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Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on “Women and Peace and Security: The Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa”

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Angolan Presidency for organizing this important debate on the crucial role women can play in African peace processes.

Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and wishes to add the following remarks in a national capacity.

There is clear evidence that no sustainable and lasting peace is possible without women’s active involvement in peace processes. This is why Italy has always been at the forefront in supporting the Women Peace and Security agenda, welcoming and cosponsoring UNSC res. 1325 and, more recently, UNSC res. 2242.

I wish to draw your attention to the following four points:

First, the inclusion of women in prevention, to combat radicalization. In Africa more than elsewhere there is a strong need not only for peacekeeping, but also for positive engagement in mediation and peacebuilding, to support national reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction and combat the rise of violent extremism. Women can and must greatly help in these processes. For many reasons. Not only because they represent the neglected half, but because they can give an invaluable contribution to preventing the radicalization of youth and young women. An example: Women in Africa are often the first (and sometimes the only) teachers of future generations, on whom we rely for building peace and stability. They are the first medical assistants of family members. In a sense, they can be considered the backbone of society, although they often act as silent CEOs in family governance. They must become an integral part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure a viable alternative to nihilism and extremism, leading to the rise of radical movements, such as Boko Haram.

We believe that res. 2250 and 1325 can mutually reinforce each other, and that is why Italy decided to co-sponsor the CSW side event on the complementarities between WPS and YPS a few days ago, with the participation of Under-Secretary Della Vedova. We need to foster the implementation of the two agendas, and encourage synergies. But we also need to engage more in developing the new YPS agenda, which includes girls. Very young women and girls in Africa often take on crucial, burdensome roles, and their leadership should be supported and encouraged. That is also why Italy was proud to be an EU facilitator and to have cosponsored the resolution on “the girl child”, presented by SADC and adopted in UNGA70.

Second, the inclusion and mainstreaming of gender-based issues and perspectives. Gender-based issues and perspectives should be included at all negotiating tables, including when discussing strategies covering non-proliferation and disarmament, and conventional arms and Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), and more evidently in UN Peace operation mandates, including pre-deployment training, an area of established Italian expertise.

Since 2005, through the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) in Vicenza we have been training more than 8,000 units of police personnel, many of whom are deployed in PKOs in Africa. In this regard, CoESPU introduced new modules such as Gender Protection in PSOs in order to improve and update its training programs.

To this end, we are currently revising our second 2014-2016 National Action Plan on WPS, for a third edition, which encourages women’s employment in the National Armed Forces and State Police, as well as their participation in peace operations in conflict areas.

Third, women, SDGs and Agenda 2030. Women’s involvement in peace processes must be seen through the prism of Sustainable Development Goals. On a long-term basis, economically empowered women can contribute much more effectively to sustainable development, and to sustainable peace and security – which are two mutually reinforcing conditions. Working on this two-pronged objective in our partnership with African Union countries, also in the framework of the Addis Ababa Action Plan and Africa’s Agenda 2063, is thus one of our greatest priorities. We firmly believe that economically empowered women lead to a thriving future in all spheres of economic and social life. How do we achieve women’s economic empowerment? We have to bolster their access to quality education and health, and work to end all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, including harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriages.

Last, our future. Agenda 2030 and SDGs are our most precious tools for action. It is for this reason, we believe, that issues pertaining to both Africa and women are constantly referenced – albeit not always explicitly – in most of the recommendations. Africa and women have something in common: they represent our hope for a better future.

Italy is proud to have excellent relations with African Countries, and strongly wishes to further reinforce mutual cooperation. That is why some years ago we launched the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference in Rome, a yearly appointment, which we will host again on the 18th of May, with panels addressing various issues, such as economic sustainability, peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.