What are Women bringing to Peace Processes, Conflict Prevention and Human Security?
Mrs. Carolyn HANDSCHIN, Coordinator of International Association of First Ladies for Peace for Europe & Middle East, President, NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva.
Mrs. Handschin began her opening remarks by welcoming all participants to the event and series of round table discussions. She thanked the organizing team: WFWP EUME; IAFLP (UPF); Renee Moawad Foundation and co-host HE Mme Nayla Moawad; supporting organizations: UN Women; NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva; and Soroptimists.
Calling on all to reject the view that violence and confrontation are an inevitable outcome of deteriorating relationships, Mrs. Handschin noted that the tragic consequences of war and conflict for all parties should urge everyone to actively seek peaceful solutions. To highlight civil society campaigns, she mentioned various successes: forbidding land mines to be used as a weapon of war and banning cigarette smoking in public places.
Referring to the eminent speakers from the UN, EU, public and private sectors and NGOs from various nations, Mrs. Handschin stated that they would enlighten the audience on women’s work in preventive diplomacy and neutralizing triggers of violent conflict. In addition, they would clarify more effective methods of working in greater solidarity, drawing on previous notable successes.
In conclusion, alluding to her personal experience as mother of a large family, Mrs. Handschin reminded the audience of the value of family relationships as a training ground in preventive diplomacy and neutralizing triggers of tensions. Furthermore, she emphasised that success there was more likely to be achieved through commitment, love and belief in the innate goodness of the perceived offender. Mrs. Handschin proceeded to welcome the first speaker.
Dr. Julia MOON, President of WFWP International, Director General of the Universal Ballet (1996- ), Vice Chairwoman, Sun Hak Educational Foundation,
Dr. Moon commenced her remarks by referring to the challenging global circumstances and the urgent need for women since such conflicts shake humanity’s confidence to achieve sustainable peace. However, Dr. Moon sees hope. Alluding to the world’s response to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, she views this as a touching example of how the power of one woman touched the hearts of many people beyond religious or political leanings. Queen Elizabeth vowed service to God and her people 70 years ago and remained faithful to that vow despite tremendous challenges. Thus, she demonstrates how the power for change in society is rooted in the heart of loving service for others.
WFWP asserts that human beings are created to seek peace and harmony and are naturally inclined to work towards a peaceful world. Dr. Julia Moon spoke of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, her beloved parents-in-law. They together founded WFWP in 1992 to encourage women to develop leadership qualities and skills in the quest for sustainable peace, recognizing that their experience as mothers and daughters, sisters and wives prepare them well.
Dr. Moon encouraged participants to take responsibility for their lives and thus find true freedom. She reminded the audience of the motto ‘Peace begins with me’, so simple, yet not so simple to realize. In conclusion, Dr. Moon expressed her appreciation for being able to partner with great women and men as she is meeting today, charting together a course for a sustainable culture of peace.
H.E. Nayla MOAWAD, First Lady of Lebanon (Nov. 1989), Founder and President of Rene Moawad Foundation (1991-); Member of Parliament, Minister of Social Affairs (2005-2008).
As a co-organiser of this conference, Her Excellency Ms. Nayla Moawad congratulated WFWP Europe and associated NGOs for their continued efforts to promote a Culture of Peace.
Reflecting on history up to today, Ms. Moawad drew attention to the many wars that have erupted worldwide. Hence, she emphasised women’s crucial role in promoting peace. Women, particularly mothers, tend to be more compassionate. Due their sensitive nature, they are more likely to collaborate and listen to one another.They play a key role in creating harmonious families and raising children. Thus, it is crucial to have women leaders work side by side with men in order to build a peaceful and prosperous society.
Her concluding statement offered support for these kinds of webinars and online gatherings to encourage women worldwide to proactively create a culture of peace in their societies and nations.
Ms Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (2017- ), former UN Ambassador in Vienna, Slovakia.
Ms. Algayerova described various platforms created to enable women to take substantial leadership and negotiation roles, which should serve as a guide to support governments. Referring to the economic situation, she elaborated on the vast regional differences, where some countries are dealing with existential uncertainties: turmoil due to conflict and post conflict situations. She emphasised the importance of communicating beyond political differences and sharing lessons learned. In order to find solutions, sustainable cooperation within all aspects of society, women and men, as well, is much needed.
UNECE collaborates with other organisations (international) and civil society to ensure that women are equally represented in decision-making bodies. Drawing on her own experience, Mrs. Handschin refers to the ambitious efforts of Ms. Algayerova to cooperate with NGOs in order to demonstrate more effective methods of engaging with their governments.
Ms. Adriana Quiñones Giraldo, Directorat the UN Women ́s Liaison Office in Geneva, former Policy Advisor in Asia and Latin America, Manager UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls in New York.
Ms. Quinones highlighted the multiple global crises, including: food insecurity, climate change and conflict, all of which have increased in the wake of the COVID pandemic. By the end of 2020 the number of forcibly displaced persons had more than doubled that of 2010. Twenty-two years ago, the Security Council approved Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The WPS Agenda was then established with the aim of increasing women’s participation in decision-making and peacebuilding. It also strives to ensure protection of girls and women in conflict-ridden zones, and prevent sexual and gender-based violence in addition to implementing relief and recovery measures.
Mrs. Quinones suggested increasing WPS funding while reducing military spending. She indicated that gender equality projects have a positive impact and yield a high return in peace dividends, while military spending in post-conflict settings put peace at risk. Generally, conflict- ridden countries spend twice or thrice as much on defence as on health care. More women need to participate in decision-making processes for peace and security and for defence and security expenditures.
Mrs. Quinones also emphasised the positive impact of women in uniform, such as UN-peacebuilding troops. They further trust-building within a community, which is critical in supporting reconciliation efforts, stability and the rule of law.