As we celebrate International Women's Day today, I deliver this statement with deep sorrow in my heart, thinking of all the women who – today – are fleeing, threatened by cold, hunger, war, violence, in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar or elsewhere.
And yet, women are actors, driving forces and indispensable peacebuilders. They must not be confined to being potential victims of conflict. In 2009, the Security Council was visionary in placing for the first time a decisive emphasis on the role of women in reconstruction in its resolution 1889. The full, equal and meaningful participation of women in emergency relief, reconstruction and peacebuilding remains fundamental to this day.
We thank the United Arab Emirates for organizing this debate and the briefers for their contributions. Many times in my professional life, I have had the opportunity to meet women entrepreneurs who are impressive bridge builders – in Mozambique, Egypt, Nepal, and in my own country. When I asked them what the main obstacle to their full participation in peacebuilding processes was, their answers were as diverse as the women I met. On many occasions, the answers were also surprisingly short and clear: "Poverty”.
Is this surprising? No. Economic empowerment is an important driver for increasing women's participation in peace and reconstruction processes. It is only through a certain economic independence that we will be able to fully realize our potential for creativity, efficiency and networking for peace.
Let me highlight three points:
First, Switzerland's National Action Plan emphasizes economic empowerment as an important factor for women's effective participation in political and peace processes. We invite all countries to develop their National Action Plan and to include a focus on economic empowerment. This empowerment must be done with full respect for human and fundamental rights, as they are universal, indivisible and interdependent.
Secondly, strengthening the socio-economic position of women is a key issue for Swiss cooperation. For example, we support women running small and medium-sized cross-border businesses in the Great Lakes region. Improving the socio-economic position of women in their communities broadens their scope for social and political engagement – including in peace promotion.
Third, we welcome the priority given by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to funding initiatives that promote the participation and empowerment of women. Switzerland has supported the PBF for many years. We are also a signatory to the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact. This Compact, which can also be joined by academic institutions and the private sector, is a good example of a modern and effective multilateralism.
Alongside the National Action Plans, the role of international cooperation and the work of the UN – what is the role of the Council and what can it actually do? A lot! To improve partnerships – the topic of this debate – the Council must promote networks. It can do this during field visits by meeting with women peacebuilders. It can also invite them to inform the Council. And it can increase its cooperation with regional organizations, international financial institutions and civil society.
Our commitment to the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda must at the same time be a commitment to the 2030 Agenda. Synergies between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council as well as with the Peacebuilding Commission must be intensified.
Switzerland will continue and strengthen its commitment to the full implementation of this agenda. As a candidate for the Security Council, my country strives to continue to be a plus for peace and a plus for development.