Your Excellency Dr Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo
I want to start off by expressing my gratitude to Her Excellency Vjosa Osmani, President of the Republic of Kosovo for bringing us all here today to discuss a very topical subject: the role of women in fostering peace and security around the world.
Last March, I had the honour to host President Osmani, in Malta for a very similar event where we spoke about ‘just peace’.
During our deliveries we both acknowledged the role of women in achieving a peaceful and just world.
I recall that on that day, President Osmani stated that ‘long term peace is always possible when women are also included at the table of peace and dialogue.’
I cannot agree more with this statement and want to add that prior to delving into the merits of international law, of rights and of freedoms, we need to acknowledge that reinforcing the role of women in all aspects of life is, in itself, a direct contribution to a more democratic, just and equitable world.
We all know however, that the situation on the ground, unfortunately, is very different.
Women are still very much underrepresented at decision making levels; they are exposed to violence, and in many circumstances deprived of formal education and put in the most vulnerable of situations.
According to the UN publication ‘Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2022’, if one considers the current progress on SDG 5 related to gender equality, it may take up to 286 years to remove discriminatory laws and close prevailing gaps in legal protections for women and girls. With regard to the other SDGs, the situation, unfortunately, is also bleak. Figures and statistics are shocking. The reality they represent on the ground is even more so.
I will only refer to SDG 1 regarding poverty.
This year’s report clearly states that 380 million women and girls live in extreme poverty and the prospects are that this figure will continue to grow definitely until 2030.
With this in mind, we understand why there is the urgent need for women specific actions at international level that target these scenarios. From the Beijing Action, to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to the UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, (which goes back to more than 20 years) all these legal instruments provide tools for raising women’s conditions and access to equal possibilities at par with their male counterparts.
It is encouraging to note that there is a concerted effort amongst regional and international organisations and institutions such as the EU, OSCE, Council of Europe and NATO to adhere as much as possible to the Women in Peace and Security Agenda and shape policies within the indicated parameters.
I applaud and thank Kosovo for taking the initiative to organise this important Forum and bringing together such a large number of different stakeholders.
Sadly, Kosovo knows too well the devastating consequences brought about by conflict, which disproportionately affect women and girls. I am sure that all of us present here look forward to learn more about your sad experiences in this regard.
Malta firmly believes that a whole-of-society approach is needed in order to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
While Malta itself is not exposed to armed conflict, in the past 10 to 20 years it has become an increasingly multicultural country, in which a growing number of women coming from conflict and conflict-affected areas reside.
To this effect, on the domestic level, Malta adopted a national action plan for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. This action plan intended to cover the period 2020-2024 is based on four pillars: promotion, prevention, participation and partnerships.
The plan seeks to ensure that the particular needs of women who have experienced conflict are taken into account in the services provided in order to support their recovery from trauma: physical trauma and psychological trauma.
As a state, we believe in consistently promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, as they are at the core of our European values. In addition, gender mainstreaming is intrinsic to government policy.
The success of gender mainstreaming is only possible through strong political commitment, adequate institutional structures and procedures, as well as reinforced implementation across the policy areas.
We also believe that investing in the economic and political empowerment of women yields substantial results.
Over the past years, the world has been plagued by manifold challenges to our security, ranging from security of our borders to human security.
Our efforts and livelihoods have been threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been directly and indirectly affected by conflicts in the region and beyond, while climate change and natural disasters continue to play havoc and cause concern.
The key role that women can play in contributing to addressing these challenges, is more important than ever.
Represented here today are women of Ukraine. They have been facing Russian aggression and violence for months.
To them I say… your fortitude and courage are admirable, and we, the International Community, are duty bound to continue assisting you in your fight in assuring your welfare and that of your families.
In this context, we also cannot fail to mention the resilience of the women in Iran, who rose against authoritarianism with one voice in the face of brutal violence and repression. Their collective action in the light of the difficult scenario they are living in, is nothing but inspiring.
It is the women in these countries that are demanding the change. We owe it to them!
A change that grants them respect, safety and authority to develop their potential. A change that ultimately enhances the social, political and economic wealth in their countries. Their strength and determination encourage us to be bold and support such initiatives in our own countries where they are still lacking.
During the last years we have seen countless examples of women taking leading roles in our societies. We saw it in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being leaders, policing, working as health workers, and teachers who provided children with some semblance of normality.
Similarly, women need to be directly involved in addressing the multiple and intersecting security threats that we are currently facing, including in situations of conflict.
The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is one of the priorities for Malta’s two-year term on the UN Security Council starting from January 2023.
Malta aims to continue calling for work to advance this agenda to ensure the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in peace processes by bringing down social, cultural and political barriers and prejudices.
Their equal participation in decision-making processes is also a fundamental matter of rights apart from being in the best interests of society at large.
We will continue emphasizing the need to prevent acts of violence, including gender-based, domestic and sexual violence, against women and girls both in situations of armed conflict and in places where peace still prevails.
We firmly believe that the Women, Peace and Security agenda should be mainstreamed across the board to see that change trickles down to the grassroots.
We need to ensure that we walk the talk. We must see that progress does not remain a matter that is only discussed in fora. Tangible change must be seen on the ground.
This is why opportunities to meet with different stakeholders, as we are doing today are very useful. We have to work together to find solutions for the benefit of countless women and girls around the world.
Finally, I would like you all to keep in mind that this is not only an agenda that women and girls benefit from or should be interested in. It is far more than that.
It is the way forward. Women, men, boys, and girls in all their diversity, have all to gain from the increased participation of women at all decision-making levels.
Increased inclusivity increases activism and leads to more creative as well as sustainable solutions. We need to overcome the global challenges we are facing today. This one in particular!
It is up to us, all the stakeholders in this room and beyond, to make it happen.