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Maybe Women Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Be Part of Peace Processes

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U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in October 2000, stresses the need for women to participate in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, providing a platform for women involvement in peace negotiations. Twelve years later, in a world of continuing instability and violence, it’s become imperative to critically look at how far this resolution has gone to bring about peace.

Although women have begun to play an important role in conflict resolution, defense and in foreign affairs mechanisms through their activism within civil society organizations, they are still under-represented in agenda setting and in decision-making positions.

Peace agreements and institutional arrangements in post-war and conflict times still lack the basic provisions for gender equality, such as reform processes for the specific security needs of women and girls, the infusion of women staff in the institutions concerned, and the required infrastructure and human resources need for the reception of victims of gender based violence, to name a few. UNSC Resolution 1325 was adopted by unanimous vote, and yet out of the 193 UN member states, only 24 countries have adopted national action plans for its implementation, 6 of which are from Africa.

Do we dare to critically look into whether or not our male-dominated institutions really want to take on steps that would positively affect the lives of more than half of the population? Although such a gender sensitive approach to peace is highly cost effective, war and conflict has become profitable and sustained during times of global economic recession.

Trillions of dollars are spent on weapons, emergency humanitarian aid for displaced persons and peacekeeping missions in countries where peace seems to be nowhere in sight, and yet too little money and time are invested on helping women, the most victimized demographic group of conflict areas, participate in peace negotiations and peacebuilding initiatives.

While entire communities suffer from the consequences of armed conflict, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society and their sex. Parties to conflict often rape women and girls with impunity, sometimes using systematic rape as a tactic of war. Conflict causes a mass flow of refugees and other displaced persons, the majority of which are women, adolescent girls and children. Women find themselves heading single-parent households without having any prior education or work experience, and too often they play the role of care givers of injured combatants and elderly relatives. Conflict expands the horizons of responsibilities of women who are traditionally shackled with family care and maintenance, and yet we still don’t allow them the space and place to be involved or consulted when peace is being discussed or negotiated.

We can make excuses for this lack of attention toward what could mean sustainable peace, but as long as women do not dominate or play an active role in the economy, there is little chance that their participation in peacebuilding will be entertained. Let’s face it: Conflict means money and the pillaging of natural resources for warlords, imperialist forces and multi-national corporations. What makes us think that such chauvinistic, money- and power-hungry institutions will give an ear to women participation in peacebuilding processes, a matter not only of equal rights but also sustainable peace?

We have reached a time where the question of whether or not women should be included in peace processes is no longer relevant. Instead we should be asking if we can afford not to have women systematically involved in peace negotiations. If you are part of the 1% who profit from war and conflict, the answer is “no”. However, if you are part of the 99% of the world population who are sick of their taxes being spent on sustaining war, if you are a victim of conflict, and if you are tired of wishing for peace on earth without seeing anything on the news that suggests your wish will come true any time soon, then the answer is ‘YES!’.

We cannot afford NOT to have women involved in peace negotiations. Unfortunately, because the world economy is hooked on sustaining conflict, women participation could mean building sturdy foundations for reconciliation processes that could potentially diminish the cost of war and armed conflict. Now who would really want that?

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

Stella Paul's picture

'Yes' it is!

Dear Rachel
Normally, I am always taking sides of the minority, fighting for their rights. But this time, its the majority I find myself with and so, whether or not women should play crucial role in peace building, my answer is an emphatic 'yes'. Women keep the battle alive, continued battle keeps alive hope and hope leads us to a better tomorrow. Much love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Rahel Weldeab's picture

You got the message!

Thank you so much Stella for your lovely comment. You've definitely got the message I was trying to portray in this OpEd, and I'm very happy that I was able to portray it as such. It is very hard to get concrete figures as to how much we spend on war and not on women participation in peacebuilding, but to encourage people to side with the 'minority' who are really the majority (i.e. the 99%) is definitely what I was trying to do.

Thank you again for your encouragement!!

Caitlyn's picture

Excellent work, Rahel!

What an incredible piece of writing, thank you so much for sharing. You write so clearly and bring home a very powerful, persuasive message. If only we could get all those war-mongers out there to read this, perhaps they would see what a waste of resources war is, and how if only women could be more involved in the peace-building process, amazing things would begin to happen...Thank you again. Yours, Caitlyn

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Spreading the word

Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I will be trying to pitch this OpEd to other websites. Hopefully there will be a war-monger or two who will read this and get the message. I'm a true believer in how the the power of feminine wisdom can really bring peace to this war-forsaken world we live in. We just have to spread the word and get more women to write about the subject.

