I am honored to address the Security Council today. Allow me to start by commending the South African Presidency of the Security Council for convening this debate. I also thank UN Secretary-General António Guterres and rest of the briefers for their remarks and valuable input to this debate.
Latvia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
Empowerment of women and their inclusive engagement, as well as gender equality, are not a whim of our century but building blocks of a more peaceful, secure and sustainable world. It comes with a positive spillover effect that benefits our children, families and entire communities, and steers us closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security resolutions are important for the integration of the gender perspective in a broader security context, thereby taking an important step towards conflict prevention, resolution and sustainable peace. Hence, we need to put the utmost effort into lessening the disparity between women affected by conflict and the role assigned to women in conflict prevention and resolution. It is often overlooked that women`s participation in conflict prevention and resolution has a meaningful effect on the outcome of the process.
In the meantime, special attention must be paid to the needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations, including physical security and access to sufficient health care. Same applies to eradicating all forms of sexual violence and abuse in conflict. This must remain high on our agendas.
As we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325, Latvia strongly supports the Agenda, recognizing that the close link between global security and equal participation of women should not be underestimated. We applaud the UN Secretary-General for his strong commitment to put women’s meaningful participation high on the UN agenda.
Furthermore, we put gender equality high on our agenda as well, hence, we are in the process of finalizing National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. As a Member State of the EU, we contribute to the implementation of the Agenda in the EU’s internal and external policies. Many of the guidelines have already been integrated into our national system. Other examples include recent Parliament elections where we acknowledged the highest number of women ever elected to the Parliament of Latvia – 31%. This is also slightly above the EU average. 16% of soldiers in Latvia’s National Armed Forces and 30% in the State Police force are women. We are proud that Latvia has the highest percentage of women researchers in Europe – 52%.
On a greater scale, Latvia is pleased that under its recent presidency of the Arms Trade Treaty a robust Plan of Action on gender and gender based violence was adopted. It can be considered to be the first intergovernmental agreement that aims at improving meaningful participation of women in disarmament fora, as well as outlines practical steps that states parties will take to implement provisions of the ATT related to risk assessment based on gender based violence criteria. We call on all states parties of the ATT to strongly adhere to this Plan of Action.
At the same time, we recognize that gender equality is not just about number of women in positions of power. It is crucial that gender equality and participation goes beyond numbers and ensures that voices of women and girls are heard and integrated in the decision-making process. This is what we must strive for so our tomorrow is better than our today. Thank you.