UN Resident Coordinator’s message of support for the launch of the South Africa National Action Plan Women, Peace and Security

The UN is committed to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda within the framework of the Secretary General’s six-point plan and UN Security Council.

Thank you, Programme Director.

  • Greetings to Honourable Minister Dr. Naledi Pandor,
  • Honourable Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and
  • Honourable Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,
  • My dear sister Madam Binta Diop, the African Union Commission’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security; 
  • All our Partners, Norway, represented by Andre Mundal,  Sweden, Ireland, Canada, EU etc… and Leaders of Civil Society Organizations
  • Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen, allow me to stand on the shoulders of the preceding speakers and say All Protocols Observed

Introduction

I am very excited to be speaking at the launch of the first-generation National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for South Africa on behalf of the UN family. Congratulations to all those who have been involved in making this happen. While this piece was long overdue, South Africa has nevertheless registered a remarkable progress; including ensuring women are represented in peace processes and mediation efforts; not to mention its own CODESA negotiations - as advocated for in the National Action Plan.  We are proud  that the country has a 50-50 cabinet and women in strategic ministries including in male dominated areas such as in Defence and Military Veterans (Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula). 

There is progress, Ladies and Gentlemen but more needs to be done.

We cannot be satisfied with our laurels, until we reach our gender equality targets. We need to consolidate the gains and at the same time address the gaps that persist, more so in a post-COVID-19 era as we thrive to build back better in an inclusive and equitable manner, with women and feminist leadership; as dictated by  the Relief and recovery pillar of the SA National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

The NAP launch, ladies and gentlemen is taking place at an opportune time as we celebrate 20 years of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and 25 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The Secretary General’s reflection contained in his report on 20 years of UNSCR 1325 calls on the international community and everyone, everywhere to take radical steps to ensure sustainable peace and security.

  • The findings show that,
    • Women are central to peace efforts, and they get results. Yet, Peace agreements with gender equality provisions increased from mere 14 per cent in 1995 to only 22 per cent in 2019. 
    • On average, women were 13 per cent of negotiators, 6 per cent of mediators, and 6 per cent of signatories in major peace processes between 1992 and 2019.
  • The report also highlights that, this pandemic is forcing us to think of disruptive measures, a paradigm shift from the past by prioritizing investment in peacebuilding, education, health and other social transformative programs rather than destructive military spending.  
    • In 2019 alone, global military expenditures reached US$1.9 trillion dollars; representing one-third of  the cost of the implementation of the SDGs across all sectors globally;   Hence the AU’s resolution of silencing the guns is not just a slogan but a means to achieving the future we want.   
    • The report further indicates that the share of aid dedicated to programs or projects with the primary objective of improving gender equality and women’s rights has decreased to 4.5 per cent.

Notwithstanding the constraints, the UN System as a whole is committed to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda within the framework of the Secretary General’s six-point plan and UN Security Council resolutions.

Here in South Africa, The UN family is committed to supporting the peace infrastructure, to mainstreaming peace building and conflict transformation in all our programs, to investing in women peacebuilders in line with the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.  Built on successes scored by DIRCO, we are ready to train local women leaders in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and mediation. We plan to use  these skills in communities riddled with conflict and violence; and integrate this initiative within  our  package of support to DDM implementation strategy.

As the UN, we take the issue around the need for more robust early warning and response mechanisms to address gender-based violence  very seriously and we have already integrated the chain of activities including  support to  local women peacebuilders under the planned signature program aimed at strengthening the District Thutu Sela centers, under DDM.     

In addition, to optimize the value of our peacekeepers deployed in many conflict ridden countries, and in response to the report released last week by the Ministerial Task Team;  we are having discussions with the Department of Defence regarding  interventions and training of peacekeepers on societal values and principles and value-based leadership and code of conduct to extricate our Peacekeepers from any Sexual Exploitation and Abuse activities in their host communities.

In conclusion, I would like to urge all of us to cease this moment of the global campaign to mark 25 years of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action under the theme Generation Equality and the new WPS Global Compact under negotiation as a lever to mobilise all partners including the private sector to support and accelerate implementation of the WPS agenda.

Finally, Action Plans without dedicated Financing will not yield results.  I am therefore challenging Government – Treasury, all development partners and private sector to join hands in the implementation of the National Action Plan.  Let us work towards a gender equal generation by 2030!

Speech by
Author
Nardos Bekele-Thomas
Resident Coordinator
UN
Nardos Bekele-Thomas
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IFAD
International Fund for Agricultural Development
ILO
International Labor Organization
IOM
International Organization for Migration
OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UNODC
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization