August 11, 2015
Remarks by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the important topic of gender and disarmament. The United States supports the full inclusion of women in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control affairs, and is committed to promoting women’s leadership and participation in the field of global security. Moreover, the United States acknowledges the vital role that women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and peace–building. We are committed to their full, active, effective, and equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security.
The United States has demonstrated a strong commitment to policies and programs that grow women’s leadership capacity in all areas of political participation and decision-making. We know countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity. Even more so, we know that including women and their perspectives in our conflict prevention efforts, our efforts to end wars and bring about just and sustainable peace, our efforts to protect civilian populations and hold accountable those that commit war crimes and crimes against humanity — is absolutely essential to international peace and stability, and to U.S. national security. Through the U.S. National Security Strategy and the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, the United States supports UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Wherever you look in the field of international security, U.S. women have made their presence known. From negotiating an historic agreement with Iran, locking down nuclear material all over the globe, or negotiating cuts in U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear stockpiles, the common thread is that U.S. professional women played an indispensable role.
The gendered perspectives of disarmament are a unique requisite for our collective efforts in the pursuit of sustainable global peace and security. We therefore commend advances in international best practice that are increasingly taking into account several factors, including the experiences and needs of female ex-combatants, the protection needs of communities hosting reintegrated individuals, and the contributions of women leaders in those communities who are building trust and supporting reintegration. The United States routinely encourages measures to more systematically promote women’s active participation and the provision of gender expertise in disarmament. Now, more than ever, diplomatic, stabilization, and peace building efforts should encourage increased dialogue between gender, security, and disarmament experts. The United States likewise recognizes the contributions of women to practical disarmament planning and implementation activities — at all levels of decision making. This approach is at the heart of our commitment to inclusion. Evidence shows that the equal participation of men and women in decision making is a sustainable approach to the prevention and reduction of armed violence and armed conflict, and in promoting disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
The United States is committed to advocating on behalf of women and closing the gender gap on all fronts — whether that be access to justice, opportunities for education, or leadership in politics and the security sector. This is evident not only through daily practices, but through the work by the U.S. Mission in Geneva on the International Geneva Gender Champions initiative. The new initiative, which was launched by Director-General Michael Møller and U.S. Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto on July 1, focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women and urges institutional and individual leaders in Geneva to join the United States in making a commitment to do what we can to break down the systemic barriers that are preventing women from fully contributing.
The International Geneva Gender Champions is a unique initiative because it invites permanent representatives and observers, and heads of the United Nations and other International Organizations, to join in and commit to undertake three concrete, measurable, and accountable institutional actions to advance gender equality. The first of these actions is to sign the Geneva Gender Parity Pledge, a pledge which has, since its launch on July 1, received seventeen signatories from international institutions and individuals in Geneva, including Ambassador Hamamoto. Going a step further, the International Geneva Gender Champions initiative asks leaders to undertake two more concrete and measurable actions of their choosing to advance gender equality. Through International Geneva Gender Champions Initiative, Ambassador Hamamoto and Director-General Michael Møller have asked that commitments be announced by September 30, 2015. Signatories are requested to follow up with their progress in September of 2016. The underlying premise of this initiative is not that it’s hard to make these commitments, but rather that it’s hard not to. In the future, the United States hopes to expand this leadership network to include more representatives, including leading NGOs and private sector partners who are interested in making similar commitments on behalf of their organizations.
In closing, the United States affirms the importance of promoting the participation of women in disarmament. As we approach the 15th anniversary of UNSC resolution 1325, a watershed moment that spurred global action in elevating women as equal partners in decision making about peace and security, the United States is committed to reaffirming that investing in women isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the strategic thing to do. Women, alongside men, should take their rightful place roles as technical experts, as representatives of civil society, as spokespeople, and as decision makers. We are committed to working with like-minded partners to achieve this goal.
Thank you Mr. President.