November 28, 2018
Her Excellency Eliza Jean Reid; First Lady of Iceland;
WPL President and Members of the WPL Board;
Distinguished Women Leaders and Guests from other parts of the World;
Panelists, Moderators, and Facilitators:
It is a special honor at this moment to add my voice to the already well-articulated presentation of First Lady Reid on the topic relative to the involvement of women in peace and security and the urgent need for the reinforcement of security at all levels in our global village. It is equally more profound for all of us, as this discussion is taking place in the most peaceful country in the world.
I am of the opinion that this environment is as a result of a conscious effort of leaders at all levels of governance to ensure that there is equity, equality and inclusion of all–a sine qua non – to true sustained peace and security. I salute the people of Iceland on showing by example that Peace and Security is POSSIBLE.
As each of us, gathered here, looks at options for improved peace and security for women the world over, I do so in memory of the roles played by many women leaders to ensure the furtherance of a more peaceful world; we salute them, as today we have the privilege to stand on their shoulders.
I am proud, that from my neck of the woods, are strong women Leaders, a few of whom are: Her Excellency Angie Brooks-Randolph, who blazed the trail to become the first ever African woman to rise to become President of the United Nations General Assembly, specifically the 24th Session, as far back as nearly half a century ago in 1970.
And, of course, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female President of Liberia, and Africa at large, whose twelve years of leadership, secured twelve years of peace in a nation emerging from deep crisis.
It is my prayer and hope, that one day in the future I would have left positive footprints which would qualify one, as one of the great women, in my time.
As one of the younger women leaders from a post conflict nation, I can confidently cite a litany of experiences and lessons learnt from the rugged and often daunting marches through risky circumstances in tortuous efforts to put end to intimidation, harassment, sexual and gender based violence against women, civil hostilities and engender public confidence, build trust, and foster cooperation.
I am pleased to inform this gathering that it is recorded in history that, “With the launching of its Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2009, Liberia became the first post-conflict country with a National Action Plan (NAP) to implement Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.”
Howbeit, I must admit that our nation falls in the category of those in a slow pace of the fulfillment of obligations undertaken by nations to implement national action plans pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which was passed on October 31, 2000. That is why this gathering of Women World Leaders is not only historic; but important to this process as we put in place plans to recommit our energies from bare awareness to determined actions.
Please allow me to challenge this gathering, to not only talk about this critical issue, but encourage us to ferret strategies that lay out clear action plans, which will bring forth the full effect of a mass action by all women leaders in a concerted effort to address the gaps in global peace and security as envisaged by the Resolution. By so doing we will raise our voices loudly and work in earnest to change the trajectory towards a world of peaceful coexistence.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
Though Resolution 1325 address abuses in conflict environments, we must remain mindful that the battle against inequality, inclusion, harassment, intimidation, marginalization, abuse, sexual and gender-based violence, etc, is still raging in many parts of the world. It is especially so in developing nations, thereby making it imperative for us to keep our quest to unleash the potential, provide equality, eliminate abuse and uplift the status of women – as the FRONT and CENTER Pillar of our global collective efforts to ensure peace and security in our one WORLD.
We cannot say enough times that Women constitute half the world’s population. This fact, standing alone, is enough to make it imperative to be given the opportunities to effectively complement the male population in forging policies, implementing plans and working together to better the world. Leaving women at a minimal level of participation in national, regional, continental, and global matters equals robbing those layers of governance the full potential that comes to bear to confront and resolve common problems; thereby making this a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE.
As we gear up for the challenges, let us keep in mind that the onus is upon each of us to give impetus to the courage of women to be a part of the conversations on the stage of decision making. We need to provide an environment which encourages women to not only participate but to contest for elected positions, support one another especially those who succeed, mentor one another, provide opportunities which help them contribute positively in their sphere, and inspire the next generation of female leaders so that the cause for equality, peace and security can become a reality that is just around the corner.
It is with this view that I am pleased to propose for your consideration, the establishment of a Global Women Leaders Peace and Security Network Initiative, a working group established to ensure that our aspirations are translated into concrete workable action steps which are evaluated periodically and adjusted to achieve our goals for a more inclusive and equitable world; in this generation. For we can no longer just advocate for the change we are entitled to; we must PUSH till we change the societal norms and perceptions which continue to hold us back.
In pursuing the targets set by this Initiative, specific focus should be given to catapulting women into positions that enable them to more potently impact policy decisions that eliminate violence against women, promote peace, security and empowerment of women the world over. For the more Women in positions of governance, the better our one World.
To close, let me acknowledge that our convergence to herald our transition from AWARENESS to ACTION is a right move at the right time. Let us however resist the temptation to minimize the huge responsibility it calls for. Commitment and resoluteness must remain our watch words. Faith and optimism must be the fuel that propels us even in the face of daunting obstacles we will meet. For I hope you will agree with me that those who reach top levels are intimidated and harassed, in a bid to cause them to quit before fulfilling their mandates.
Allow me to again register my profound gratitude to Her Excellency the First Lady of Iceland (such an avid advocate), WPL, Council of World Women Leaders, the Parliament and Government of Iceland, and all sponsors and organizers of this great forum for an undertaking which, I have no doubt, goes to the betterment of women and, by extension, our common world.
Thank you for the opportunity to be heard.
May God bless us all!