March 19, 2014 – It is more dangerous to be a woman in some places in the world than it is to be a soldier, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a Georgetown audience today after receiving an award for his leadership in promoting women, peace and security.
Rasmussen is the third individual to receive the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security, created by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) led by executive director and Georgetown alumna Melanne Verveer.
“The harsh reality is that in many conflict areas today it is it more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier,” the former prime minister of Denmark said after being presented with the award by Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “…Women time and again find themselves marginalized in these processes and they don’t get a chance to make their views known.”
“But if women don’t play an active part in making peace and keeping peace, then the needs and interests of half of the world’s population are not taken into account,” he said.
Leading by Example
Rasmussen received the award for integrating women, peace and security into NATO’s mandate and operations.
He called Clinton a “powerful voice for peace for democratic freedoms and for human rights.”
“Hillary is an inspiration for us all,” Rasmussen said. “She challenges us all to show leadership on the vital issues of women peace and security. She has consistently encouraged NATO to lead by example and that’s exactly what we have done.”
Agents of Change
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier presented the award to British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at Georgetown on Feb. 26, when Rasmussen was not able to attend.
“He has boldly led NATO’s efforts to integrate women, peace and security into the alliance’s operations,” Clinton said in a video tribute shown at the event. “He understands that women are agents of change and drivers of progress, not just victims and survivors.”
Verveer, who most recently served as the U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, moderated a question-and-answer session with Rasmussen.
She noted that she heard him speak at a conference in Copenhagen on the role of women in global security in 2010.
“In his compelling address, which I well remember, he underscored the important role that women can and must play in preventing conflict and in building peace,” she said. “And he described the ways in which NATO was incorporating that perspective and women’s participation in its overall operations. … it is for his exemplary leadership at NATO in advancing women, peace and security that we honor him today.”
Rasmussen also noted in the question-and-answer session that he believes whoever becomes the new president of Afghanistan will sign a security agreement with America and that the new government will protect women’s rights.
He said the most pressing security challenge for NATO is right now is Ukraine and called “what is seen in Crimea is a threat to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.”
In December 2011, then-Secretary of State Clinton announced the formation of GIWPS when she unveiled the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown. Clinton currently serves as the honorary founding chair of the institute.
“We are here today for this award ceremony because of the work of this institute – its leadership, the urgency of its mission, its substantive impact,” DeGioia said at today’s event.
In its first year, the institute has “convened leaders, scholars and practitioners in dialogue,” provided a way for students to “more deeply engage these issues” and undertaken research to “advance the broader dialogue on the role of women in conflict and peacebuilding,” he explained.
“And it has provided our community this meaningful way to recognize the contributions of leaders from around the world and their work to advance women in peace and security,” DeGioia added.