Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security Open Debate on MAINTENANCE OF INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY: ROLE OF WOMEN AND YOUTH convened by Mozambique


Madam President,

Thank you for convening this Debate.

We also thank the briefers, Under Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs Felipe Paullier, UN Women Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous, and AU Youth Ambassador for Peace in West Africa Simone Mbode Diouf for their insightful   presentations.

The prosperity of a nation cannot be divorced from the prosperity of its Women and Youth populations. Sierra Leone reiterates its firm commitment to enhancing and advancing the role of women and youth in peace building processes at national, regional and international levels. We believe that when women and youth lead and participate in peacebuilding processes, there is sustainable peace, and socio-economic development is more meaningful.  With so many conflicts raging around the world, correlating to an increase in flagrant violations of the human rights of women, youth and children, Sierra Leone firmly believes that, upholding the human rights of every individual helps to prevent conflict and contribute to sustainable peace.

We note the expansion and improvement over the years, of the global normative frameworks for sustainable, comprehensive and inclusive peace, to explicitly promote the valuable contributions of women and youth. The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda set forth in United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) and seven subsequent WPS resolutions; the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda set forth in UNSCR 2250 (2015); and the evolving concept of sustaining peace, outlined in parallel resolutions of the Security Council (UNSCR 2282) (2016) and General Assembly (GAR 70/262) (2016), all call for inclusive planning, programme design, policy development and decision-making processes for conflict prevention, resolution and recovery.

Resolution 2250 urges Member States to increase inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels in local, national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict. The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda has also long championed a pathway for designing and implementing policies that ensure direct participation of women in political, economic and social decision making.  In recognition of the critical constituencies of women and youth on the continent and across the globe, the African Union Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, as well as the African Union’s Continental Framework for Youth, Peace, and Security, and related subsequent declarations and communiques, both similarly seek to strengthen women’s and youth’s agency in Africa, and respectively call for the  participation of women and youth in nation building and peace building through targeted programming, capacity building and mainstreaming. 

Furthermore, the African Union has since established FEMWISE which is a network of African Women of African Women in conflict prevention and mediation, which provides a platform for strategic advocacy, capacity building and networking aimed at enhancing the implementation of the commitments for women’s inclusion in peace-making in Africa.

Madam President, 

It is unfortunate that women generally continue to face significant structural barriers to active participation in peace and political processes, as well as in expanding their socio-economic power.  Recent reports by the Secretary-General note that representation of women in negotiating UN-led peace processes and in the implementation of peace agreements across several countries, generally remain at low levels. There has also been a marked increase in the number of women and girls at risk of gender-based violence in conflict situations, including about 3,522 UN verified cases of CRSV targeting women and girls for the 2023 period.

Youth also continue to face significant physical, psychological, sociocultural, financial, legal and digital threats, which are further exacerbated in conflict situations. Youth unemployment is still 3.5 times that for adults, with about 298 million young men and women not engaged in employment, education or training. Over 600 million African youth live in conflict-affected regions, with their experiences strongly determined by gender and generational power dynamics. Faced with staggering youth unemployment and widespread dissatisfaction with entrenched governance structures, young Africans are demonstrating a restlessness that is being manifested in increasing tensions with political actors. Additionally, this has led to brain drain in the continent with many youth especially in West Africa and the Sahel opting to take the dangerous journey through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean sea to seek greener pasture in Europe.

Sierra Leone recognizes the establishment of an inclusive and participatory national peace infrastructure as part of an essential condition for the realization of the right to peace.  In 2021, the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion for Sierra Leone was established to promote peace, reconciliation, and unity in Sierra Leone, build peace cultures, enhance tolerance and support peaceful resolution of conflicts. Since its establishment the Commission has supported national reconciliation efforts especially after the 2024 presidential elections.

Drawing from our approach in ensuring the involvement of women and youth in governance, Sierra Leone has taken deliberate measures in legal and institutional law, reforming beyond removing barriers that impede their involvement to inclusive, safe and active participation. The passage of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act, 2022 and Public Elections Act 2022 ensured minimum 30% representation of women in political and public decision-making bodies. Currently, women comprise 30% elected ordinary members of Parliament – 34.5% of Ministers and 33% Deputy Ministers; 41% of elected Mayors/ Chairpersons, 34% of elected Councilors of Local Councils. Representation in the security sector has also increased to 23% for the Police and 13 % for the Armed Forces. As a marked demonstration of commitment to inclusive and safe participation of women and youths in peacebuilding and development, the fourteen-member tripartite platform set up for government and opposition to engage on critical national electoral reforms for enhancing democracy, national cohesion and peace, includes four women and four youth representatives.  

Sierra Leone continues to deepen partnerships with local, regional and international actors for advancing the legal, administrative and operational systems for WPS and YPS resolutions and gender-responsive humanitarian actions. The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, in collaboration with civil society groups such as the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and Campaign for Good Governance, has also integrated partnerships with youth peacebuilders in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and conflict prevention initiatives.  In 2009, Sierra Leone became the 4th country in West Africa and 7th in Africa to develop a National Action Plan for the full implementation of Resolution 1325. We have recently completed implementation of the Second-Generation National Action Plan and are in the process of finalizing the development of the Third Generation National Action Plan in collaboration with women civil society groups, youth organizations, and other stakeholders. 

The Government has also prioritized investing in the capacity, agency and leadership of young political leaders to strengthen their ability to collaboratively lead peace efforts and use their skills to tackle other concerns that affect their lives, particularly in these challenging times. Both the Youth in Politics and Peace Building and the Youth at Risk Projects aim to enhance social cohesion and dialogue for able-bodied and physically and mentally challenged youth. This is to enhance their involvement in civic engagements at national and community levels through training, change communication, advocacy, and awareness raising, as well as increasing access to skills training, prevention and protection services related to gender-based violence (GBV) and other harmful practices.  

Madame President,

Sierra Leone calls on member states and the international community to respond in a more determined and comprehensive manner to harness the untapped potential of young people and women, including  through improvements in education and training,  especially in practical technical/vocational and digital skills; increasing their economic participation through flexible financing schemes and entrepreneurship initiatives; and participation in policy formulation and decision-making through intentional appointments to leadership positions, and  extensive consultations on relevant issues. We call for the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and Youth Peace and Security.

In conclusion, the world today is home to 1.8 billion young people – the largest generation in history, and to 4.04 billion females. The voices and actions of women and youth as peacebuilders, decision-makers, human rights defenders and agents of change are fundamental to the durability of peace. 

I thank you!

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