Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt’s Remarks at the Women’s Participation in Law Enforcement Forum

AMBASSADOR GALT: Good afternoon.

State Secretary Bayartsetseg, distinguished guests, colleagues,

It is an honor to be here today and to hear so much about women’s contributions to national security policy and law enforcement in Mongolia.

This forum is taking place at an opportune time, just days before we celebrate International Women’s Day.  This year marks its 105th observance.  In its early years, the day honored the women’s rights movement, including efforts to win the right to vote and hold public office and to end discrimination in the workplace.  Today the day is observed as a time to reflect on progress, call for change, and celebrate women who have made a difference in their communities and countries.

Those of us here today recognize that no society can reach its full potential if it leaves 50 percent of its people behind.  The United States has been and will remain a strong advocate for women’s equal and full participation in all aspects of public life, including security, conflict prevention and resolution, and peacekeeping.  It is because we so value women’s participation in these areas that we adopted a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.  Since December 2011, this plan has been our signature strategy for implementing our commitments to the UN’s global women, peace, and security agenda.  The plan’s goal is as simple as it is profound:  to ensure women are equal partners in all aspects of peace-building and conflict prevention, as well as to protect women from violence, including gender-based and domestic violence.

In October 2015, the United States reaffirmed our support for women as equal partners in peace and security through a series of monetary commitments totaling $31.3 million.  This will fund initiatives around the world that promote women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making and help protect them from brutality.

In Mongolia, the United States has historically enjoyed close collaborative relationships with law enforcement agencies, and we have seen the progress women have made in these organizations.  Today, women make up an increasingly large percentage of personnel, and they are increasingly taking on leadership roles.  One of the many Mongolian staff at our embassy, in fact, rose to become the National Police Agency’s first female colonel before she retired and (luckily for us!) joined our team.  A Takhar Service member last year became the first Mongolian female law enforcement officer to attend the FBI’s prestigious national academy in Quantico, Virginia, with support from our embassy and the FBI.  Last year as well, I was pleased to see our embassy hire its first female Mongolian investigator.

We are looking forward to directly exploring the inclusion of women in the security sector later this year through a multilateral workshop co-hosted by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and the Mongolian Institute for Strategic Studies.  The event will bring together experts from nine countries, and we are hopeful they will be able to identify structural impediments to women’s participation in peace and security, as well as ways to address those challenges.

In line with our National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security and with the United States’ global efforts to protect women from violence, we are also working in a variety of ways in Mongolia to help combat domestic violence.  We have provided $400,000 to the International Development Law Organization to train teams of police, prosecutors, judges, and shelter workers on domestic and international best practices to prevent and respond to domestic violence.  We have also provided $235,000 to the National Center against Violence – a Mongolian organization that is doing great work in this area – to strengthen shelters’ capacity to provide services to victims.  We hope these programs will lead to better understanding of the terrible problem of domestic violence and bring about changes that will improve the lives of the women and children who are its victims.

Unfortunately, the promise of inclusion has not always led to concrete progress – not in police forces and militaries, not in peace processes, and not in politics and government.  And the perceptions of women and girls remain at times stubbornly one-dimensional.  People still tend to look at women and girls as victims instead of influencers and leaders.

Today we are privileged to hear that so many women in Mongolia are proving these perceptions wrong and are looking for ways to make progress, so that we have even more to celebrate when we next mark International Women’s Day.

As we look to the future, there is no shortage of challenges that threaten peace and security.  Those of us here today know that women are key to addressing those challenges.  And that is why we are grateful to the Ministry of Justice for hosting this event and to all of you for being here and for the work you do every day.

Thank you.