Strengthening women’s role in building and sustaining peace

On December 7, over 200 delegates, including high-level dignitaries, diplomats, political leaders and women organizations and peacebuilding practitioners from around the world, attended the High-level Opening of the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security entitled Strengthening Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace: from Commitments to Results.

Delegates pose for a group photo at the event. Photo: UN Women Vietnam

 A international Conference on Women, Peace and Security entitled Strengthening Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace: from Commitments to Results underways on December 7-9.

The conference is organized by the Government of Vietnam in partnership with the United Nations, led by UN Women and UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Vietnam and supporting member states.

The three-day conference is organised in the in-person format in Hanoi and via video conference in over 70 nations.

The conference will reinforce the key messages of the report of the UN Secretary-General to the UN Security Council during annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security on 29 October 2020 commemorating the 20th anniversary of its landmark resolution 1325. The report provides a review of the progress of the last twenty years of implementation of Women, Peace and Security Agenda and outlines five goals to realize inclusive and sustainable peace in the next decade. These five goals will provide a key feature for the discussions during the conference, which seeks to contribute to creating a clear pathway forward in furthering implementation of the WPS agenda.

The conference will focus on commitments and results of women’s participation in building and sustaining peace and reflect on successful strategies for inclusion, women’s empowerment, and support for young women’s peacebuilding and conflict prevention work on the ground. Participants from across the globe will gather virtually and join partners in Vietnam to examine a range of themes, including women’s participation in peace processes, peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery, women in peacekeeping, women’s economic security and access to resources, and emerging trends and new context for WPS.

The event will provide the space for critical thinking around priorities, actions and acceleration of global, regional and national implementation, including through Action Plans on WPS. The participants will discuss priorities for the next decade and agree on a set of concrete commitments aimed at accelerating action and closing implementation gaps. These will complement and respond to the calls for action made in October by various networks and women’s organizations.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said that women over the world continue to affirm their role in conflict prevention and settlement and post-conflict reconstruction, actively participate in building and maintaining peace, and lead in orienting and promoting social development and progress.

However, women's lives and dignity are still threatened and many girls are not allowed to go to school as many countries and regions are facing wars, conflicts, poverty and epidemics, Minh stated, adding that gender violence remains a problem.

Women are also facing many political, economic and cultural barriers, and lacking necessary support to bring into full play their role. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the progress towards the realisation of sustainable development goals, and depriving resources used for protecting and promoting women’s rights on the globe.

Therefore, through the conference, Vietnam hopes the international community will continue affirming commitments to promoting gender equality, putting forward effective measures and attracting necessary resources to facilitate women’s engagement in building and consolidating peace and security, Minh stressed.

"Vietnam calls on the international community to heighten their commitment and determination in promoting cooperation on global gender equality. We should arrive at measures to mobilize resources for women’s more substantive role and participation in fostering and enhancing peace,” Minh said.

He suggested participants discuss the results achieved in the implementation of the global agenda on women, peace and security over the past 20 years and review the implementation of the UN Revolution 1325 on women, peace and security and related resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Minh affirmed that Vietnam considers promoting gender equality and intensifying women’s role and contributions to peace building important policy priorities both at home and in the international arena, especially at such multilateral forums as the UN and ASEAN.

Permanent Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong at the event. Source: UN Women Vietnam

“It is a consistent policy of the Party and State of Vietnam to fully promote the immense role and potential of women in our national construction and defense, to raise the standing of women, and to advocate gender equality in every domain: political, economic, cultural and social. These key lines for action have been enshrined in our Constitution, Law for Gender Equality, and numerous laws and policy lines. We have in place clear strategies and plans for economic and social development, in order to advance women's contributions in making Vietnam into a modern industrial country by 2045,” Permanent Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the fragile gains made in women, peace and security, increasing poverty, inequality and tensions around the world. Women are essential in the response. We must fully include them in all peace efforts and defend their human rights; decrease global military spending and spend more on gender equality; and get the data that can support rapid action. We need to put women at the centre, and listen and learn from women peacebuilders, including young women, whose vision and strength is at the heart of Generation Equality,” stressed Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women.

In a pre-recorded message sent to the conference, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “Vietnam has been a strong advocate for the women, peace and security agenda for over a decade now, working closely with the United Nations especially at the UN Security Council but also by deploying an increased number of female UN Peacekeepers. This global conference provides an excellent opportunity for government leaders, peacebuilders, experts and youth ambassadors to come together and drive forward action-oriented commitments to enhance the role of women in achieving peace and security at all levels from local to global. I strongly believe that Vietnam will remain at the global forefront of this agenda as it evolves in the future.” 

Mai Pham