I wish to thank the Russian Presidency at the Council for arranging this important debate on WPS agenda and its excellent leadership of the Council this month. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the landmark resolution 1325, I congratulate the Council and all UN Member States for their contribution to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
I thank the Secretary-General for his statement and take note of his 2020 report on WPS. I also thank the briefers for sharing their useful insights with us today.
Bangladesh aligns itself with the statement made by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security
I wish to recall Bangladesh’s pioneering role as a non-permanent member of the Council in the adoption of SCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security in October 2000. It was during Bangladesh’s Presidency in March 2020, under the leadership of Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, a Presidential Statement was issued on 8th March 2000 (International Women’s Day) recognizing the role of women in peacemaking and peacekeeping. That eventually led to the adoption of Resolution 1325.
There have been significant qualitative changes in UN peacekeeping with the participation of women peacekeepers. Women’s participation have been found to make peacekeeping more humane, robust and sustainable. They have a different level of outreach – with women, children and families – and can bring different life experience and perspectives to the communities they serve.
With the changing nature of conflicts and the wider responsibilities peacekeepers are undertaking, the utility of women in uniform is increasing; with specific roles that are more suited for women peacekeepers. Bangladesh also had a pioneering role in sending women to peacekeeping missions. The feedback we get from our women peacekeepers only fortifies our conviction in the indispensability of women in peacekeeping operations.
Women peacekeepers contribute to reducing gender-based violence and to preventing conflict in areas where they serve. They provide a higher sense of security especially to women and children, who often come forward and share their sufferings and miseries with women peacekeepers. This builds greater trust between the host communities and the peacekeepers which has an important bearing on the success of peace operations.
Women peacekeepers have proven to be particularly effective in post-conflict settings where sexual violence is rampant and mostly not addressed. On many occasions, the victims, who are usually silenced by the societal norms, have gathered courage and spoken out to the women peacekeepers. We all know that breaking the silence is the first step in the journey to justice.
In line with Bangladesh’s firm commitment to advancing women’s rights and gender equality, Bangladesh adopted its first National Action Plan on SCR 1325 in 2019. Our National Action Plan recognizes the adverse effects of conflict on women and girls and prioritizes gender equality in all aspects of our engagement in international peace and security, including peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
As a leading TPCC, Bangladesh is also one of the frontrunners in sending women peacekeepers, with over 1700 of them deployed in various missions. We are also taking measures to deploy more women officers to fulfill the target set by the UN of 15% Staff Officers/Military Observers in UN peacekeeping missions. We are championing the A4P WPS agenda along with other partners.
We strongly support DPO’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy and the Secretary General’s efforts towards ensuring gender parity in senior appointments under the System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity. However, there is clearly much more to be done, not only in enhancing the number of women peacekeepers on the ground, but also women in leadership positions; in peace negotiations. We earnestly hope that the Secretary General, in keeping with his commitment to achieving gender parity in women’s representation in senior positions in the UN system, will also appoint women as force commanders/SRSGs in field operations and political missions.
Increasing women’s leadership in peacekeeping would require a holistic approach to women’s role in peace as a whole, both in civilian and military capacities. Women need to equally and meaningfully participate at all the stages of the peace process, from the making of peace to its implementation on the ground. They also need to be adequately trained to take up higher responsibilities. On the same vein, women friendly space and environment in the mission setting is also an important pre-requisite to having more women in peacekeeping.
Implementation of the WPS agenda is a key to achieving all these. While the national governments need to accelerate their efforts by developing and implementing their respective national action plans, the international community, especially the UN has an important role to play too. The WPS agenda has to be internalized across the UN system particularly in the UN country programmes. Let us step up our collective efforts towards that end.
In this regard, Bangladesh underscores the importance of the increased, sustained, flexible, and coordinated funding for the full implementation of the SCR 1325 and the WPS agenda.
Bangladesh has been making her best efforts to ensure women’s empowerment and participation in all spheres of our lives. In our endevour to further strengthen the WPS agenda, we are willing to learn from the best practices around the world and ready to share our experiences with others.
I thank you.