Wien, 5. October 2009 Press release

Plassnik: "Those who empower women contribute to the strengthening of peace and development"

Special Envoy criticises lack of implementation of Resolution 1325

Vienna, 5 October 2009 - "In the long run, peace, security and progress are simply impossible without the comprehensive integration of women," said Ursula Plassnik, Special Envoy of the Foreign Ministry for International Women’s Issues, in a statement made today.

The UN Security Council is currently examining the worldwide implementation of Resolution 1325, adopted unanimously in 2000. "The global organisation’s highest-ranking body for the safeguarding of world peace has created the necessary awareness. In 2000, this Resolution obliged all UN Member States to ensure the integration of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. This was a milestone. However, so far the tangible effects have been extremely meagre. The record is alarmingly clear: in the meantime, the zeal to implement Resolution 1325 has slackened, and in many places implementation has not even been started," stated Plassnik.

"I expect the international community of states to show a much stronger and more credible commitment to women, their rights, opportunities and contributions, particularly with regard to peace work. Indeed, Resolution 1325 must no longer merely serve as a basic reference paper but finally become a reality," continued Plassnik.

"We must not allow things to grind to a standstill. We also bear responsibility for future generations of women. Efficiency and globality must be the key terms and guiding principles of our further work. Let’s encourage men and women throughout the world to speak out loud against violence against women. But let us also draw up the necessary framework conditions and legal safeguards!" Plassnik went on.

"There are many examples of practical work that is overdue," stated Plassnik. “The current share of women in peace-keeping operations is 15 per cent at best. This is unsatisfactory, reduces the prospects of long-term success and must be changed.”

"The next important point concerns the transformation of victims into partners. In practical terms this means that women with their experiences and talents have to be included in peace negotiations. In conflict situations women and girls are victims and sufferers. But in most cases they are also the first to build bridges beyond the boundaries of conflict and ethnicity. This potential must be officially recognised and made use of. Basically, there is an urgent necessity to have more women sitting at the negotiating table and for women in the global village to be assigned responsibility at all levels," stated Plassnik.

"It is abominable that the rape of women and girls is still among the military objectives in conflict situations. By breaking such taboos - i.e. by making women military goals - severe damage is inflicted upon society. For this reason, to complement Resolution 1325, the Security Council in 2008 unanimously adopted Resolution 1820, which calls for an end to sexual violence against women and girls in military conflicts. The United Nations has sent out a signal against shame and taboo. But again, the acid test is in the implementation of all these promising words: the punishment of perpetrators - no matter whether they are wild soldiers, war lords greedy for power or brutalised government troops -  and the protection and extensive support of victims," continued Plassnik.

"As reality plainly demonstrates time and again, empowering women means strengthening peace and development. Those who invest in women invest in the future. There can be no turn for the better as long as one half of the population continues to be discriminated against. But one fact remains unchanged: the majority of the poor and deprived are women and girls. Women are deprived of their economic, social and political rights and their rights as citizens. In many countries laws prevent women from being financially independent. They are also discriminated against with regard to assets and inheritance. Women and girls have a right to both health care and education."

“The United Nations, too, can raise awareness of the necessity to strengthen its peace work by integrating more women. It is imperative, for instance, to discuss existing shortcomings and make practical suggestions for improvement at a revision of Resolution 1325 conference to be convened by the UN. This part of the UN’s remit needs an extra injection of political will. Words are not enough. Women in the global village need a signal showing them that they are being taken seriously by the world community and that their contribution is being recognised,” stated Plassnik.

“We have arrived at a decisive point. Men and women must meet the great challenges of a globalised world – peace, security, climate change, environmental protection, poverty reduction – together. Resolution 1325 may serve as a compass leading to a better future. The time remaining until the tenth anniversary of its adoption in October 2010 must be used for credible implementation steps,” concluded Special Envoy Ursula Plassnik.

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