Foreign Minister Tuomioja's opening statement at the "Gender in Peacebuilding" seminar

Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Opening Statement at the "Gender in Peacebuilding" seminar
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Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Engel Hall, 9th December 2014

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to see so many participants in this seminar, despite the very busy season just before the holidays. I welcome the cooperation between the Ministry, Finland National Committee for UN Women, 1325 Network Finland and International Alert in designing today's programme. I will give you an overview of how gender is an integral part of the Finnish Foreign and Security Policy today, and what are our current priorities.

Gender, Peace and Security in the Finnish Foreign Policy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland has been one of the early champions of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Finnish society has benefitted immensely from increasing equality between women and men. We are quick to add that we are not perfect. For example, the comparatively high level of violence against women is still quite a challenge for Finland, and for many other countries.

Integrating gender dimension in the domain of “hard security" has been another challenge for the international community. Even today, all too many countries reject the notion that gender equality has a decisive role to play in making our world more secure for everyone, men and women alike.
Finland has integrated gender in all sectors of foreign policy, including security, development, and human rights. This is also well reflected in key foreign policy documents. The national action plan on Women, Peace and Security guides our activities in the field of security policy, broadly conceived. Gender equality is one of the priority areas in the UN strategy and in the human rights strategy and action plan of the Foreign Service. Gender equality is also a cross-cutting theme in the Finnish development policy and development cooperation.

Mainstreaming gender equality within our own organisation is an important task in its own right. It supports the implementation of other policy objectives. Recently, I also challenged every man in the MFA to join the HeforShe campaign.

Women, Peace and Security, fifteen years after

In year 2000, the UN Security Council passed the landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Since then, a growing community has mobilized behind the 1325 commitments. That community shares the view of gender as a harmfully neglected dimension of international security. Since 2000, the Security Council has adopted six other resolutions along with 1325, building a strong normative framework.

Next year, we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of 1325. To mark the occasion, a high-level review on the implementation of 1325 will take place. This stocktaking will also serve to look at the gaps and emerging issues in the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The high-level review is based on the UN Secretary-General's report, which in turn will build on the Global Study Process led by UN Women. One year ago, Finland co-financed the 1325 Global Review Conference which prepared the ground for the Global Study.

Minister Elisabeth Rehn of Finland is serving on the high-level advisory group of the Global Study. She is certainly the right person to the task: a Former Minister of Defence and an ardent advocate for 1325. It was the report titled Women, War and Peace, by Ms. Rehn and Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, which in 2002 underlined the relevance of the newly established 1325 framework.

Finland is committed to contribute to a successful global review. What would define success in this case? Here are a few preliminary remarks. First, the review must produce new analysis of the implementation of Women, Peace and Security agenda on international and national level. Secondly, it should lead to speeding up the implementation, preferably with concrete and renewed commitments by member states and other stakeholders. Increased accountability and level of funding for Women, Peace and Security is necessary for better implementation. Third, the most significant gaps in the existing 1325 framework and emerging issues should be identified. Fourth, the review should lead to increased participation of women in defining and working on the peace and security agenda. At the same time, more men must take up the task of implementing the agenda as well.

We also need to address new themes such as violent extremism where women can be everything from perpetrator and participant to point-of-target and preventer. 
Finally, the gender dimension should also be fully integrated in the simultaneous reviews on the UN peace operations and on the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.  The Post 2015 development agenda and the Beijing+20 review are also highly relevant, and Finland continues to promote gender objectives in them. It goes without saying that the civil society plays a key role as an important partner for the 1325 review as well as the other reviews.

Gender and mediation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mediation is another foreign policy priority for Finland, who is co-chairing the UN Group of Friends of Mediation with Turkey. Gender is at the heart of our mediation activities. We need more women as lead mediators and mediation experts, and much more women as peace negotiators for the conflict parties. Women's rights organisations and women's groups must be included in peace processes. Gender issues, including the knowledge that women have, must be adequately addressed in peace negotiations, in peace agreements and in peacebuilding.

Finland is currently supporting, together with Norway, the Gender and Inclusive Mediation project. It consists of a series of both high-level and high-quality seminars that are directed to mediators and senior mediation experts from the UN and other organisations. UN Department for Political Affairs is our close partner in this important project, and CMI and PRIO are the implementing organisations.

Gender in military and civilian crisis management

Military and civilian crisis management is another important area of 1325. Finland has a strong track record in training and deploying women as civilian crisis management experts – women constitute almost 40 % of the Finnish civilian crisis management experts. On military side, numbers are still low due to the structure of our national military service. However, gender is included in the predeployment training for both military and civilian crisis management. We emphasize that the crisis management operations and missions themselves must operationalize gender in their activities. Finland supports stronger action by the European Union in implementing 1325 agenda in crisis management. I welcome the positive steps that NATO has taken in recent years, including appointing a Special Representative for 1325. In OSCE, Finland continues to work as a main sponsor for the adoption of OSCE-wide Action Plan on 1325.

Gender in peacebuilding and development cooperation

Moving on to the post-conflict phase, gender equality is a cornerstone of sustainable peace and stable society. Women's potential and knowledge in peacebuilding have not been fully used in many countries. This is then reflected in poor results. Civil society organisations can have a crucial role in including women in peacebuilding processes. The need to apply a gender perspective to all efforts to prevent conflict and build peace is increasingly recognized. Taking a true ‘gender perspective’ requires critical examination of the roles and experiences of men and boys. Steps should be taken to promote notions of masculinities which favour nonviolence and gender equality as this will improve lives of both women and men.

Women and girls continue to suffer from violence before, during and after conflicts. We should try to prevent and eliminate sexual violence in conflict. Fight against impunity is of crucial importance. To that end, Finland has this year supported the UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict with 2 million Euros. Finland is also currently the biggest financial contributor to the UN Women – a position which we would not be too sorry to lose to some of our bigger partners. As already said, much of our development cooperation directly promotes gender equality and gender is a marker in all development cooperation projects.

Finland has supported the development of National Action Plans for 1325 in Afghanistan, Kenya, and Nepal. I am very pleased that we have today participants from two of these partner countries, Afghanistan and Nepal. I welcome the progress that has been made in preparing the National Action Plan in Afghanistan and in implementing one in Nepal.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Integrating gender into international affairs is not easy, but it is a necessity and an obligation. Responsibility for this lies with all of us, and I challenge each of you to do your part in advancing Gender, Peace and Security. Today's seminar will give ample room for more detailed deliberation on the best ways to do it. In this way, we may effectively advance the cause of peace. With these words, let me welcome you once more to the Ministry!

Thank you!

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