Last year I accompanied Federal President Steinmeier to Sudan. For me, it was a truly remarkable moment. During the visit, I met many young people full of hope and pride at the wake of a historic democratic transition. Maybe most remarkable of all: The face of the peaceful revolution in Sudan wore lipstick and veil. It is surely not too much to say that without women the revolution would not have been possible. The same is true for Belarus where it is again women who stand at the forefront of peaceful demonstrations.
If any more prove was necessary, here it was: History has proved Resolution 1325 right. Women have the right, the capabilities and the determination to take decisions for themselves and for their societies. They don’t accept being pushed to the sidelines, as they have been for centuries.
The adoption of resolution 1325 20 years ago was a true milestone. Because: It made clear without any doubt that women’s rights are human rights - and vice versa. But also because it showed that the participation of women is not only about justice and fairness. It’s also about peace and security.
The full implementation of resolution 1325 is plain and simple: a matter of political intelligence.
Yet, the implementation of the WPS agenda continues to be weak. Too often women are still excluded from peace processes. Too often their rights and interests continue to be ignored. Too often, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence remains unpunished.
As a global community, we have not lived up to our commitment.
However, to give up is not an option. Obstacles and set-backs are a call for action. So, what can we do?
First, it remains crucial that we continue to mainstream WPS in our entire foreign and security policy. To that end, Germany and the UK co-hosted a side-event at the Munich Security Conference last year. I’m very sure: It won’t be the last. We will continue our close cooperation on WPS. Therefore, I’m glad the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung London has taken up this important topic.
My second point is: multilateralism. Germany has made the WPS agenda one of our top priorities during our membership of the UN Security Council in 2019 and 2020. Together with our partners like the UK we have been pushing for gender equality to be mainstreamed in all UN activities. The adoption of resolution 2467 on ending sexual violence in conflicts in April 2019 was an important step.
Also, we have substantially stepped up our support for civil society initiatives and networks.
We have been co-initiator of the African Women Leaders Network. And in 2019 we also helped set up the German-Latin American network Unidas, which supports feminist projects by Latin American organizations.
Finally, we have to make sure we ourselves live up to our aspiration.
Yesterday, the federal government cabinet adopted Germany’s third Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2021-2024.
The Action Plan was developed in close consultation with partners and civil society. We are very pleased that both the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the British civil society alliance GAPS have contributed to the consultations.
The Action Plan covers all four pillars of the agenda, and aims to promote the WPS agenda. For the first time, we will also include indicators to measure our progress. And we will make sure WPS is mainstreamed in the work of the federal administration at large.
To give you just some examples: We are going to designate WPS focal points in our embassies. We will include mandatory training on WPS for young diplomats. And we will mainstream the gender perspective in our entire foreign policy. Our vision is to make gender equality part of our DNA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In its yearly Gender Gap Report the World Economic Forum looks at the average progress worldwide. Its last edition concluded: If we continue at the current speed, it will take around 100 more years to finally reach gender parity. A whole century!
I think that shows: This is still a man’s world.
For my part, I can tell you: I’m not willing to wait for so long. And I hope you will join me in overcoming gender inequality for a more just, fair and peaceful world – now.