Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us here today. I want to thank Susan for that introduction and take the opportunity to recognize USAID’s leadership in implementing the National Action Plan. The team at USAID should be commended for its continued commitment to building a world where women are recognized as key actors in stabilizing their communities and in building peace between warring factions. I also want to recognize those here in the audience who are investing their time and resources in shoring up women’s roles in peace and security – and to thank you for the incredible work that you do. We see the fruits of this labor on a regular basis at the State Department.
We are here to commemorate the third anniversary of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. As you know, this is the first of its kind. Even better, President Obama released the NAP through an Executive Order in which he laid out concrete steps that this Administration would take to elevate and support women as critical participants in preventing and resolving conflict.
Together, the National Action Plan and the Executive Order represent a fundamental change in how the USG leverages its diplomatic, military, and development power to support women in conflict — by ensuring that women’s perspectives and gender considerations are woven into the DNA of how the United States approaches peace processes, conflict prevention, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance. We have also used these foreign policy tools to influence other nations.
Over the past three years we have seen these efforts generate concrete steps across the world – from South Sudan to Egypt to Afghanistan to DRC – to bring more women to negotiation tables; to integrate solutions and justice for women into peace agreements; to ensure our humanitarian responses protect women; to recruit and retain more women throughout security sectors and criminal justice systems; and to restructure how soldiers, peacekeepers, and police officers are trained and equip them with tools to respond to the unique needs of men and women alike. We have invested in these efforts because we know from our own history that when women play key roles in decision making and leadership structures, the result is greater stability, stronger communities and more durable peace.
Progress had been hard fought and a result of herculean efforts from civil society groups here in the US and in host countries, many of which are represented here today. Within the USG, the success of our efforts has required sustained collaboration across the State Department, USAID, and the Defense Department. And where our diplomacy, development, and defense reinforce each other, we have seen better outcomes, even as we face increasingly challenging threats to international peace and security.
One of many examples – the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has galvanized a coalition within the US government to promote the inclusion of women in decision making for Syria’s future – including in peace negotiations. And while the United States is open-eyed about the prospects for near term stability in Syria and Iraq, the leadership and enthusiasm of these women offer a constant reminder that peace is possible. And we will continue to advocate for their formal inclusion in the peace process. At the same time, we are witnessing the Islamic State continues to kidnap, traffic and brutalize women and girls in Iraq and Syria – with a growing presence in other countries. We are discussing internally how to better protect these women and girls.
We are also looking internally at how to do more to implement the NAP; how to truly weave the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 into our diplomacy every day. The United States is committed to leading by example on Women, Peace, and Security, from investing in better training for diplomats to requiring gender analysis strategic planning for foreign assistance to integrating gender considerations into our procurement; we are improving how we do business.
But today, fifteen years after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and twenty years since the Beijing Platform for Action, we must also be humble about the global track record. 2015 is truly the year for the agenda of women, peace and security – and it must be a year of resounding affirmation that including women in decision making isn’t a nice thing to do; it’s the strategic thing to do.
As many of you know, the United States’ review of our NAP is only one aspect of a global culmination of efforts to advance gender equality. The UN’s high level review of 1325 is converging with parallel efforts to take stock of the UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding architectures that have significant impact on women. At the same time, we are pushing to place gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda – an unprecedented opportunity for the global community to come together around a new set of global development priorities. Together, we must seize on these efforts and continue to push for more action, to continue to be innovative in how we implement the NAP and move this global Women, Peace, and Security agenda forward.
In the spirit of partnership with civil society, we look forward to working with you on these efforts, especially in designing a review of our National Action Plan that positions the United States to remain a global leader on Women, Peace, and Security – across diplomacy, development, and defense. Let us all continue to work together on this path to achieving the goals laid out in the National Action Plan. Thank you for all your attention.