United Nations—Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has called for the appointment of more women as the Secretary General’s Special Envoys and Special Representatives. Speaking in the Security Council open debate on Women and Peace and Security, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations said that women’s special skills in mediation makes them particularly suited for such positions. “Yet they head very few such missions. This needs to change”, she urged. Expressing Pakistan’s full support to the objectives of the UN’s women, peace and security agenda, Ambassador Lodhi told the 15-member Council that her country has played an important role in advancing these goals as a major troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions. Pakistani women peacekeepers, she said, have served as exemplary police officers, doctors and nurses in missions in Asia, Africa and the Balkans. She expressed Pakistan’s readiness to share its experience by conducting training programmes for women security officers to enhance their capacity to respond to crisis situations. . Gender-sensitization, Ambassador Lodhi said, was a mandatory part of the training of Pakistani peacekeepers. She also told the Security Council that as host to the largest protracted refugee population in the world, Pakistan has allowed unhindered access to Afghan refugees, including women and girls, to education and health care, and enabled them to secure employment. “It is gratifying to note that the core-skills acquired by our Afghan sisters in Pakistan, are being used for the welfare of their homeland, Afghanistan”, she added.
Speaking about the leadership role of women, Ambassador Lodhi said that as agents of peace, women also have a vital role to play in achieving sustainable development as peace and development were inextricably linked. “Empowerment of women is therefore also essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including on poverty eradication, health, education and inclusive development”, she added.
She said, women across the world, from Columbia to Uganda to Burundi to Tunisia, have emerged as leaders and consensus builders, inspiring hopes of peace and prosperity amidst conflict and violence.
Referring to the crimes committed against women by Daesh and Boko Haram as well as states that use sexual abuse as a weapon of war, Ambassador Lodhi said that millions of women and girls remain most vulnerable in situations of armed conflict.
“In our region we have witnessed thousands of women falling victim to brutal oppression. Countless others have suffered rape and sexual abuse, the worst and the most traumatic form of violence”, she said.
She also called for addressing the root-causes of conflicts and cross-cutting issues of governance in order to promote and safeguard the interests of women in conflict situations. “This would require synergy of efforts towards conflict prevention and resolution”, she concluded.—INP