Canada’s National Statement for the UN Security Council Open Videoconference (Debate): “Women, Peace and Security: Twentieth Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) - Focusing on Better Implementation”

October 29, 2020

Madame/Mister President,

This anniversary year has been a year like no other. While we had planned to celebrate progress since the adoption of UNSCR 1325 twenty years ago, 2020 has instead – ironically – proven how fragile this progress has been.

Hard-fought gains in advancing gender equality and inclusion have, in some instances, eroded in just a few months, due to COVID-19 and inadequate pandemic response. Women, racialized and marginalized communities are suffering disproportionately from shifting government priorities, increased domestic and sexual and gender-based violence, limited access to sexual and reproductive health care, and economic insecurity.

At the same time, women peacebuilders and human rights defenders are demonstrating once again that they are essential leaders in emergencies and play key roles in addressing basic needs, defending human rights, and preventing further conflict and instability.

This year, we have also witnessed blatant and often violent expressions of racism, and are reminded how deep-rooted gender-based discrimination, violence and racism are. It is clearer than ever that we need profound, structural change.

As Canada develops our Feminist Foreign Policy and implements our second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, we are striving to address the persistent inequalities between women, men, girls and boys, and to transform power relations and discriminatory social, political, legal and economic systems and structures.

Canada stresses that our collective focus must be on addressing critical gaps in the full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. On this 20th anniversary, women and girls are counting on us to increase our resolve, not diminish it. This includes support for and protection of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and for a more inclusive agenda.

We commend the Council for inviting civil society activists to share their expertise with Council members. Recommendations must now be translated into informed decisions for action.

Listening to women peacebuilders and human rights defenders ensures our policies, programming and interventions are attuned to the realities on the ground.

As co-chair of the WPS Focal Points Network together with Uruguay, Canada has heard directly from women peacebuilders from all over the world. More than anything else, they have clearly articulated that they lack sustainable, reliable financial support.

To address this important gap, Canada increased its financial contributions, including to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) and the Equality Fund initiative, a first-of-its-kind global platform that brings together government, philanthropic, private sector and civil society actors to create a sustainable source of funding for women’s organisations and movements for years to come.

But we need to do more. That’s why Canada will be launching a number of new initiatives, including a dedicated funding envelope focused on women peacebuilders, with an emphasis on supporting efforts at the grassroots level.

Canada is also pleased to serve as co-lead of the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, and as a Catalytic Member of the WPS and Humanitarian Action Compact – both important initiatives under the Generation Equality Forum. We look forward to working with partners to accelerate progress.

We must hold ourselves and each other accountable for turning words into action. This includes the commitments made by UN entities operating in fragile, conflict and crisis-affected settings to consult and partner with diverse women’s civil society actors to inform their analysis, planning, and programming. If implemented, these commitments hold the promise of improved outcomes for sustainable peace.

We must all track our efforts, evaluate our results, and collaborate in exchanging best practices. We should not underestimate the power of impact-driven, evidence-based action plans and initiatives in this regard.

For example, as lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, Canada has launched the Call to Action Road Map for 2021-2025. With an increased focus on gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, localization, intersectionality and the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, the Road Map provides us with opportunities to make strong commitments that align with the WPS agenda.

Under the framework of the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, Canada and Norway have funded the development of a barrier assessment tool, to assist police and military institutions in enhancing their integration and deployment of uniformed women. This tool has been made public, with funding available through UN Women’s Elsie Initiative Fund to complete these assessments. Increasing the meaningful participation of uniformed women in UN peace operations is a priority.

Inclusion is at the core of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, whether it be in peace operations, at the grassroots, at the negotiating table, or in decision-making processes; sustainable peace cannot coexist with inequality and exclusion. Canada believes that working together, with smart investments of our energies and resources, and a clear-eyed focus on our goals, we can and we will bring about the transformational change that resolution 1325 has set in motion. 

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