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No Protection Without Participation — Women’s Refugee Commission Statement Ahead of UN Security Council Meeting on Women, Peace, and Security

NEW YORK, NY — Tomorrow, the United Nations (UN) Security Council will hold its annual open debate on women, peace, and security (WPS), marking the 21st anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325, the first resolution to recognize the disproportionate impact of war on women. Among the expected speakers is UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who will highlight his annual report on women, peace, and security, as well as a civil society representative speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on WPS.

Ahead of the open debate, Stephanie Johanssen, associate director of advocacy and UN representative of the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

“As the UN Security Council meets to discuss the women, peace, and security agenda, women human rights defenders and peacebuilders continue to be threatened, killed, and tortured just for advocating for gender equality in places like Colombia and South Sudan. This year’s Secretary-General’s report on women, peace, and security, which will be presented during the debate, paints a bleak picture, as women continue to be excluded from peace negotiations and conflict resolution. The recent escalation of conflicts in Afghanistan and Myanmar shows what happens when women’s rights are instrumentalized, and military security is prioritized over human security.

“WRC welcomes the Secretary-General’s report’s focus on reversing the upward trajectory of military spending and debunking the common myth told by governments that there are no resources available to invest in gender equality or humanitarian response. With global military expenditure increasing by 2.6 percent during a devastating pandemic, totaling nearly $2 trillion in 2020, we know there is no crisis of resources, but rather a crisis of priorities. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution, and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million, half of whom are women and girls. And yet, bold action to end conflict and advance accountability for gender-based violence remains largely deadlocked by the UN Security Council’s permanent members, among them the world’s top arms sellers.

“Women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation remains critical to resolving conflict, upholding their human rights, and ensuring that gender equality is not an afterthought. When listening to tomorrow’s statements, we should remember that there can’t be protection without the participation of those most affected by war. We call on the UN Security Council to do its job and ensure the implementation of its own resolutions on women, peace, and security. Whether it’s in Kabul or Yangon, women’s lives depend on it.”