Statement at addressing violence targeting women in peace and security


Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional
Integration of the Republic of Ghana.
January 18, 2022, UN Security Council Chamber
New York City





Madam President,

I have the greatest pleasure to convey Ghana’s appreciation to Norway for convening this all-important meeting. We are equally grateful to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, as well as to Ms. Kaavya Asoka and Ms. Zarqa Yaftali for the insightful briefings. The briefings have laid bare the contemporary threats faced by women peacebuilders; the factors that impede their full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes; and the means by which the Security Council can rightly address violence targeted at them.

It is heartening to observe the attention and ownership this open debate has generated. This is truly indicative of our collective drive to ensure that women take their rightful place in national, regional and global peacebuilding efforts, in an atmosphere that is devoid of fear and panic. As the first open debate for the year 2022, it is my sincere hope that our debate will create the much-needed momentum for the rest of the year and beyond, when it comes to protecting women in peace and security. The Council can always count on Ghana’s unwavering support in this laudable endeavour.

Let me also commend the Secretary-General for his comprehensive 2021 Annual Report on Women, Peace and Security. The report highlights certain alarming realities endured by women in peace processes, which require the most urgent attention of the Security Council. Ghana notes with great concern the atrocities being committed against women who lend their time, energy and expertise to peace processes, with the objective of safeguarding international peace and security, and making our world a better place.

It is, therefore, disheartening to observe the continued and progressive increase in intimidation, threats and reprisals against these women who are drivers of the positive change we all desire. In several instances, women who brief the Council, or engage with UN organs and institutions, are threatened and harassed in the hope of undermining their indispensable work, silencing their voices and rendering them inactive and unresponsive to the challenges around them. In many cases, threats targeted at women peacebuilders are translated into unspeakable violence, costing many of them their lives.

The Secretary-General’s 2021 annual report indicates that in 2020, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified 35 cases of killings of women involved in peace and security, including human rights activists, journalists and trade unionists in seven conflict-affected countries. Women academics, supreme court judges, youth advocates and civil society activists have been victims of severe retaliatory violence. These facts point to the pressing need for the UN and Member States to create a safe environment to enable women carry out their work independently, and without undue interference in accordance with the tenets of Security Council Resolutions 1325, 2467 and 2493.

Madam President,

Permit me to share with the Council a number of initiatives being implemented by Ghana under the WPS Agenda and the protection of women in peace processes:

Let me begin by indicating that Ghana’s formal structures aimed at augmenting the diverse roles of women in peace and security is derived, among others, from Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is the government agency responsible for coordinating the implementation of Resolution 1325 and other Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. In 2012, the Ministry of Gender developed Ghana’s first National Action Plan on Resolution 1325, for the period 2012-2014.

Several activities were carried out under the Action Plan, including sensitization programmes and workshops for security agencies, traditional authorities and Civil Society Organizations, among other institutions, which increased, to a large extent, awareness of the crucial role of women in peace and security across Ghana.

Upon the expiration of the first National Action Plan on Resolution 1325 and based on the gaps identified in its implementation, the second edition of the Action Plan was launched in March, 2020 and is expected to be operational until 2025.

Efforts by diverse Stakeholders to support the implementation of the second Action Plan include training gender activists in peace and security issues, training women as mediators and sensitizing women at the grassroots level on their roles in ensuring peaceful societies. The Ghana Armed Forces, as well as other security agencies are also currently reviewing their regulations with the objective of rolling out policies that are women-friendly and that ensure that women who participate in peace and security, including peacekeeping, are adequately protected.

The Ministry of Gender is being supported by other stakeholders such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), among others, to enable the operationalisation of the WPS Agenda in Ghana.

Ghana is the ninth largest contributor of personnel to UN missions, and as of April 2020, Ghanaian women constituted 14% of military and 25.6% of police personnel deployed to UN and AU missions. The increasing representation of Ghanaian women in peacekeeping operations has increased Ghana’s protective abilities through national legislation.

Ghana believes that the UN will be able to make significant gains in the protection of women peacebuilders if Member States incorporate the global WPS Agenda and relevant Council Resolutions into national action plans and programmes, and implement them.

Madam President,

Ghana also wishes to make the following four (4) points on how UN Member States can ensure the protection of women in peace processes and how the Security Council can prevent and respond to intimidation, violence, and attacks against them:

First of all, the Council, should urge the Secretary-General, to ensure the allocation of targeted, practical and rapid resources to facilitate responses to threats against women peacebuilders or avert potential dangers they may face. In this regard, the Council should ensure that peace operations are adequately resourced to address the challenges encountered by UN entities and Member States in monitoring, reporting and providing support to women peacebuilders..

Secondly, the Council should impress upon the good offices of the Secretary-General to build the capacity of UN staff in conflict zones, with the objective of increasing their understanding of the work of women in peace processes. This will ultimately empower UN workers in conflict environments to furnish victims or potential victims of reprisals with the needed protection and support.

Also, UN Sanctions Committees should be utilized as tools to bring to justice, those guilty of intimidation, threats and reprisals against women in peacebuilding and to serve as a possible deterrents to potential aggressors. The active participation of women on the Panel of Experts is therefore, highly encouraged.

Lastly, the Security Council, Members States and the UN at large must be unequivocal and consistent in their defense of women briefers and they must continue to condemn all attacks against them. That level of international support will send a strong message to perpetrators of violent reprisals against women briefers, making them fully aware that the world is watching and that any violence against these women will not be tolerated.

In conclusion, Madam President,

Women are usually the most adversely affected by conflict but the most marginalised in peace processes, and the most punished for their peacebuilding efforts. Women’s voices bring real gender perspectives to peace discourses, which lead to better policies and more equitable and gender-sensitive as well as sustainable peace deals. Therefore, ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peacebuilding should not be reduced to mere rhetoric within the confines of the Security Council. We owe it to women in peace and security all over the world to convert the rhetoric into zealous and concrete action.


I thank you, Madam President.