On Monday June 24 2013, the United Nations Security Council met to vote on a new resolution on wartime sexual violence, which has reached epidemic proportions in conflicts around the globe. Resolution 2106 was passed unanimously and is the sixth United Nations resolution related to women, peace and security (joining resolutions 1325182018881889, and 1960). It is the fourth resolution focused specifically on conflict-related sexual violence.

During Monday’s meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s stated, “Sexual violence, whenever and wherever it occurs, is a vile crime. It must be exposed and met with the anger and action that it deserves.” Mr. Ban stressed that those who hold power and influence have a duty to step forward and be part of a global coalition of champions determined to break this “evil.”

One aspect of Resolution 2106 which I find particularly encouraging is the language on women’s participation. In the earlier resolutions on sexual violence, the emphasis on women’s empowerment and participation has been weak. Resolution 2106 reaffirms the critical importance of gender equality and women’s political, social and economic empowerment to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations. The Resolution “stresses women’s participation as essential to any prevention and protection response.” Women are not only victims in need of protection in conflict situations – they are powerful and crucial actors in ending violence and building a sustainable peace.