Thanks again!

malba66's picture

Rahel, What a phenomenal

Rahel,

What a phenomenal peace! Power packed! No other way to describe it. Of course, we should be, but your sharp analysis of why we are excluded is so on point!

Thank you!
I hope that somebody picks it up!

Mari

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Thanks!

Thank you for your comment... totally honored, especially since I just love your posts. Feels awesome getting a positive review from such a positive chica! You're one of my favorite 2012 VOF correspondents!!!

Juliette Maughan's picture

Women and security

Hi Rahel,

I took quite a bit away from your piece that I wanted to share:

1. As Stella mentioned, the concept of the 99% versus the 1% not only in terms of supporting war but also benefitting from sustaining it. This is actually a concern for many countries where war is taking place or where governments are support the wars.
2. Security of women in war affected countries. The rape, the immediate risks associated etc and their ability to protect themselves physically and financially.

You make the point "We can make excuses for this lack of attention toward what could mean sustainable peace, but as long as women do not dominate or play an active role in the economy, there is little chance that their participation in peacebuilding will be entertained."

I have two questions for you: how do you think that a more active role of women in the economy could create peace in your country? and what have women been doing in your country to protect themselves right now? Just interested in your views.

Thanks for writing this Op-Ed it was very interesting.

Juliette

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Regional and international context

You know, usually when I talk about peacebuilding, I talk about it in a regional sense (i.e. the Horn of Africa) and not within my own country, Eritrea. We don't have internal conflict as such; our last conflicts happened because of the second party, outside of the state. So to answer your questions, I will speak in the context of both my sub-region and on an international level.

I think that generally, women playing an active role in economies would mean that they would have more power, and that in turn would mean that they would be recognized as valuable stakeholders that should be allowed to participate in decision making (in the context of peacebuilding, it would mean allowing them to participate in peace processes and peace negotiations). Deep down, I see no logic in the idea that only the wealthy should be able to be part of decision making processes. Anybody, who is affected by some action or policy has the right to voice their opinion and be part of decision making. In other words, we all have the right to have a say in the things that affect us, despite our class. Unfortunately however, in our world today, only the very rich (the 1%) are deciding on global issues and policies. So in my OpEd, I tried to express the irony of the situation by saying that if only women controlled the financial markets, then they would be taken into consideration as indispensable decision makers. In the smaller community context, it would mean that a woman would have to own property and/or own a major business to be considered powerful enough to have a say. Weird logic, but on a global and local level everything on the ground suggests that it is true.

In the Horn of Africa, there are a few peace building initiatives lead by women organizations and networks including SIHA and EASSI. These regional initiatives advocate for women rights especially in conflict areas, but like I've mentioned in this article, such noble initiatives are not given enough attention. The way that women can protect themselves right now, in my opinion, is to get highly involved in such initiatives and within their own communities. To me, nothing beats active citizenship when it comes to ensuring one's rights.

Thank you so much for your feedback! PS. I just love your articles!!

Juliette Maughan's picture

Passion

Hi Rahel,

I hope I did not come across as challenging. More recently, I have been making a conscious effort to ask questions as a way of learning more and digging deeper into perceptions and realities so I thank you for taking the time to respond.

Those are some very interesting organisations indeed! Thank you for sharing them. I shall save them and explore further.

I see that you are very passionate about this subject :). I also note the links between women's participation and decision making (politics), women's economic empowerment as critical for security issues within the region and the world.

Thank you for your kind words and for sharing.

Juliette

Rahel Weldeab's picture

Challenging?

When you say challenging, are you hoping that you didn't come across as challenging in a negative way? Of course not! In fact, you didn't come across as challenging at all... you only came across as someone interested in the issues, challenging me to look even deeper to the message I'm sending out. If your comments are challenging at all, they only challenge me to increase my knowledge on the subject matter and to write more. This being the case, please sister, do feel free to challenge me as much as you like! Whether you know it or not, you are inspiring me to reach my full potential.

