Keynote Speech by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering at the Conference “Strengthening Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace: From Commitments to Results”

07.12.2020 - Speech

Let me start by thanking the government of Vietnam for organizing this important conference. Of course, I would have liked to come to Hanoi and attend this meeting in Person.

However, meeting digitally is better than no meeting at all. Because the advancement of women’s rights cannot wait. I am therefore very grateful for the initiative and invitation by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

I very much hope to have another chance to visit Vietnam soon. A return to normal life is certainly very high on everybody’s wish list these days.

Yesterday, we celebrated St. Nicholas’ Day in Germany. It is a tradition that people write down their Christmas wishes on that day.

On my list, one thing would be underlined in particular: namely that we seize this pandemic as an opportunity to build back better. If we draw the right conclusions now, we can get out of this crisis stronger than we got into it.

And one of these conclusions must be: more equitable societies are not only fairer. They are also stronger.

Last week, I had the honour to welcome Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of Liberia, to a digital Women’s Night In I organized. Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf made crystal clear how women are at the forefront of solving crises all over the world. And she also talked about her own experience with the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

And it is something we see everywhere in the world: Women are able and willing to engage.

The peaceful revolution in Sudan would not have been possible without the many courageous women that took to the streets every day. And just as we speak, the women of Belarus stand up for their democratic rights.

Everywhere in the world, women peacebuilders are protecting their communities, also from Covid-19.

Germany is determined to support them.

We have advanced the implementation of resolution 1325, both by supporting women peacebuilders and by striving for a robust framework in the UN Security Council.

Over the past two years as a Security Council member, we have made WPS a key priority of our work. We have pushed hard to include the WPS agenda in all Council products.

Because our aim is: The WPS mainstreaming approach needs to become the norm.

At the same time, we invited civil society to speak in our debates whenever possible.

During our Security Council Presidency this July, we brought together women peace activists from over 25 countries to share their experiences on the ground. It was really impressive to see their commitment and dedication.

One thing is clear: We will only advance the implementation of Resolution 1325 if we listen closely to those working on the ground. Because it is civil society that fills the WPS agenda with life.

We stand at their side. Support, funding and protection are the three keywords here.

We must make sure women mediators and women peacebuilders are included in peace processes. We have done so in our support for the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen. And we are currently supporting women’s initiatives in the Libyan peace process.

As board members of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, we are planning to further step up our support in addition to the 5,5 million euro we have already contributed in the past two years.

And: We are determined to protect women human right defenders and peacebuilders. They often risk their own safety. They are threatened. They are intimidated. And they are persecuted. We must defend those who defend others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My wish for St. Nicholas’ Day is that active engagement of women in peace processes becomes the new normal.

But this wish won’t come true by simply waiting for the reindeers to deliver the presents. We have to get active ourselves.

That is why the German Federal Office has pledged to make WPS part of its DNA:

  • We will mainstream “Women, Peace and Security” in our training programmes.
  • We will make sure that diplomats are aware of the peace-inclusivity nexus from the beginning of their careers.
  • And, we will establish WPS focal points in our embassies.

Fairer and more equitable societies: That is no wishful thinking. It is a wish that can come true, if we join our forces and make gender equality a cornerstone of our policy.


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