Helen Clark: "Side by Side: Women, Peace and Security"

Jul 18, 2012

Event to launch
“Side by Side: Women, Peace and Security”
- an Australian Government / UN Women documentary production -


I congratulate the Australian Government and UN Women on the making of this powerful film: “Side by Side: Women, Peace and Security”.

Crisis and conflict increase the economic and social vulnerability of women and girls.  With more than one fifth of the world’s population estimated to be living in states which are considered fragile, it is a very high development priority to address the challenges this film portrays.

Fragility, conflict, insecurity and lack of development are all intimately related.  No state considered fragile is currently on course to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals. 

But transitions away from crisis and conflict also offer opportunities to transform societies, including by addressing longstanding inequalities. The explicit recognition in landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 that for peace and security to be sustained, women must be empowered, their voices heard, and participation guaranteed gives momentum to the women, peace, and security agenda. 

The UN Secretary General noted in his 2010 Report on Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding that “Ensuring women’s participation in peacebuilding is not only a matter of women’s and girls’ rights. Women are crucial partners in shoring up three pillars of lasting peace: economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy.” UNDP agrees, and is strongly committed to supporting the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.   

Back in 2006, UNDP developed an Eight Point Agenda for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in Crisis Prevention and Recovery.  It focuses on security, justice, participation and leadership, gender-sensitive recovery and building capacities for social change.

Since 2010, we have also worked in line with the Secretary General’s 7-point action plan to expand women’s participation in peace-building.  Working with other UN entities, UNDP co-leads in three broad areas:

  1. ensuring women’s meaningful participation and leadership in conflict prevention and post-conflict governance;
  2. promoting inclusive economic recovery; and
  3. supporting access to justice for women and girls who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.  We do this within our programming aimed at strengthening the rule of law and reforming justice and security sectors.  

In 2009, we placed senior gender advisers in Liberia, Burundi, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Kosovo, Nepal, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Haiti, to support governments in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and provide broader technical assistance.

Around the world we have seen inspirational action taken by women’s peace organizations and coalitions to help bring about peace, including in Guatemala, Burundi, and Bosnia. Following the genocide of the 1990s in Rwanda, women emerged as central arbiters of peace and reconciliation there.  In Liberia, women pushed for the disarmament of the fighting factions before the signing of a peace accord, making a vital contribution to the peaceful resolution of years of conflict.

In UNDP’s work, we aim to help expand the opportunities women have to participate in the negotiations which can put a country back on a path to peace and stability.

In Timor Leste, we supported increased women’s participation in informal peace processes and mediation.  In Fiji, we supported women to be a part of the first broadly based dialogue between state officials, members of the military council, and non-governmental organizations to be held since the current military-led government took power.

Women are still under-represented at peace tables, donor conferences, and in decision-making, planning and budgeting in post-crisis settings. Financing for gender equality in post conflict recovery and reconstruction needs to be a much bigger priority in budgets.

UNDP will continue to work closely with all parts of the UN system, especially UN Women and UN Action to make women, peace, and security a priority. 

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