Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Reception for the delegation attending the UK Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict
03 June 2014
His Excellency Asif Ahmad, British Ambassador to the Philippines
Hon Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Members of the Senate and Congress
Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer
Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission
The delegation attending the Summit
Ladies and gentlemen
Firstly, thank you Asif for making your home available and for allowing me to co-host this important event.
I am pleased to be here with you all this evening. We have come together for a significant purpose: to recognise the importance of ending sexual violence in conflicts around the world.
I am honoured to be in the company of so many impressive and influential women. Women who have made, and will continue to make, such important contributions to the peace process in the Philippines.
Tonight’s event is a result of a Partnership Arrangement announced in March this year by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop, and the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, at the Australia-UK Ministerial Meeting.
Under this Arrangement, Australia and the UK have agreed to further partake in joint international development efforts, to ensure more coordinated, effective and sustainable results around the world. This includes our work on peace and stability.
So I must thank our British colleagues for providing the opportunity for Australia to be involved in the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, by co-sponsoring the delegation which will travel to the summit and conduct activities at the Summit Fringe Festival.
We are very pleased to be able to partner with the UK in this meaningful initiative. Just yesterday, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs hosted a national dialogue on preventing sexual violence in conflict in partnership with the UK High Commission in Canberra. The dialogue at Parliament House was an opportunity for representatives from government, civil society and academia to discuss the challenges and identify practical action to prevent sexual violence in conflict.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a violation of women’s human rights and is often an invisible, yet critical, obstacle to peacebuilding.
In conflicts around the world, women are frequently victims of atrocities and injustices. International evidence shows that violence against women escalates during times of conflict, and can remain even after the conflict has ended.
And so, Australia, alongside the UK, is proud to support this delegation of 12 Filipino women to attend the Global Summit in London. You, the delegates, will have much to share on the importance of women’s involvement in peacebuilding.
This support is consistent with Australia’s priority to protect women and girls from violence and encourage gender equality. We, along with our British colleagues, are proud supporters of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which recognises the role women play in preventing conflict, in building peace, and in preventing and responding to sexual violence in conflict.
As so many of you here tonight have already proven, women have a key role to play in influencing policies that improve the welfare of the nation, not just for women, but for everyone.
We believe that women’s participation in decision-making, leadership and peace-building is imperative and should be a right in itself. The evidence is clear that more participation by women results in fairer distribution of resources and improved sustainability of outcomes.
We recognise women’s capacity to make decisions on women, peace and security issues, and hope to support this in the work that we do here in the Philippines.
I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the efforts of so many Filipino women in the peace process — as negotiators, mediators, peacekeepers, relief workers and more. Your contribution is inspirational; it has set the bar high around the world.
Australia has a long history of supporting the peace process in the Philippines. Since 1996, we have been funding catalytic activities to encourage community-level peacebuilding, strengthen key institutions and promote peace in Mindanao.
As one example, we have partnered with a local non-government organisation to encourage women’s involvement in normalisation. Building on women’s unique experience of armed conflict and perspectives of normalisation, we are helping women contribute to a post-conflict environment that promotes equal human rights, livelihood opportunities for all and active political participation.
In March this year, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs warmly welcomed the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
It is an historic accomplishment on the path to achieving long-term security, stability and prosperity for the people of the southern Philippines. We commend the commitment of all parties in negotiating this agreement.
Following the signing of the agreement, Australia has been pleased to announce an additional $6 million, committed over the next three years, through our aid program, to help strengthen the peace process and boost capacity to implement the peace agreement.
As part of this commitment, we recognise the important role that women will play in the peace process, and have made women’s engagement a criterion by which we will provide funding support. And we hope that supporting this delegation proves Australia’s commitment to encouraging women’s equality and strong participation.
Each member of the delegation has contributed significantly to the peace process in the Philippines. You have a positive story to share.
And we hope to learn from you on your return.
Maraming salamat po.