Thank you for making a conscious effort to ask questions. In fact, I seriously think it is something that all of us VOF correspondents should do, especially those of us who are activists too. We should definitely dig deeper into perceptions and realities if we are to here to empower ourselves to bring about positive change within our communities and the world at large. When fellow correspondents ask questions, it wakes us up to the possible ways we can improve our writing and make our messages clearer. It's also a great way to figure out the answers our future articles should strive to answer. Please, keep it up!

BlueSky's picture

Right On

Simply right on, at every level Rahel. Boldly and effectively delivered. I love the tongue-in-cheek. Really, a compelling read, and a powerful argument!

Yes, get this article in circulation!

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Love It!

I love your op-ed! It is concise, powerful and brings the importance of supporting women's inclusion in peace-making perfectly. I can't believe only 24 nations have created action plans to implement a resolution that was voted on by 193 nations! This is disgusting. Your points about the profitability of war and conflict are right on as well. One thing that is missing for me though, is what is the solution? What can we do to make sure countries create and implement action plans on this resolution? Who is working towards this?

Keep up the great work,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

usha kc's picture

WOW!! what a post sista!!

WOW!! what a post sista!! loved it.

hugs

noreens's picture

Rahel, Your op-ed is strong

Rahel,

Your op-ed is strong and to the point. You did a great job! I feel that women are so capable of making a huge difference. I look at the town that I live in, and the men who have been in power who have done NOTHING, and we see no changes year after year. I always say that if a woman was in charge, things might be so different. Good job!

Noreen

ikirimat's picture

I agree

Your OpEd is strong and the message is clear. We need women at the forefront of peace building. In Uganda, we were only able to stop the war in Northern Uganda after the involvement of the women in the negotiations and peace building process.

You are 100% right

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Frances Faulkner's picture

Leadership

Rahel,

You are a natural leader with your strong, clear words and your call for action. "We cannot afford NOT to have women involved..." is such a true statement. Women over centuries have learned to operate in the background, some with influence, some without, but the time is here for a move to the foreground. We must escort ourselves to that place.

Thanks for this closer look at UN Resolution 1325. It's a springboard.

Frances

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Peace be it

Dear Rahel,

Peace is expensive to build and easy to destroy,especially we who are your neighbours.Having lived on the borders of Ethiopia-Kenya.Peace was always on peoples,s mind but in practice it was wanting.I saw many women groups trying to forge together and help build peace,but most a times there efforts was in vain.Maybe it worth rethinking our values as a society,what is that we want from this world?
Great work

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

MaDube's picture

Excellent piece with precise

Excellent piece with precise and specific recommendations. I did find one statistic you mentioned very worrying. Only 1% of the people in this world want to sustain war while 99% want peace, yet wars continue and he peace lovers die in hunger and poverty. This statistic made me realise that where the money is, so is the power and even the power to hurt and destroy a whole planet. This point comes out clear in your op-ed and I suppose that is why women's effort sin peace-building is excluded and hence women are targeted with violence. The 1% know how to sustain their stranglehold on power and will not allow us as women and as change-makers to occupy spaces where we can change things drastically. Well done piece!

Best,

MaDube

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Forceful writing

Thanks Rahel for this soulful piece. It's insecure men who ignore women and their voices - hence we must continue writing and fighting for ourselves and our sisters worldwide.

Hope u've pitched it for republication elsewhere. Awaiting u'r next!

Love and best wishes,
Pushpa

Nancy WiseWoman's picture

Terrific Work!

Congratulations, Rahel,
This needs to be "out there" as does your reply to Juliette! You have stated so clearly and specifically why women need to be part of the leadership that moves communities and countries into the peace process. Your writing is powerful, Rahel, and your passion for this issue is both grounded and inspiring! The UN Commission on Women begins their meeting on Feb 27th in NYC. Women worldwide are holding 5 min. of silence the evening before for the intention that powerful action could result. I'll join with you and the world pulse sisters for that end and also to hold a prayer that your piece and writing becomes a major voice for all women and especially those of Africa.
Thank you!
Nancy Cosgriff

Nancy Cosgriff

Greengirl's picture

Impressive Caption

.......and content too! I could never come across such a topical statement and not make out time to read through. I am glad I did! you sure hit the nail on the head, and I hope world leaders get to read your piece. Definitely, the world cannot afford NOT to have women involved in peace negotiation processes. I hope those who are merely using such agitations to score cheap political scores, will wake up to this realization before it is too late. With God on women's side, it will never be too late.

Olanike Olugboji

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