Statement by Ambassador Leonard at the Open AU PSC Open Session on the Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Peace building at the Community Level

Ambassador Leonard addressing the AU PSC Open Session the Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding at the Community Level

Mr. Chairperson, distinguished panelists, excellencies, I am very grateful for the opportunity to address this session on the role of women in conflict prevention and peace building.

Supporting women’s participation, voice, and empowerment in decision-making about security issues is key to achieving our shared efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability.

Last year, when President Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act into law, the United States became the first country to translate the Resolution 1325 agenda into national law.  The United States is committed to leading by example and to promoting efforts to address women’s under-representation in conflict prevention and peace reconciliation.

We are encouraged that 23 African countries and the African Union have developed National Action Plans (NAPs), even as we acknowledge that much work remains to close these gaps between formal policies and implementation.  The United States is taking action in Africa and globally to help close this gap by supporting the work of NGOs focused on (1) women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making; (2) protection from violence; and (3) conflict prevention.

Here in Addis, we also support the efforts of the AU’s Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace, and Security and the “AU Continental Women, Peace, and Security Results Framework” initiative to fortify the AU’s capacity to track and catalyze the implementation of existing instruments.

Moving forward, we encourage more inclusive recruiting and staffing across the security sector, making security institutions more effective and accountable.  Specifically, we should work to increase the recruitment of women, and train all staff to prevent and respond to human rights abuses and violations, including sexual exploitation and abuse.  We must also expand women’s leadership opportunities in economic, political, social, and security realms, during times of conflict and in peace.

As we develop security sector programs, we should conduct and integrate gender analyses into their design and collaborate with women’s organizations to make the security sector more efficient and participatory, and accountable to the needs of women and girls.  And, we must ensure that security policies, institutions, and programs protect and respond to the needs of the entire population.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the AU to promote women’s meaningful inclusion and participation across efforts to restore security and build peace.