Gender equality remains a ‘contested political issue’ facing UN

Women still ‘not at the table’ globally, says Ireland’s ambassador to the UN

Gender equality remains one of the most “contested political issues” facing the United Nations, and women are still “not at the table” globally, Ireland’s ambassador to the UN has said.

Gender equality remains one of the most “contested political issues” facing the United Nations, and women are still “not at the table” globally, Ireland’s ambassador to the UN has said.

 

Gender equality remains one of the most “contested political issues” facing the United Nations, and women are still “not at the table” globally, Ireland’s ambassador to the UN has said.

Geraldine Byrne Nason was speaking about the UN security council resolution on women, peace and security, adopted in 2000, at The National Women’s Council (NWC) all-island women’s forum on Thursday.

The resolution recognised the particular impact of conflict on women and girls, as well as their role in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and governance.

“The stark reality is that gender equality remains one of the most contested political issues facing the UN. I believe it’s in part because it raises the really uncomfortable questions about powers and who has the right to wield it,” she said.

“Empowering women and having women at the table fundamentally disrupts the status quo,” Ms Byrne Nason added.

“Regrettably ... women are simply not at the talks table. That is the case in Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya. ”

Seat

Ireland took up its seat on the Security Council as an elected member in January this year and is now coming to the end of its 10th month on the Council.

The council raises the issue of women, peace and security in “absolutely every statement that we make at the Council on any issue,” Ms Byrne Nason said.

Giving the example of Ethiopia, in the context of the crisis in Tigray, Ms Byrne Nason said the Council had “consistently focused attention on the devastating sexual and gender-based violence occurring.”

“In our statement, after the fall of Kabul, we chose at the Security Council table to focus squarely on the situation of Afghan women and girls,” she said.

This week, Ms Byrne Nason met in Mali with the women members of the armed groups who were “in negotiations for building a more sustainable or trying to get towards a sustainable peace in Mali.”

Ms Byrne Nason said she raised the issue afterwards in her own deliberations with the prime minister and president of Mali, “ensuring that however difficult the situation is on the ground, that we would ensure that women’s voices are at the table.”

Hope

The ambassador hoped the Security Council could “look back and feel in an honest way that we have improved the situation for women on the ground, for women and their communities on the frontlines of conflict and violence.”

“And at the end of the day, for me, that’s actually what really counts,” she said.

The NWCI forum consisted of members from both the South and Northern Ireland and aimed to address “the underrepresentation of women and further develop women’s role in peacebuilding and civic society.”

Funded through the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, the forum meets on a monthly basis to address issues on an all-island basis that affect women.