Administrator Samantha Power at the Generation Equality Forum

Speeches Shim

Friday, July 2, 2021


ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good afternoon. I come bearing a simple message: if you want peace in this world, trust women to deliver it. Across decades of conflict, the research points to the same conclusion: that if more women are represented in negotiating peace, that peace is more likely to hold.

The more women signatories there are to a peace agreement, the more durable the peace and the less likely a country may relapse into conflict or civil war. Peace agreements signed by women have higher quality provisions and show a higher rate of implementation in the ten years following conflict. No matter the continent—whether in El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Papua New Guinea, or Liberia—the result is the same. These virtuous effects of women’s participation also show up in the longer-term stability and prosperity of a society.

Higher levels of gender equality in a society are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. And the most rapid postconflict reductions in poverty happen in areas where women report higher levels of empowerment. This evidence is why, in 2017, the U.S. became the first country in the world to pass a comprehensive domestic law on Women, Peace, and Security, the WPS Act.

It’s why USAID, the Agency I am privileged to lead, has been intensely focused on ensuring women are represented in peace processes throughout the world, and hold positions of power in countries recovering from conflict.

In Kosovo, we’ve supported women-led and women-focused civil society organizations for decades, and empowered women party activists to develop policy initiatives, build local support, and advance their profile in local media. That support continues to bear fruit today—last year, for the first time ever, the head of parliament was a woman, who was recently elected Kosovo’s second woman President. And in recent elections, nearly 40 percent of women had won seats in parliament outright, on merit, and not by quota.

And in Guinea, we’re supporting women to serve as Peace Ambassadors to address ongoing political and social turbulence. These women have worked to identify and facilitate the timely, peaceful resolution of nearly 50 community-level conflicts in the country, while also leading educational outreach events for citizens on conflict resolution. And as a result of this program, many of these same women have been promoted to local political and administrative positions.

To cement and expand this important work, the U.S. launched a strategy last year to advance women’s meaningful participation in preventing and resolving conflict, countering violent extremism, and building post-conflict peace and stability.

To date, we’ve committed over $400 million dollars to help implement this strategy, including $95 million to protect women and girls from violence in humanitarian emergencies, and supported the participation of over 184,000 women in leadership, conflict mediation, legal, political, and peace-building processes. And we will create rapid response funding mechanisms so we can directly support local women peacebuilders and organizations to help make sure they have a seat at the table in securing peace.

Greater strategic attention, increased funding, rapid response funds—these are steps we urge all nations to take when it comes to enshrining a role for women in matters of peace and security. Because here’s another thing the data show—despite the benefits of including women in winding down conflict, they are still frequently blocked and kept out of peace processes.

Since 1992, about 70 percent of all peace processes did not include women signatories or mediators. This isn’t just shameful; it’s ignorant. It makes our world more dangerous. So as we sign on to the Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action compact—something the Biden Administration is eager to do—let’s make sure we live up to its values; and live up to its commitments. And let’s build a more peaceful world because of it. Thank you.

Last updated: November 09, 2022

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