by Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovičs
at the Security Council Open Debate
Women and Peace and Security: Investing in Women in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding
21 October 2021
Latvia commends Kenya for convening this important debate and I thank the briefers M-me Sima Bahous of UN Women and M-me Bineta Diop of African Union and Mrs. Celia Umenza Velasco of the NGO Working group for their leadership in advancing the WPS agenda.
Latvia aligns itself with the statement of the EU and the statement of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security.
Latvia is a firm supporter of the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, which is a key element in the efforts to strengthen international peace. The call expressed by the Secretary General in his report “Our Common Agenda” to place women and girls at the centre fully applies also to the UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. Broad and meaningful involvement of women is a prerequisite to resolve conflicts in a sustainable way and to build lasting peace.
Today the situation is particularly worrying in Afghanistan, where women and girls risk losing their hard-earned rights in the past 20 years. It is the collective responsibility of the international community and, particularly, of the Security Council, to prevent the looming scenario, in which women would irreversibly lose equal access to education, employment and participation in decision-making. This will not only worsen the status of women and girls, but also undermine prospects for long-term stability and future development of Afghanistan.
The efforts to ensure women’s role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding must be stepped up in all conflict and post-conflict situations. We support the commitment demonstrated in the A4P+ (Action for Peacekeeping Plus) initiative to streamline the gender perspective in all aspects of peacekeeping. It is important to facilitate environment conducive to broader participation of women in every position of peacekeeping missions. Furthermore, we should not only increase the protection of peacekeepers against security threats, but also maintain focus on accountability of peacekeepers, not least with respect to any forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Latvia welcomes the efforts within the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to strengthen the role of women in the post-conflict phase. The adoption of the PBC’s Gender strategy in 2016, as well as its action plan constitute important step in this regard. We also welcome the fact that for the third consecutive year the Peacebuilding Fund has allocated 40% of its annual investment towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. Latvia is determined to be a strong voice of equal rights and full participation of women as a member of the PBC in 2022.
Latvia already contributes to facilitating the international debate on this topic. During this year’s session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Latvia organized a side-event on women participation in the military and peacekeeping. The discussion was aimed at encouraging women to reach their full potential as decision-makers and leaders in the military and peacekeeping. As an elected member state to CSW till 2025, and as a Vice-Chair of the CSW Bureau for the next two sessions, Latvia is committed to continue playing an active role in shaping and enforcing global standards and policies for gender equality.
The efforts to include women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding begin at the national level. Latvia has demonstrated strong track-record in this regard. We have adopted and are implementing Latvia’s National Action Plan on WPS for the term of 2020 till 2025. More than 15% of the military personnel of the National Armed Forces in Latvia are women. Meanwhile, in the State Police women constitute 30% of the personnel.
It is important to note that women occupy positions in all levels and positions of the respective structures - from the special forces’ operators to the executive leadership roles. This has been achieved by making military and police fully open to women, and by acknowledging their integral role in the future of these structures. We believe this is the approach, which should be promoted on national, regional and international level.
I thank you.