Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

231025 - UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security


25 October 2023

Statement by H.E. Ms Rebecca Bryant, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations

Australia thanks Brazil for convening this Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security and the briefers for their interventions. The debate is a needed reminder of why we established the WPS agenda.

In 2023 – as we witness and respond to wars, violent conflicts, political instability, economic insecurity, and climate-induced crises – we again encounter the question: “Why are women still excluded from peace processes and decision-making?”

We know the theory that underpins the WPS agenda. There is an extensive body of evidence on why women matter to making, keeping and building peace.

In his annual report, the Secretary General has again reminded us of the devastating consequences of disregarding the WPS agenda; which we are witnessing in Israel and Gaza.

Globally, there has been no substantial increase in the percentage of women in peace negotiations; and violence against women human rights defenders continues to rise. With regression on gender equality and the human rights of women and girls, there is erosion of democracy and a surge in instability.

Australia, working in partnership, is resisting these threats to our international rules-based system, including by the conflicts that are destabilising our world today.

Central to our efforts, and to our National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, is strengthening women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention and peace processes.

One way we do this is through regional women peace mediator networks. We proudly support the Southeast Asia Women Peace Mediators and the Pacific Women Peace Mediators Network.

Both networks are putting an end to women being sidelined from dialogues, negotiations and resolutions to conflicts in their regions. They are putting the theory into practice.

Australia is also prioritising the participation and treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force and the security sector globally. Addressing systemic barriers is not easy, but it is a strategic imperative.

For Australia, it has required bold leadership to drive cultural and behavioural change over a decade, and this work continues. 

Our own experience underpins our strong support for the Elsie Initiative Fund – which is driving the deployment of women to UN peace operations.

The Secretary General has called on us to elevate the voices of diverse women and girls, prevent gender-based violence, innovate in our programming, resource actions, and support women human rights defenders.

Individually and collectively heeding this call, we can deliver on our shared commitment to all four pillars of the WPS agenda and end the conflicts that cost too many lives.

We should embrace, not forgo, the transformative potential of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.