New York, 26 October 2010 Press release

"Still an embarrassingly small involvement of women in peace processes"

Austria’s Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger calls upon the Security Council to ensure more commitment to women in conflict situations

New York, 26 October 2010 – “Even though progress has been achieved, the participation of women in peace processes is still embarrassingly small,” declared Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger following today’s UN Security Council meeting, which was dedicated to the tenth anniversary of Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security.

In a joint press briefing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Spindelegger emphasised Austria’s commitment to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. “Women and girls have become particularly targeted in contemporary wars. Rapes are used as a brutal means of waging war. The majority of refugees are women and children,” continued the Foreign Minister.

Resolution 1325, which was adopted by the Security Council a decade ago, is directly aimed at improving the protection of women and their stronger involvement in peace negotiations and reconstruction. “At the same time many examples point to the fact that development aid implemented by affected women living in the region is both more efficient and effective,” asserted Minister Spindelegger, adding that “we have not yet managed, however, to institutionalise such knowledge”.

The Foreign Minister welcomed progress through such developments as the creation of UN Women, a new United Nations entity headed by former Chilean President Michele Bachelet, and the appointment of Margot Wallström as Special Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Spindelegger emphasised that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is committed to the stronger involvement of women and has contributed a great deal to ensure that more women assume responsibility for peace work in high-ranking positions and functions within the UN,” emphasised Spindelegger.

Today’s Security Council meeting saw the unanimous adoption of a declaration supporting - among other things - the introduction of indicators. “These indicators are more than simple statistics. We cannot move forward without practical goals and yardsticks measuring the success or failure of implementing a resolution. They will help to guide the international community to those areas where most remains to be done,” the Foreign Minister asserted. “If, for instance, in accordance with current estimates the participation of women in peace negotiations is still below ten percent, and if three hundred peace treaties of the past two decades contain only 18 references to sexual violence, this constitutes a clear signal that urgent action is required,” concluded Spindelegger.

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