29 October 2020 – Thank you also Dina, for the privilege of being in this meeting with UN Women this is a great privilege for all of us, and of course all the participants in this very important and very timely meeting. Remarking what Laura has been telling us today the anniversary of that landmark resolution, and I would like to reaffirm my view that women’s political participation and gender inclusion, is of course, a vital issue in this and any peace process. Indeed, in some more obvious way how can a sustainable peace be built, if half the population is neither involved nor their views properly considered.
Women’s representation in the formal negotiations, again as Laura has been reminding us, has been unacceptably low, as we all know. The parties must try to do better, we must too, and we must work hard to get women included in their delegations. So this is both a point of credibility and diversity of their own representation of the Yemeni people, but also it will make for better agreements and more useful perspectives and there are many, and I hesitate to say it to this meeting, that is clear there are many prominent Yemeni women in the ranks of the parties and in civil society who are quite ready to take on this role of representation. And there are many, also, activists and specialists on the key topics that we must consider.
Of course I will, once again, when formal talks proceed, request, urge the parties to include women in their delegations. We will insist on reserved seats that are only for women. I also by the way would like to see youth and young women and men around the table, and we will request their representation too. And your advocacy will help us and everybody in this room will help not us, but the representation of women. That will be crucial.
More women around the table, however, does not mean it falls to those women and those women alone to think about gender perspectives. It is all our responsibility. I do not see women issues, I see issues that women raise as pressing and urgent and relevant to all Yemenis and to all of us outside Yemen be it access to humanitarian aid, health services, calls for cease fire, freedom of movement and passage, economic reform, better resource management, and decentralization and accountable government. These immediate and longer-term issues are priorities for everyone in Yemen, and they are priorities to the international community who observe the prospects of Yemen. Women bring these concerns of Yemeni society into negotiations, and we all know, we all know from research, that when women participate, peace agreements tend to work better, and longer, and more sustainably. Again Laura has already referred to the courage and bravery and prowess of Yemeni women working on the front lines, working as advocates, and often in great danger, as the recent panel of experts report clearly demonstrated. My briefings to the security council, have highlighted some of these efforts, but there is no doubt I could do more and could do better. Women operated different levels and layers of Yemeni society as in any society, serving to bridge and facilitate the connections necessary between and within and beyond Yemeni society to build.
I would like to refer if I may, briefly, to the issue of women detainees and prisoners which has become a renewed topic of interest and a very important one. Keeping with international humanitarian law, we, my office has supported and called for the immediate and unconditional release of civilian detainees be they men, women, or children.
Laura and Dina and friends, we need to see all this happen, we see it, I see it, my office sees it, everyone in this zoom meeting sees it. I would like to work more closely more actively and continue in this vital moment of Yemen’s history. When we see the prospect of an end to the fighting, we see the possibility of that happen, and that will lead to the opportunities of peace, for inclusion, for equality, and for prosperity for all Yemenis.
Thank you very much indeed.