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Sec. of State Clinton Commits $44M Toward New Initiatives To Empower Women

Marking the 10th anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 – the first “to recognize the importance of women’s ‘full involvement’ in efforts to maintain and promote peace and security” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday together with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and diplomats called for increased action to end sexual violence in war and increase women’s involvement in peace-building efforts, the Associated Press/Forbes reports (10/26).

Clinton announced at the U.N. Security Council meeting that the U.S. will commit $44 million towards new initiatives aimed at empowering women, Newsday reports (Dowdy, 10/26). America.gov provides details of the U.S. commitment: “$17 million … will support civil society groups in Afghanistan that focus on women” and “$14 million … will be given to nongovernmental organizations that are trying to increase the availability of clean water in conflict zones” where women searching for water are at increased risk of being attacked. Clinton also “said $11 million ‘will help expand literacy, job training and maternal health services for refugee women and girls,’ and $1.7 million will help fund U.N. activities, including those of Margot Wallstrom, the special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict,” America.gov writes (Kaufman, 10/26).

Additionally, Clinton said the U.S. plans “to develop our own National Action Plan to accelerate the implementation of Resolution 1325 across our government and with our partners in civil society,” according to a State Department transcript. “We will measure whether women are effectively represented in the full range of peace-building and reconstruction efforts; whether they are protected against sexual violence; and whether they are the focus of conflict prevention, relief and reconciliation efforts. Measuring our progress will help ourselves be held accountable and identify those areas where we need to do more,” Clinton said (10/26).

“Adopted on 31 October 2000, resolution 1325 marked the culmination of years of concerted appeals and efforts, especially by civil society and women’s organizations, to draw attention to and seek action to reverse the egregious and inhumane treatment of women and girls, the denial of their human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict,” U.N. News Centre writes. During the Security Council meeting Tuesday, leaders expressed concerns “that women’s participation at all stages of peace processes and in the implementation of peace accords remains too low, despite their vital role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in rebuilding their societies,” the news service writes.

“Presenting the Secretary-General’s report [.pdf] to the Council, Michelle Bachelet, executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said that there are a number of ‘sobering’ messages in the report that call for concerted and urgent action,” U.N. News Centre continues. “Although activities to implement resolution 1325 have been carried out with increasing intensity over the years, these activities have lacked a clear direction or time-bound goals and targets that could accelerate implementation and ensure accountability,” Bachelet said. “While these discrete activities have indeed contributed to improvements in efforts to address the needs of women and girls in the context of armed conflict, evidence of their cumulative impact is inadequate,” she added (10/26).

“Resolution 1325 will never be implemented successfully until we end sexual violence in conflict,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message to the Council meeting. “We must hold those responsible to account, whether the crimes are committed by state or non-state parties,” Ban said, according to the news service (10/26).

“There is no starker reminder of the work still ahead of us than the horrific mass rapes in Democratic Republic of Congo last summer,” Clinton said during the meeting, according to Agence France-Presse. “Those rapes and our failure as an international community to bring that conflict to an end and to protect women and children in the process stands as a tragic rebuke to our efforts thus far,” Clinton added, before calling on the international community to take stronger action against those committing such crimes (10/26).

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