UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (Xinhua) -- UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on Tuesday called for efforts to boost women's role in peace and security in the Sahel region.
Mohammed, who has just returned from a joint UN-African Union mission to the three Sahel countries of South Sudan, Niger and Chad, stressed the need to address the stark cost that women and girls pay for conflict.
"This was particularly evident in South Sudan, where we visited women in protection of civilian sites who spoke of the violence they face both inside and outside the camps. It was also borne out in the stories of women in rural areas of Chad, where the impact of Boko Haram (terrorist group) has resulted in insecurity, loss of family members and the increased use of female suicide bombers," she told the Security Council in a debate on women, peace and security in the Sahel.
Mohammed also emphasized women's inclusion, representation and participation in all areas of society.
Women in the Sahel demand greater participation in decision-making, she said. In South Sudan, they asked that their voices be heard in Juba, Addis Ababa and Khartoum in the peace process. In Chad and Niger, they advocated for implementation of legislation on a quota for political participation, and recognition of their role in the economy and in preventing violent extremism, she said.
She also asked to keep countries experiencing fragility today from becoming the failed states of tomorrow.
Chad and Niger are dealing with challenges that are largely not of their making, including insecurity that originated beyond their borders and climate change that respects no borders at all, she said.
Despite their own constraints, they are among the world's most generous hosts of refugees. But the impact on their economies and development aspirations has been profound, said Mohammed.
She asked the international community to step up and help. "This means urgently increasing our budget support for development in these and other fragile countries. This is a matter of human dignity first and foremost. But it is also a matter of peace and security."
She asked to move from principles to concrete action. "Investing in peace now in this region will bring lasting global dividends to all."
The cost of inaction is high. Poverty, weak institutions and gender inequality, including the abhorrent practices such as child marriage, are creating an environment ripe for extremism, she warned.
The Sahel is the northernmost part of sub-Saharan Africa, a vast belt stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea.