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SPEECH/ 09/498

Margot Wallstr ő m

Vice-President of the European Commission

Women, peace & security

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED


European Development Days

22 October 2009, Stockholm

Your exce llencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you SIDA for organising a round-table on the extremely important and very timely topic women & security, here at European Development Days in Stockholm. This is a topic very close to my heart, and my commitment to act on sexual violence and the protection of women is longstanding.

Today’s statistics of female participation in peacekeeping missions are shameful. The extent to which governments and international organisations have entrusted women’s role in society with the mandate of envoys, peace mediators and facilitators is very low.

To give you a few examples:

  • All eleven EU Special Representatives promoting EU interests in troubled areas of the world are men

  • Only seven out of over 130 European Commission Delegations have a female head

  • In peace processes, women average less than 10% of negotiators

  • Representation of women in European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) missions is only 6%

  • According to UNIFEM research, out of 300 peach agreements since the Cold War, only 10 countries have mentioned sexual violence. And in the case of ceasefires, sexual violence is rarely mentioned

All these figures point to one thing: things must change! I believe positive action is the way to go, in order to reach at least the critical mass of 30% female representation in peacekeeping missions.

I am grateful for all the US engagement and hard work in the field of women & security. Today we have four UN Security Council Resolutions dealing with the protection, prevention and empowerment of women, as well as punishment of perpetrators: UNSC 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889. The momentum for change is certainly there. But resolutions without implementation do not help! In the EU, we always say that a directive is only as good as it is implemented. Currently, only 21 countries across the globe have developed National Action Plans (NAPs) on women, peace and security. Of these countries, 14 are European, and 11 EU Member States. A fair share, but this is not enough!

Evidence shows that countries that have developed NAPs on women, peace and security are performing better in areas such as training of military and civilian staff on gender equality issues and women’s representation in top diplomatic posts.

The EU’s own Action Plan on UN Resolution 1325 is the so called “EU Comprehensive Approach on women, peace and security”. It was adopted by EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs in December 2008, and consists of two pillars:

1/ Strengthening the EU’s internal work on women, peace and security

This involves strengthening the monitoring and preventive role of our 23 ESDP missions and operations, as well as creating synergies between activities during crisis management and those related to short, medium and long-term recovery. A concrete example here is that we today apply a systematic gender analysis in our election observation missions. In order to promote women’s empowerment, we note the number of women voters, their access, the presence of women as candidates, and the consideration of women issues in political platforms.

The other pillar of EU’s Action Plan on women, peace and security consists of

2/ EU’s global advocacy for the full implementation of UNSC 1325 on women, peace & security

The European Commission has established and supports several cross-regional venues for dialogue and action on the promotion of gender equality – one recent example being the Monrovia Conference in March 2009 on women’s empowerment, leadership development and international peace and security.

One big challenge today is to establish coordinated efforts to promote women’s rights during crises with post-conflict efforts. The EU has a strong ambition to address this problem in our Comprehensive Approach, by establishing a consultation mechanism between the ESDP gender focal point and relevant services at EU Headquarters.

Looking ahead to the 10 th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the planned Review Conference in autumn 2010, it is clear that the big remaining challenge is the one of women’s participation in peace building. Without involving women in peacekeeping, we cannot advance in the field. We must target the problem of violence against women at its roots, and enhance women’s role in society! This is the only way to go.

Thank you.


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