Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations at the Panel Discussion on the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Advancing Women’s Participation and Leadership

(as delivered)
Thank you Lana,

          And it’s a great honor to be here to talk on this very important issue of integrating a gender perspective in countering terrorism. We have already heard the top experts on the subject, so what I’ll try to do today is to introduce what Japan is doing on the ground as an example of how Member States might contribute to this question, the question of women’s empowerment in preventing violent extremism and countering terrorism. In so doing, I hope to provide a material for considering how we move forward on this important topic.

          One example of Japan’s efforts is the assistance in Cameroon through a UN Women project. This project identifies and provides Boko Haram victims with tailored assistance, including medical, psychosocial, legal and judicial support. Capacity of national actors to protect gender-based violence survivors was enhanced through the training of high-level police officers and instructors. To increase public awareness and social mobilization, local leaders were sensitized, and the project reached out to many people through individual and mass awareness meetings, door to door strategy, educational talks and group discussions.

          This project also contributed to the economic empowerment of women. The participants, these ladies received training on small business management skills, and also received economic kits that would enable them to start small businesses.

          So, allow me to take up a specific example and recount the story of thirty-six-year-old Saruta Andrawas, who was protected and empowered through this project. She is a former hostage of Boko Haram, widow and mother to four children. One day, Boko Haram came to their village. They killed her husband right in front of her and her children. They kidnapped Andrawas and her children and took them to the mountains in a cave where they were held for three months. Andrawas and her children were given food only once a day. Every day Boko Haram would tell them that they will kill them. But one night, Andrawas realized that the terrorists were not on guard. So, she and her children managed to escape to the refugee camp in the Far North region of Cameroon, where they found refuge at the Women Cohesion Space, which was set up and managed by UN Women. Japan is happy to have provided the necessary financing for the Women Cohesion Space, and we appreciate further contribution from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. This and other Spaces are now being jointly managed by UN Women and the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family of Cameroon. They are planned to be handed over to the host country Cameroon next year. At the Space, this lady Andrawas, received psycho-social assistance and counselling to regain her health.

          But this is not the end of the story. At the Women Cohesion Space, Andrawas received training on income-generating activities. She learned how to develop a business plan, keep daily records, and manage cash flow and credit. She also received bags of groundnuts and a grinding mill to start her own business of processing and selling oil.

          Today we stress not only the importance of women’s protection, but also the importance of women’s empowerment. Women are not just victims. Women’s role include shaping communities and family values, identifying and intervening at an early stage, early signs of radicalization, and using various forms of media to promote counter narratives.

          As we all know, the 5th Review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy notes the importance of the participation and leadership of women in effort to prevent violent extremism and counter terrorism. Last November, Japan hosted the Fourth World Assembly for Woman, in which many participants from around the world emphasized how critical women’s empowerment was to prevent terrorism and violent extremism.

          Japan believes that it is through contribution to such activities that donors can contribute most effectively. Last month, Japan decided to provide further financial assistance of around 18 million U.S. dollars through UN Women to various parts of the world for women’s protection, empowerment and leadership.

          To counter the enormous challenges facing us today, the international community must unite and take concrete action. Japan wishes to work closely with other Member States to play a part in women’s empowerment, leadership and participation in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.
Thank you very much.