SecurityWomen addresses the President of the UN General Assembly

Patrick Gruban
December 11, 2021

On 17th November 2021, the President of the UN General Assembly, his Excellency Mr Abdulla Shahid from the Maldives, held a Town Hall meeting with civil society within the United Nations HQ in New York. SecurityWomen was called to ask a question:

In an ever more volatile, dangerous world, how can women have a greater role in security sector institutions to enable a better security for every person in society?

"Women should be seen as equal partners in the protection of citizens and in the prevention of conflict. We particularly need more female peacekeepers, broadening the skill set within peacekeeping missions, and helping prevent more confrontation and conflict.

Security is seen as men’s domain, but we need gender equality in all spheres of life, including in security sector institutions, to bring a better security for everyone. Women’s leadership is vital to change the culture of policing and armed forces across the world where macho and aggressive masculinities have dominated for far too long and Violence Against Women and Girls is not prioritised. We need to stamp out sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination within our security institutions, and create an environment where women can thrive and be themselves."

His Excellency, Mr Abdulla Shahid, responded by saying that 17th November was a special day since it was the 3rd anniversary of the new government in the Maldives, and that they have their first female Defence Minister as head of the security forces. He emphasised the important role women play as leaders and in resolving conflict.

He stated that progress had been made in terms of the status of women, but it remains that women are under-represented in decision-making, in peacekeeping missions and at peace tables. Across the world in many countries, the same obstacles and barriers to women are articulated. Even women scientists shared the same issues, that of gender stereotyping. Women are not regarded as proper to be heads of security agencies, heads of Defence or peacekeepers, as this is seen as more the realm of men. But, women actually perform better in negotiations, peace-building, conflict resolution and peace-making.

Mr Shahid emphasised the need to do away with stereotypes and to say more often, and particularly in UN meetings, about the capabilities of women and develop increasing awareness. He mentioned UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and how it captures the importance of the participation of women, and how women should be part of sustainable security. He pledged that the UN Secretary General and he himself would do everything they could to bring this about.

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