On 28 October 2014, the Security Council held an Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, with the theme of “Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors”. Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Edmund Mulet, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Mr. Chaloka Beyani and a representative of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Suaad Allami delivered statements at the debate’s outset.
The Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, opened the debate and noted that the Council is facing extraordinary challenges including the rise of violent extremism and the worst levels of displacement since the end of the Second World War. “We will not overcome these challenges without putting gender equality at the front and centre of our efforts to maintain peace and security,” she said.
Representatives from over 65 Member States and regional groups took the floor. Speakers noted with concern the ongoing, protracted conflicts that are contributing towards the unprecedented levels of displacement, and the violent extremism directly targeting women and girls.
Taking the floor, H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, noted the timeliness of the Security Council debate. “War and conflict affect more lives today, all over the world but particularly in Afghanistan and the wider region, than at any time in recent history,” he said. “Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes, and millions of women and children have been left vulnerable, bearing the brunt of the burden of these tragic circumstances.”
Ambassador Tanin stressed that the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, have suffered immensely as a result of almost 40 years of war and conflict. “Violence in my country shattered their lives, interrupted their educations, threatened their livelihoods, destroyed their communities, and pushed them from their homes to other countries or to unfamiliar cities and slums,” he said. Despite these challenges, the Ambassador noted that the new President and National Unity Government are committed to women’s full and equal participation at all levels of governance and decision-making.
Ambassador Tanin concluded his statement by emphasizing that as Afghanistan prepares for the challenging transition from international security forces to Afghan forces and institutions at the end of this year, the Government of Afghanistan believes that women’s participation is critical to preserving and enhancing the gains of the last 12 years and to the future stability, democracy, prosperity and peace of the country. “Afghan women,” he said, “have suffered immensely as a result of Taliban rule, extremism and decades of war. It is only when they are free from violence, want and fear that we will be able to secure democracy, stability and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”