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Canada National Statement - Women, Peace and Security Open Debate UN Security Council

October 29, 2019

Mister President,

I will now make a few additional remarks in a national capacity.

Thank you, South Africa, for presenting today’s resolution. As the Council President said this morning, it’s good to see a return to consensus. We commend South Africa’s focus on full implementation.

Like many, we would have liked to have seen stronger language on women human rights defenders, civil society, and sexual and reproductive health rights.

Mister President,

As many speakers have highlighted, this is the time to double down on the full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. But what does successful implementation of the agenda mean in practice?

To Canada, it means transforming how we work together.

There are three ways that we make this happen: through innovative partnerships, new approaches to funding, and by focusing on inclusion.

First, through Partnerships.

The WPS agenda demands that we reach across institutional and social silos, and rethink what it means to put gender at the heart of our peace and security efforts.

In Canada for instance, our National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is a partnership between nine ministries and agencies, including many with primarily domestic mandates. We recognise that peace and security are not just foreign policy or defence issues. Women around the world face intersecting forms of violence and discrimination, including in Canada, particularly among Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit People.

Partnerships based on mutual respect with other countries are equally important. In 2020, Canada will co-chair the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network with Uruguay, building on current chair Namibia’s excellent work. Through the WPS Focal Points Network we will continue to strengthen and support a global community dedicated to implementation of the WPS agenda.

We are also getting innovative about how we build partnerships to support women’s meaningful participation. Through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, Canada partners with Ghana, Zambia and Senegal to assess and address barriers and design bold interventions to make a difference for women in police and military institutions.

It could not be clearer: no country and no region has a monopoly on good ideas.

Canada's Chief of Defence Staff is also now Chairing a Women, Peace and Security-focused UN Network of his counterparts, and invites all Chiefs of Defence Staff to join.

By working with our many partners, we look forward to the day that instead of saying “we need to do more” we can say “we did it, and it worked”.  

The second way Canada is transforming how we work together is by funding those who need it most.

The hard work of implementation is done by women’s rights organizations that are under resourced.

Movements need funding.

We create barriers to implementation when we demand that transformational work happen on short funding cycles and sparse budgets.

That’s why Canada doubled its commitment to the Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund.

It’s why earlier this year we launched the Equality Fund to bring in partners, including the private sector, to provide unprecedented levels of resources to support women’s organizations and movements.

 It’s why we made a three year, $650 million commitment to close gaps in supporting sexual and reproductive health, including comprehensive sexuality education, strengthening reproductive health services, and prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence.

Sexual and reproductive health is not a bargaining chip. We cannot use women’s lives and their bodily autonomy as language to be negotiated away.

SRHR is core to this agenda, and it must continue to be as we recommit our efforts to the full implementation of the agenda.

Finally, Mister President,

We must be intentional about inclusion.

Where are the young people, the Indigenous women, the LBTQI communities, among others?

The price of exclusion is too costly for us to continue with the status quo. This Council has consistently repeated that women deserve a seat at the table, and yet there are crises around the world where women are shut out from the decisions that affect their own lives. For long enough, we have demanded that women justify their participation. To provide “the data” and explain their “special contributions”. It is time to put the burden of justification on those who continue to exclude half the population.

Civil society is the true leader in making WPS implementation inclusive. They are not just stakeholders, but equal partners, and are the ones who are showing us how to push back on push back in practice.

In light of today’s resolution, we also thank civil society, and especially the NGO Working Group, for brining the remarkable Alaa Salah, and through her, voices of Sudanese women. And for the Group’s leadership in pushing us to sustain our shared vision of this agenda and reminding us that our gains are still precarious.

In this spirit, Canada has formalized our relationship with civil society through our National Action Plan and continues to look to them to hold us accountable to our commitments.

Madam/ Mister President,

If elected to the Security Council for 2021, you can be assured that Canada will continue to champion the WPS agenda, and work with colleagues both inside and outside this chamber to make the transformational aspirations of the WPS agenda a reality. We must do this work now, and we must do it together.

Thank you.

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