Women, Peace and Security
Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador David Roet on 28 October 2014
Thank you Madam President.
This debate marks the fourteenth anniversary of resolution 1325 and provides an important opportunity to address the persistent and emerging gaps to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.
Last week I read a story about Amsha, a Yazidi woman from northern Iraq who was captured by Daesh in August. Amsha watched in horror as jihadi fighters separated the men. Her husband was ordered to lie face down on the ground. One by one the jihadists passed over the men and shot them in the head.
The women were taken to Mosul and held prisoner with hundreds of other women and girls. Every day, men entered the room to pick out a girl. They sold Amsha for $12. The man who bought her viciously raped and beat her. Stories like Amsha’s are emerging every day.
Their testimonies - forced conversions, forced marriage, sexual assault, displacement, and slavery – are what we would expect to read about in the Dark Ages, not in the Twenty-First Century.
Daesh is just one of the radical extremist groups that seek to subjugate women. There is Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, like-minded militias in Libya, Al Shabaab in East Africa, and Hamas in Gaza. They seek to control every area of a woman’s life - how she dresses, where she goes, how she spends her money, whom she marries, and how many children she has.
Around the world, women continue to be marginalized and minimized. Today, the majority of the world’s poor are women. They earn only three-quarters as much as men and are frequently locked out of leadership and decision-making positions.
The tragedy is that when women face barriers to achieving their potential, entire societies suffer. The truth of the matter is that women’s economic empowerment lies at the heart of sustainable development.
We know that when a woman generates her own income she re-invests 90% of it in her family and community. And we know that eliminating gender gaps in labor force participation can lead to big jumps in income per capita. To put it more simply, when we boost the participation of women, we boost the growth potential of an entire nation.
Supporting women’s economic empowerment requires meaningful policy interventions – beginning by including women in the decision-making process. Women bring unique ideas, priorities, and expertise to bear on challenging political problems. Creating opportunities for women and girls advances security and prosperity for everyone.
Take Rwanda as an example. Rwanda’s legal system guarantees equal rights in terms of land ownership and inheritance and its constitution enshrines gender equality. Thanks to this strategy, Rwanda tops the world for women in parliament - 53 percent in 2013 - and the nation has made impressive progress towards reducing poverty and inequality.
Israel understands the tremendous benefits of investing in every member of society. We celebrate different ways of life, we value diversity, and we believe that every person should choose how to live his or her life.
From the prophetess Devorah to Miriam and Queen Esther, Jewish history is rich with female leaders. More recently, courageous women from Hannah Senesh to Dorit Beinisch have left their mark on the Jewish people and the Jewish State.
In fact, our Declaration of Independence was signed by two women – Golda Meir and Rachel Cohen - and Israel had a female Prime Minister before many other countries granted women the right to vote.
In Israel, we understand that women’s participation is a game changer. That is why two of the last three chief justices of our Supreme Court have been women and the current Israeli Parliament has more women than ever before. In recent years, Israel has welcomed its first female Major General, elected a female chairman to our federal bank, and three women were appointed to head our leading banks. Israeli women are agents of change, drivers of progress, and makers of peace.
Given the chance, this could be true for all the world’s women – but we have work to do.
We must persist in our efforts to advance gender equality until all women can dress as they like, be educated as they choose, work where they wish, marry the person they love, raise their families as they see fit, and make the choices that will determine the course of their lives.
It is up to us to uphold these freedoms. And so I urge everyone - all women and men who wish to see a more peaceful planet – to bet on women. Invest in women. Ensure they have opportunities. Support their right to be a part of the decision-making process. I promise that you will not be disappointed.
Thank you, Madam President.