Rebeca Grynspan: Global open day on Women, Peace and Security

Oct 25, 2010

Talking Points for Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator

QUESTION FROM MODERATOR: UNDP is often in countries long after crisis has officially ended. What are the connections between security and development for women?

•    Let me first extend my admiration and welcome to all the women activists who are with us today who have been the real force behind the  fight to give women a voice and a place in building peace and development: We at UNDP have heard you today, and we value the opportunity to learn about the different experiences you’ve had, and your suggestions for strengthening the UN system’s work in this important field.

•    As we all know, the end of a crisis can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder.  The end of active violent conflict might make a crisis less visible to the outside world because the TV cameras have left.  But this does not always mean that the crisis is over, especially for women and children that not only have been the most vulnerable during the crisis, but continue to be so in the post-crisis setting.  

•    It is at such moments that they need the continuous support of all and more advocates for their well-being, protection, participation and voice.  We know that unfortunately there is no “automatic” mechanism for this to happen, and more progress will be achieved only through persistent and continuous commitment and engagement of all actors in support of women efforts and voices on the ground.

•    At UNDP, we believe that that there is a two way street in the relationship between security and development:  peace and stability are pre-conditions to human development and inclusive development is essential to build real and long-term peace and stability. Women’s economic and political empowerment, the realization of their rights and the fight against discrimination and violence are central to prevent conflict and to “build back better” the social, political and economic fabric of societies.

•    Women must vote, they must run for office, they must take part in decisions on justice and security sector reform and they must be not only beneficiaries but ACTORS in the social and economic recovery. Women must participate and contribute to all stages of the peace process, from conflict prevention to peace building, from peace building to recovery and development.

•    The Women, Peace, and Security agenda is one of UNDP’s corporate priorities. Thanks to our continued presence in post-crisis settings, and - as we say in UNDP - because we are there “before, during and after”, we can, together with UN agencies and external partners, work towards keeping women’s needs and issues at the center of national and international post-crisis and development agendas.

•    In 2006 we established the Eight Point Agenda for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in Crisis Prevention and Recovery, to make UNDP’s response to 1325 more systematic.

•    Reflecting this, our Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery has committed to spending at least 15 percent of its programming budget on   women’s empowerment and participation, over and above its gender equality mainstreaming efforts. We exceeded this target in 2008, with 24 percent, and in 2009, with 23 percent.

•    One example of our support towards concrete change in the lives of women and girls in a post-conflict setting is in Burundi, where UNDP and UN partners supported the government to encourage women to register, vote and train to run for office. Nearly 51 per cent of the voters this year were women and Burundi now exceeds its 30 per cent quota for women in public office at the council, communal administrator, legislative, and senatorial levels. The percentage of women officials in the senate is currently the highest in Africa and the second highest in the world.

•    We also operate a large global program on rule of law. Our Global Programme on Strengthening the Rule of Law in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations is being implemented in over 20 countries and includes a strong focus on addressing women’s security and access to justice.

QUESTION FROM MODERATOR: What has proven to be the most difficult challenge to overcome in implementing UNSCR1325, and how are you and your staff working to overcome that challenge?

•    Let me outline a 5 point agenda:  

o    In the field, we have found that there is a significant lack of basic data about the way conflict affects women which do not always make the news headlines, but which make a difference in women’s post-crisis security and prosperity. To make the theme of the report “Make Women count for peace” which was handed to the Secretary General this morning, we need to literally count women.  So we firmly support disaggregating data based on gender — we need the numbers, to help us effect real change in women’s lives.   

o    To ensure gender responsive justice and to understand the special institutional arrangements needed for this to happen in practice.

o    Recovery and economic participation including women access to property rights, credit, jobs and economic opportunities.
o    Transform Governments to deliver for women.  This needs a long term commitment and a sustain effort that as said before sometimes is very difficult to sustain after the cameras have left!

o    And lastly, the challenge of the financing gap and the need for a sustainable allocation of resources.  This mirrors what we have heard from the women here today and in the Open Days: namely that there is a significant resource gap when it comes to financing gender equality and supporting women’s participation in decision making in the post-conflict context. This financing gap is something that needs to be addressed.

•     But let me now give you some examples of things that have been done on the ground:

o    In Liberia, for example, a UNDP programme supports the Liberian Institute of Statistics and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs to generate sex-disaggregated data. This information, previously unavailable, is vital for informing policy that will help women and girls.

o    In Papua New Guinea, UNDP is conducting an assessment to obtain baseline data on attitudes about, and patterns of, sexual and gender-based violence in Bougainville, a region with high levels of conflict-related sexual violence, with the goal of better informing government policies and programmes.

o    In Iraq, as part of a $50 million joint UNDP-government Poverty Reduction Initiative, a much-needed assessment of women’s roles in the private sector will soon take place. This assessment will provide evidence-based recommendations to identify and increase employment opportunities in the private sector for some of the 1-3 million Iraqi women living in or near the poverty line. 

•    Next week UNDP will share the results of its study of financing for gender equality. We examined whether and how resources were allocated and used in post-conflict reconstruction initiatives in places like South Sudan and Sierra Leone to promote gender equality and address women’s needs.

•    So, much remains to be done.  Resolution 1325 is really a landmark and progress has been achieved in this 10 years.  Now with the creation of UN Women and under the leadership of Michelle Bachelet these efforts will be strengthen and hopefully brought to scale with the support of all of us. 

•    Let me also congratulate my colleagues in UNIFEM, DPA, DPKO and PBSO for all the work done.  We look forward to working closely with you, Member States, civil society and our UN family to take this important agenda forward and further.

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