Initial Statement by Ambassador Hamamoto at Women, Peace, and Security Panel

WomenInitial Statement by Ambassador Hamamoto at Women, Peace, and Security Panel

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Helga.

It is a real privilege and pleasure to be here with all of you today.

Women’s ideas and inspiration for lasting peace and justice are at the heart of U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world.

They‘re at the heart of what U.S. Mission Geneva is doing with initiatives like The Future She Deserves and Geneva Gender Champions.

Today, I’m thinking of all the women who have worked for peace, when they had lost what they held the most dear, putting their own life in jeopardy, whether they were at the negotiating table or not.

Women like Leymah Gbowee, who led thousands of Liberian women to stand up to a brutal regime and bring an end to a long civil war.

But also women like former U.S. Ambassador Swanee Hunt who experienced firsthand what it means to be the only woman in the room.

After 14 days of non-stop negotiations at our Embassy in Vienna between warring factions in Yugoslavia, she stood up and turned around, only to realize that she hadn’t seen the obvious.

“It was all grey suits,” she would later recall.

I’m thinking of all these women, know or unknown, who have put their differences and grievances aside to stop the violence — mothers, sisters, and daughters who are determined to challenge the status quo.

And then I look at the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

And I see a commitment, the fundamental commitment of the United States to the pursuit of gender equality and the empowerment of women as agents of change.

Our goal is clear:  to ensure that women’s voices are heard, not marginalized; that women’s views are included, not sidelined; and that women’s needs and interests are served, not ignored.

Make no mistake:  Promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls are central to my country‘s national security strategy and foreign policy.

When President Obama talks about countering violent extremism, he talks about expanding education and opportunity for women and girls.  The same is true of Secretary Kerry when he says that “Investing in Afghan women is the surest way to guarantee that Afghanistan will sustain the gains of the last decade and never again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”

There‘s this notion — you’ve heard it at the last Power of Empowered Women event — that war is guys with guns, and therefore that peace needs to be guys with guns.

This is obsolote!

Including women in decision making isn’t a nice thing to do; it’s the strategic thing to do.

And nowhere is it more true than when it comes to peace processes.

Numbers don’t lie:  According to UNDP, peace processes that include women are 64 percent less likely to fail — a number to keep in mind when we remember that more than half of all peace agreements fail within the first 10 years of signature.

Thank you for having me.

I’m looking forward to our conversation.