This week marks the 11th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. Passed unanimously on October 31, 1999, this seminal resolution was the first of five focused on the need for and the value of increased women’s participation and protection in efforts to prevent, resolve, and rebuild following conflict.

The other resolutions—1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960—all amplified the call and increased the  focus on addressing sexual violence during conflict and ensuring women a voice in peace-building. These resolutions serve as reminders of not only the destructive effects of war on women but also the powerful roles they play in rebuilding peace and societies.

The spirit and intent of the resolution was honored this year when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women; Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni movement leader Tawakkul Karman. They represent the thousands of women around the world working tirelessly to return peace and prosperity to war-torn communities.

USAID is standing with them, supporting women in Kyrgyzstan helping lead inter-ethnic reconciliation as part of the country’s political transition and helping create space for South Sudanese women to participate in dialogs about the best path to development in the new Republic of South Sudan.

While recognizing women’s leadership, we must also acknowledge the need to better protect women facing violence and instability. On a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, I spoke with displaced women raped while collecting fuelwood; their stories tell us how critical it is to support production and distribution of fuel-efficient cookstoves that reduce how frequently women and girls need to walk unsafe distances to collect fuelwood.  USAID is supporting that effort for families in and around the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

The U.S. Government continues to stress the importance of women’s equal and full participation as promoters of peace and security. Last year, in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of UN Resolution 1325, Secretary Clinton launched a White House-led interagency process to develop a National Action Plan to advance the role of women in peace processes, protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence, and promote their safe, equitable access to assistance in crisis and conflict environments.  At the same time, the plan will seek to empower women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened by insecurity.  USAID is actively participating in this effort, committed to ensuring women have a seat at the table to both prevent conflict from occurring and play a substantive role in peace processes

USAID recognizes that peace-building and development efforts are more durable when women are fully engaged. Please celebrate the anniversary of passage of UN Security Resolution 1325 as a critical milestone in the push to ensure more inclusive and sustainable peace-building and development.