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Gender equality, youth aspirations keys to sustainable peace, Security Council hears

Addressing ambassadors at the Council’s open debate on the role of women and youth, UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo highlighted the significant challenges and impacts faced by women.

“Women bear the brunt of the global rollback of human rights,” she stated.

She referenced her recent visit to Afghanistan, where women are systematically denied basic rights, including education and employment opportunities.

“Women I met in Kabul told me of their aspirations and dreams: the same education afforded to men, equal employment opportunities and freedom to choose their futures.  They look to the global community to support them in realizing their rights – so that they can contribute to their country’s future,” she said.

Dismantle structural inequalities

Ms. DiCarlo pointed out that Afghanistan is not unique in that regard and that commitments on gender equality “are being ignored, if not reversed, in many regions”.

She underscored the importance of the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace, which calls for dismantling patriarchal power structures and ensuring women’s equal access.

“Doing away with structural gender inequalities is a matter of equity and right,” she asserted.

“But it is also a powerful means to improve the chances of success of peace and political processes,” she added, emphasizing that UN special political missions have strived to promote women’s rights and meaningful participation in peace processes.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefing the Security Council.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Youth inclusion

Youth inclusion was another critical focus of the Under-Secretary-General’s remarks.

She highlighted the need for young people to shape their futures and participate safely in peace processes and electoral activities.

They [young people] are not ‘adults in the making’,” she said, “they are full human beings with hopes, aspirations, ideas and energy to contribute right now.”

She stressed that engaging youth in peace processes is a missed opportunity that governments should seize to rebuild trust in institutions and increase intergenerational solidarity.

Supporting youth participation

To support youth participation, the UN is allocating resources from the Peacebuilding Fund to back National Action Plans for Youth, Peace and Security.

Regional efforts, such as the African Union’s framework and the Arab Regional Youth, Peace and Security strategy, are also instrumental in catalyzing national actions, she said.

Environmental peacebuilding, where young women often play leading roles, was another area highlighted, as Ms. DiCarlo called for recognizing and advancing the contributions of young environmental defenders, community leaders, and peacebuilders.

In conclusion, Ms. DiCarlo emphasized that transformative changes rely on national action involving all segments of society, supported by international efforts. The Security Council, she urged, can reinforce that woman, along with men, are responsible for building peace and prosperity in their societies.

“Gender equality and realizing the aspirations of young people are essential for sustainable peace and security around the world,” she concluded.

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