Helen Clark: Speech at N-Peace Awards Ceremony Honouring the Achievements of Women Peacebuilders and their Male Allies

Oct 23, 2015

I am pleased to welcome you to this N-Peace Awards Ceremony, where we are honoring eight women and two men who have made extraordinary efforts to build peace in their communities and countries.

N-Peace stands for “Engage for Peace, Equality, Access, Community, and Empowerment.” It is a network of more than 2,400 advocates, practitioners, government officials, media personnel, and academics who share the goal of advancing the women, peace, and security agenda in Asia.  

The network was launched in 2010 by UNDP, and operates in six countries in Asia -- Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Philippines.  It has trained more than 120 women there to mobilize and train others to advance women’s leadership for peace. 

Over the last five years N-Peace has recognized more than forty women and men with N-Peace awards. More than 200,000  people have voted online for nominees after reading the stories of the nominees’ work. These stories are shared on the N-Peace website as part of the selection process.

This year’s award winners were selected from the 104 nominations received from members of the public in the six participating countries. The 28 finalists were chosen through a public online vote in which nearly 40,000 votes were cast. This shows widespread interest in the awards.

Finalists were then considered by a panel of international judges comprised of seven prominent policy-makers, advocates, and thought leaders.  I am pleased that one of the judges, Major General Patrick Cammaert, joins us here today. He has been a pioneer for advancing the agenda on women, peace, and security within armed forces around the world. 

This year, for the first time, the N-Peace Awards are being held here in New York. We meet today soon after the fifteen-year anniversary and global review of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. That resolution drew attention to the disproportionate and unique impacts of conflict on women and girls, and raised global awareness of the importance of women’s participation and leadership in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. 

Since Resolution 1325 was adopted, seven other Security Council resolutions have reaffirmed and built upon it, including last week’s new resolution, 2242, which was co-sponsored by 71 Member States and unanimously adopted by the Council. It outlines actions aimed at redoubling Member States’ efforts to ensure that women can participate in all aspects of peacebuilding, and that adequate resources and capacities are mobilized for implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda. Resolution 2242 is also significant for its recognition of the important role of civil society in advocating for the agenda, and for encouraging Member States and the UN to include civil society in peace mediation, national dialogues, and peace processes.

Today we honor civil society leaders with these N-Peace awards.  Given the number of complex and protracted conflicts around our world and the rise of violent extremism, the unwavering commitment to peace embodied in the work of today’s award winners is more important than ever. Their stories are examples of how Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security can be reflected in actions which make a difference to the lives of people. 

UNDP is a strong supporter of the work of women peacebuilders and their male allies. We have facilitated the inclusion of women leaders at the center of national dialogues and constitutional and lawmaking processes. We support civil society partners with training and technical assistance.

The N-Peace initiative is managed from our Asia-Pacific regional hub in Bangkok, and is one example of our work. Other examples include the following: 

• In Afghanistan, more than one hundred religious leaders were able to increase their understanding of women’s rights in Islam after attending training supported by UNDP.

• In Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNDP is working with local civil society organizations to provide legal aid and psychosocial and medical support to hundreds of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

• In Colombia, UNDP supported the participation of women victims in the peace negotiations process. In 2015, victim participation in these negotiations set a precedent for the recognition and realization of women’s rights and reparation for female victims of armed conflict.

Today we will hear about specific experiences from Asia which demonstrate how effective women are at building peace. The award winners and their organizations show us how a global agenda can be implemented at the community level. Civil society engagement is the heart and soul of these efforts, as are the active participation and voices of women as change agents and peacebuilders.  

Women must be full partners in peacebuilding processes. Mediators, facilitators, and leaders in peace processes must be proactive in including women in all aspects of peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. 

Now, I turn to our awardees. As you will soon see in the short films about their work, their journeys have not been easy. They work in challenging and often hostile environments.  Their personal resolve and bold determination have got results. I commend their efforts to include marginalized groups in peacebuilding processes.  

The ten awardees have been selected across three categories: Untold Stories: Women Transforming their Communities; Peace Generation: Young Women and Men Building Peace; and Campaigning for Action: Women and Men Mobilizing for Peace. The awardees will be introduced individually, so I will not talk in detail about their many impressive achievements now.  

The achievements of today’s honorees offer compelling proof of the profound differences which empowered women can make in building resilient communities and nations in times of crisis and conflicts. I hope you will all be inspired by their stories.

Thank you for attending the ceremony today.

UNDP Around the world