Remarks by Ambassador Jessye Lapenn at the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC)

Jessye Lapenn 
U.S. Ambassador to the African Union
at the African Union Peace and Security Council
October 17, 2019

(As prepared for delivery)  

Good morning Mr. Chairperson, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. It is my absolute honor and pleasure to address the Council today for the first time since my arrival to Addis as the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. I thank many of you for the warm welcome I’ve already received. I look forward to meeting all of you, and working with you on behalf of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Africa.

Mr. Chairperson, thank you for today’s session on the role of women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in Africa. Supporting women’s participation, voice, and empowerment in decision-making about security issues is key to achieving our shared policy objectives. In June, the White House launched our Strategy on Women, Peace and Security. It laid out the crux of the issue: “Social and political marginalization of women strongly correlates with the likelihood that a country will experience conflict.”

Conflict, humanitarian crises, and high rates of gender-based violence often create an overwhelming burden on African women. However, the continent has also served as a model for increasing women’s formal participation in economic and political institutions. Women are at the heart of Africa’s path to prosperity, and essential actors to build durable peace. We applaud and look to continue to support the efforts of dozens of African countries to develop National Action Plans (NAPs) for UNSCR 1325 implementation.

To this end, to advance implementation, the United States will continue our efforts in four key areas:

  • One, lead by example at home by adapting our planning, analysis, training, and programs to enhance our global efforts that focus on women’s empowerment, peace, and security.
  • Two, the preparation for and meaningful participation of women in formal and informal decision-making processes related to peace, conflict, and crises. Crucially, this includes increased access of women to U.S.-funded trainings.
  • Three, protecting women and girls’ rights, especially ensuring safety from gender-based violence, and equal access to humanitarian assistance;
  • And finally, supporting and mobilizing new partners to advance women, peace, and security by promoting the development of NAPs and other policy frameworks that improve the meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes and institutions.

As part of the U.S. commitment to address terrorism and violent extremism, we submitted to our Congress, the first-ever strategy to support women and girls at risk from violent extremism. To address women’s varied roles and experiences, the strategy mobilizes new partners and resources to address this issue. We encourage others to develop similar efforts, and to integrate them into their peace and security frameworks and stand by to share our lessons learned.

We look forward to continuing our partnership to promote gender equality and women’s meaningful participation across all efforts to restore security and build peace. Thank you.