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Speech by Tánaiste at launch of Ireland’s Third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

 

Launch of Ireland’s Third National Action Plan on

Women, Peace and Security

21 June 2019

 Speech by Tánaiste, Simon Coveney T.D.

 

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

 

I am delighted to be here with you today in UCC to launch Ireland's Third National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security.

 

I would like to thank Patrick, the President of UCC, and his colleagues, for hosting us here today. I know that UCC are participating in the GENOVATE initiative, and you have set yourselves the target of achieving a minimum of 40% of women on all major decision making bodies in the university. It’s an important initiative, and resonates with the issue we are discussing today about the role and influence of women.

 

Ireland is committed to putting women and girls at the heart of our work to prevent and resolve conflict. Ensuring that peace is forged on the basis of rights, equality and inclusion is an expression of Ireland’s values and our interests. We know from our own experience that inclusion is an essential part of achieving sustainable development and building long lasting peace and security.

Ireland's previous National Action Plans on Women Peace and Security have proven to have been very effective. Both plans were drafted following a public consultation process with sustained involvement from civil society. I am proud that the monitoring mechanisms, and the unique dual focus on the international and domestic agendas in these plans, have been highlighted as examples of best practice by both the United Nations and the European Union.

Domestically, we have made significant progress, including the implementation of an internal National Action Plan by our Defence Forces, and ratification earlier this year of the Istanbul Convention.

This Third Plan forms a central part of Ireland’s new international development policy, A Better World.

 

The Plan sets out our policy priorities for achieving gender equality in conflict affected and fragile states for the next five years, and acknowledges that women and girls are often the hardest hit by conflict. This third Plan will ensure that our engagement in discussions on peace and security recognises not only the rights and needs of women and girls, but also addresses the gender norms and inequalities that underpin violence and conflict.

The plan is based on the four Women, Peace and Security pillars, Prevention, Participation, Protection and Promotion. We will increase our funding to Women Peace and Security across all pillars, taking a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention and recognising the multiple and complex identities people can have in conflict settings.

 

We will amplify our voice and the voices of young people, increasing and deepening our influence on women, peace and security issues. In addition, this Plan will recognise more explicitly the links between disarmament and the Women Peace and Security Agenda.  

 

Globally, one in five refugee or displaced women experience sexual violence.  Increased support for protection, relief and recovery of women and girls in fragile and conflict related settings is therefore an important component of this Plan.

A major objective will be to continue to ensure the active, meaningful and equitable participation of women from all levels of society, in peace and security discussions. The mantra ‘Nothing about us without us’ underpins this plan.

 

Over the last 5 years, 15 of the 20 countries that experienced the largest improvement in their internal Global Peace Index scores showed improvements in the “gender inequality” indicator. This correlation demonstrates that when we listen and heed women’s voices, we all win.

 

In relation to the peace process in Northern Ireland, women won their seats at the negotiation table through their own determined efforts. And they had an impact, raising important issues such as human rights and equality, integrated education and policing. Over 20 years later, it is deeply regrettable that the Northern Ireland experience of inclusion remains the exception rather than the rule when it comes to women’s participation in peace processes globally.

The cross- community and cross generational work of women peacebuilders on the island of Ireland continues to inspire us today. Through the implementation of this Third National Action Plan, Women Peace and Security will remain an integral part of our peace building efforts in Northern Ireland. I am pleased to say that for the first time, the Plan will be launched in Belfast later this year.

 

With your indulgence, I will stray into personal observations for a moment. My role as Minister for Foreign Affairs has a particular focus on supporting the peace process. Since my appointment, I have spent a great deal of time in Northern Ireland, in particular in recent weeks. In fact, today is the only day this week that I am not in Belfast!

 

I am working closely with Northern political leaders and with the British Secretary of State to try and resolve the current challenges so that we can see the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement operating again on a sustainable basis.

 

Women are playing a leading role in these negotiations - of the five parties and two governments engaged in the process, four of these seven delegations are led by women. And it is the experience of these talks that, challenging though the issues are to resolve, having teams of negotiators that properly reflect the society they represent strengthens the process.  


And so Ireland recognises that the Women Peace and Security agenda has real domestic resonance. 

 

It applies also to women and girls living in Ireland who have suffered the impact of conflict. Ireland is a country of increasingly rich diversity, and a growing number of women from conflict or post conflict affected areas are currently living here. The plan sets out to ensure that the particular needs of women who have experienced conflict are taken into account in the services provided by government, in order to support their relief and recovery from the trauma of conflict.

At the heart of this Plan is the principle that all women have a right to meaningful participation in decisions that affect their lives. We know that connecting the local to the national requires special efforts sometimes.  In the consultation process for this plan, particular efforts were made to ensure the inclusion of women who have come to Ireland from conflict zones.

 

Many of you are here today to see the results of your engagement. I’d like to say directly to you, “Thank You. Your engagement has enriched and strengthened this plan.

I would add that our partnership approach will also include men and boys, as an essential to the realisation of the Women Peace and Security agenda, recognising that they too can suffer the harmful effects of genders norm and violence.

 

Partnership has underpinned the development of this Third National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security. And Partnership will be central to its implementation.

 

We will work more coherently across Government to deliver on this plan, and to expand our international engagement through our Embassies and through our membership of the European Union.  I would like to acknowledge the commitment of other government departments and agencies to this plan in particular the Departments of Defence, Justice and Equality, Education and Skills and Rural and Community Development, as well as the Defence Forces, the Health Service Executive and An Garda Síochána.  

 

The Women, Peace and Security agenda is a powerful tool for moving from gender inequality to gender justice, from conflict and violence to sustaining peace, from exclusionary to democratic decision-making, and to building prosperous and stable societies.

 

Driven by both conviction and experience, Ireland - as a global champion on Women Peace and Security and as an aspiring member of the UN Security Council - is determined to raise its voice and to focus on implementation of this transformative agenda from grassroots to global institutions.

 

In so doing, we are motivated by our own experience. And by the sentiment, so powerfully expressed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg that “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made….It shouldn’t be that women are the exception”.

 

It’s almost twenty years since the first landmark Women Peace and Security resolution, UN Security Council resolution 1325. The Women, Peace and Security agenda must move beyond rhetoric to reality. Ireland will continue to play a leading role. And so I am delighted to launch Ireland’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security with you this morning.

 

ENDS

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