France calls for the full participation of women in peace processes in Africa [fr]
The role of women in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the Unied Nations - Security Council- 28 March 2016
Through you, Madam President, France would like warmly to thank the delegation of Angola for organizing this open debate, which allows the Security Council, in the context of its work on the prevention and resolution of conflicts, to continue to add value to and to promote the crucial role of women on these issues. I also thank all the briefers for their precise and enlightening briefings on the evolution of the role of women and, I would even say, the real and potential power they possess in terms of settling conflict in Africa.
I heard the statistics and the information presented by the Executive Director of UN-Women, and the message is clear: women’s involvement in these issues is crucial for achieving lasting peace. The growing recognition of this fact is an important trend for the Organization, a deep-rooted movement in whose favour France is firmly committed. Our efforts should therefore focus on the ways in which to concretely implement that principle. What tools not only to strengthen but also ensure active participation by women in the prevention and settlement of conflicts? How can we ensure that all Council resolutions — from 1325 (2000) to 2242 (2015) — are fully and effectively implemented? I will try to answer those questions by stressing three points today. First, the decision-making power of women in peace processes must be enhanced by facilitating the participation of civil society. I remind everyone in the Chamber today that civil society is an indispensable force essential to any democratic process, and therefore to every post-conflict stabilization process. It is a simple equation: without civil society there is no inclusivity and, without that, there can be no lasting peace. It is therefore necessary that Governments open the doors to organizations representing women, if they want to lay the foundation for sustainable development. We are convinced that in our fight against climate change, women will play a decisive role. During the Council’s visit to Mali, we noted the wealth and dynamism of Malian civil society. Let us heed it, because it has something to say about the peace process under way. Its expertise and analysis can serve as a valuable guide to the implementation of the second national action plan for women and peace and security in Mali, which aims to involve women in the peace process. The support provided by UN-Women and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali is essential.
On a regional level, France also encourages the African Union to continue its efforts to give more space to women through its Gender, Peace and Security Programme, which the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Ms. Bineta Diop, spoke about compellingly. France also calls for the full participation of women in all ongoing and future peace processes and dialogues in Africa. What goes for Mali also applies to Burundi, the Great Lakes region and the Sahel region. It is a real priority. Finally, at the national level, France is working closely with civil society. During the sixtieth session of Commission on the Status of Women, which came to an end a few days ago, Ms. Laurence Rossignol, France’s Minister for Families, Children and Women’s Rights, incorporated into her delegation nearly 20 organizations representing women. In France, civil society is an integral part of women’s rights diplomacy.
Secondly, the role of women in the prevention and settlement of conflicts should be increased as part of our strategies against violent extremism and terrorism. The African continent was tragically and repeatedly struck by the recent attacks in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, as well as by the constant deadly attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia in particular. We know women are victims of intolerable violence on a daily basis that is an affront to the human conscience. Terrorist groups target them, exploit them, reduce them to sexual objects and sell them in public squares or online. Women are objects of a parallel economy, victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes and the trafficking in them finances the activities of terrorist groups. That is the very condition of women and their rights, which are denied. Above all, we must give women the means to reverse that logic of control, so they can make decisions about their bodies, their lives and the society in which they live. To do that, women must have access, including in conflict situations in Africa, to sexual and reproductive rights and health services, to education and economic resources.
Women are not just victims of terrorist groups; they have multiple roles to play. I am convinced that the women and peace and security agenda must be fully integrated into counter-terrorism strategies. The fight against terrorism and violent extremism is a common undertaking and, to be effective, no stakeholder should be neglected. Women are an integral part of the fight against terrorism and it is essential to provide them with the necessary means to play their parts.
Finally, and thirdly, we must redouble our efforts to reintegrate women associated with armed groups. Women who have suffered the violence of conflict are often marked by a considerable post-conflict stress: they bear the stigma of sexual violence. We must ensure that they are able to return to their societies and their communities of origin. That return is often violent. Husbands, families and the labour market all reject them. Therefore, it is crucial that women who are liberated from those armed groups should enjoy — just like men or soldiers — disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. Similarly, it is necessary for security sector reform (SSR) programmes implemented in post-crisis situations to take into account women and gender issues. Without that proper rehabilitation, women will remain marginalized and represent a gap in the rebuilding of societies. It is time for DDR and SSR to become more female-oriented. That is why France, within the framework of its national women and peace and security programme, covering the period 2015-2018, has contributed to several programs in Africa, devoted to, among other things, social cohesion, education, access to justice for women in post-conflict situations on the continent.
The future of Africa is in the hands of its people, especially its women. Today they continue to be victims of the conflicts ravaging the continent, and it is therefore up to the United Nations to give them the tools to serve as stakeholders in the peace of tomorrow. The Council can count on the full support of France to assist women in post-conflict situations in Africa.