Men must stop excluding women from peace talks around the world, UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, warning that in conflicts such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the situation is actually “deteriorating”.
The UN secretary-general said the lack of female representation in such negotiations from Ukraine to Afghanistan, Myanmar and Mali shows “how enduring power inequality and patriarchy are failing us”.
It results in “men in power and women excluded, their rights and freedoms deliberately attacked,” he told a special meeting of the Security Council.
But “women’s right to equal participation at all levels is essential to building and maintaining peace,” Guterres said.
He noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of women and children to flee the country, “putting them at high risk of human trafficking and exploitation of all kinds.”
“Women who chose not to evacuate are at the forefront of health care and social support,” Guterres says.
Their perspectives are therefore ‘critical to understanding conflict dynamics’ and make their participation ‘essential for conflict resolution’.
In many areas, men in power have actively worked to exclude women, Guterres said, citing Afghanistan, for example, where “nearly 20 million Afghan women and girls are being silenced and wiped out of sight”.
In Myanmar, “women cannot express themselves openly and have no path to political participation,” the UN chief added.
Successive military coups have also left women “poorer and more marginalized” in Mali, where “extremists pose an even greater threat,” Guterres said.
He was unequivocal about the impact of what he termed “the recent shift from inclusive politics,” saying it “demonstrates once again that misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing.”
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