I would like to thank the Russian Presidency for organizing this important debate on Women, Peace and Security.
Italy aligns itself with the statements made by the EU and the statement of Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security. In addition, we fully support the statement made by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in the light of our cooperation related to the upcoming split mandate in the Security Council. As a member of the split term in the Security Council for 2017 and 2018, Italy, together with The Netherlands, will continue its sustained efforts to put gender at the heart of peace and security and encourage other countries to join us.
There is clear evidence that no sustainable and lasting peace is possible without women’s active involvement in peace processes. This is why Italy is at the forefront in supporting the full implementation of the UNSC Resolution 1325 and enthusiastically cosponsored the Res. 2242, which entails concrete steps to further promote the implementation of the Resolution 1325, especially in introducing new working methods for a more focused attention by the Security Council on the issue.
Over the last 16 years, we have witnessed significant advances in women’s role and inclusion in peace processes. The Women, Peace and Security Agenda has been greatly enriched, including by highlighting the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and children, the great benefits of enhancing the involvement of civil society and the absolute necessity to tackle the scourge of sexual violence as a tactic of war.
In spite of such achievements, much has still to be done. It is unconceivable that half of our societies are excluded from efforts to bring, restore and maintain peace and stability, and that half of our communities should bear disproportionally the cost of conflict. We need to move further from word to action: this is the spirit we are embracing as we approach our term on the Security Council. The promotion of women in peace and security must be achieved across the whole prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding agenda and across the whole UN.
As women’s active participation in peace processes is too often theoretical, we are called to take action within the Organization and within our national systems first.
To start with, nearly half of all peace agreements say nothing about women’s rights or needs, and there is still a majority of peace processes where women’s presence is still an afterthought. Although it is by now a proven fact that involving women in conflict prevention and resolution increases our chances of success, peacekeeping missions and peacebuilding efforts are dominated by men, even though increased women participation is fundamental for long-term stability and sustainable peace. Be it in conflict prevention, peace-making or peacebuilding activities, true gender equality and women’s empowerment and agency are an imperative.
This is why we are implementing the commitments made at the Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London last September, which recognized the indispensable role of women in peacekeeping, and in conflict resolution as a whole. In particular, Italy is committed to increasing the participation of women in uniformed roles, including police roles, and to promote the integration of women’s needs and gender perspectives into all aspects of peacekeeping. More women must be appointed in senior leadership positions both in our peacekeeping missions and in efforts toward conflict prevention and resolution. In this spirit, Italy has committed to support UNOWMEN’s initiative on the role of women in mediation. We are especially aware that opportunities must urgently be created for women in conflict areas to contribute to bringing dialogue, mediation and eventually peace to their countries.
Secondly, women and girls are increasingly victims of multiple and intersecting forms of discriminations and violence. Such risks increase in emergencies and in conflicts and post-conflicts situations. The Women, Peace and Security Agenda aims at addressing such risks, giving the issue of sexual violence in conflicts the centrality it deserves alongside the economic and political empowerment of women and their vital role in peace-building.
Italy is strongly committed to preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based crimes in conflict, as well as to opposing all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls. We are especially active in training Blue Helmets on these issues and we fully support of international initiatives for preventing sexual violence in conflict, both at the political and the operational level.
Thirdly, we believe that special attention to a comprehensive strategy is needed to prevent the radicalization women and girls, in order to ensure a viable alternative to nihilism and extremism, which has a dramatic impact on all of our communities.
Let me conclude that these are important priorities for Italy, and that we are cognizant that efforts are needed in all countries, not just developing or conflict-ridden ones. This is why we are currently reviewing the third iteration of our national Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security with a view to move the paradigm of women empowerment as “agents for change”.
But at the same time, we are aware that especially fragile states can greatly benefit from a joint effort to shape national-level policymaking and to generate strategic cross-national partnerships for gender equality. This approach is at the core of the 2030 Agenda, which recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that are based on respect for human rights for all.
We look forward to working with all States, members and non-members of the Security Council, the UN and regional organizations to turn this agenda into reality.