-equity plan to support France’s operational performance, which has three main objectives: to recruit women, to retain them throughout their careers and to promote gender diversity in the armed forces. Those goals will be achieved through very concrete measures, such as women’s participation in military leadership or a new approach to access to ranks and responsibilities.
As our Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Le Drian, recalled, the involvement of women in our national army and peace operations will be integrated into our third national plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000), which is currently being drafted, and specific cooperation actions will be undertaken in that direction. France also supports the participation of women in police and military training schools in several African countries, including courses on violence against women and girls and on the role of women in mediation.
Member States can count on France to continue to actively promote women’s participation in peacekeeping operations and in the overall women and peace and security agenda. The President of the Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, expressed the wish that equality between women and men, a major national cause of the five-year period, would also become a major international cause. That was a priority goal of our presidency of the Security Council in March. It is also a priority of our current presidency of the Group of Seven. The anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020 and the Beijing + 25 forum, which will take place in France the same year, provide a unique opportunity to give a fresh impetus to that agenda, despite the odds, and to ultimately enable its full implementation.
To echo the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, we should all be feminists, including those on the Security Council. The agenda that we are discussing today is at the heart of the revolution currently under way within the United Nations to promote the role of women and parity on every front. That revolution is of course essential in itself, but also for the success of multilateralism, to which we are committed now more than ever. That is to say how much France intends to continue to be a driver of this revolution, which nothing and no one can stop.