Creating Conditions for Peace and Development
MC: Ms. Senida Mesi, Deputy Prime Minister of Albania (2017-19), Member of Parliament representing Shkodër ( 2017- 2021).
Ms. Mesi, a key organizer of the event, and the mind behind the conference theme, “No Peace without Women” opens the session with the following words: “As a development economist I always thought that we need a culture of peace and to solve conflicts in order to really invest in health and education and to have sustainable growth.” It is not always seen that way. She welcomes the panel and encourages the speakers to share their views on the topic.
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)
Dr. Yakoobi thanked the WFWP and conference co-hosts for the invitation. She proceeded to share her experience of supporting Afghan children’s education, specifically girls!
In response to frequently asked questions about her passion for learning, she replied that she believes health, prosperity and peace depend on good schooling. Having 31 years of experience of providing education, Dr. Yakoobi has seen wonderful leaders emerge from her schools. However, she is currently faced with oppression and must return to almost zero.
Yet, she has the drive to resume her work in a new form. The Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) owns a TV station in Afghanistan and is now reaching Afghan children through a curriculum being taught via TV (at home or in a community centre). While this does not replace school, at least it serves as a temporary solution.
Speaking generally on the success of any program, Dr. Yacoobi emphasised the importance of being close to the people, understanding their culture and seeing their needs. She believes that anything coming from abroad will likely fail. In her view, differences must be overcome within Afghanistan to achieve unity, which is critical for the country to move forward.
In conclusion, Dr. Yacoobi praised Afghani women, who have persevered regardless of their extreme obstacles, while supporting each other.
Dr Ingeborg Breines, former Director of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Program, Senior Advisor to the Permanent Secretariat of the Nobel Peace Prize, Norway.
Dr. Breines opened her speech by offering appreciation to the hosts of the conference for providing a platform to discuss and search for peaceful, just and durable solutions to conflicts. She considers this vital in times of so much polarization.
Referring to courageous women over the centuries who have used their creativity and caring capacity to help build peaceful, non-violent societies, she highlighted the first woman Nobel Peace Laureate, Bertha von Suttner. Quoting from her renowned anti-war novel ‘Lay down your arms’: we need to ‘develop an active disgust for war’. Each time weapons and hatred are allowed to take the upper hand, both humanity and humanism lose.
Dr. Breines also cited Eleanor Roosevelt: “Nobody won the last war; nobody will win the next”. “War should end in the dustbin of history”. She recalled the astronomic military budget (exceeding $2 trillion dollars annually), which corresponds to more than 600 regular yearly UN budgets. This should be used to cover educational and other activities to enable the UN system to do its work. Eight days of the world’s military budget would provide twelve years free, quality education to all children worldwide.
Dr. Breines concluded that learning to live peacefully together is the most important pedagogical and political challenge for us all.
Mr. Marcus Lenzen, Senior Advisor & Deputy Chief Peacebuilding Fund UN (United Nations since 2017).
Mr. Marcus LENZEN dealt with the funding of UN Peacekeeping activities in his presentation; he expressed explicitly the need for greater funding for initiatives that include women. He underscored previously mentioned statements supporting women’s inclusion in peace processes and reaffirmed that peace works better and lasts longer when women are meaningfully involved. Therefore, financial support must be used meaningfully. Financial support for the participation and role of women in the peace process must be prioritized; unfortunately, this aspect remains underfunded in most cases.
Pertaining to peacebuilding, Mr. Lenzen views it as a long process where the three phases of conflict must be considered: before, during and after conflict. He added that empowering women is just as important as encouraging men to change their attitudes. To address this issue, he and his team are working to help women become economically empowered. He cited the example of his support for women entrepreneurs' projects in marginalized regions of Colombia.
Therese COMODINI Cachia, Member of the European Parliament (2014-2017),
Human Rights Lawyer.
Ms. Comodini Cachia, opened her address by referring to a decision she had made some time ago when faced with a career choice between journalism and politics. She chose journalism and focused on human rights activism. She stressed the importance of politics taking a holistic view of the world and adopting an integrated approach to solving problems, together, rather than each nation seeking solutions individually.
In her view, when the international community at the UN seeks the commitment of politicians to work towards peace, conflict-prevention and human security, it does so in the belief that the population of every territory is part of the global family. Assuming that all people, irrespective of race, ethnicity, sex, religion are part of one population, she argued that when one, as part of a national collective, makes the wrong decision, it affects everyone as part of the global collective.
Referring to two important watchdogs of human rights – journalism and activism – she warned that they are being endangered rather than being enabled. In conclusion, Ms. Comodini appealed for the absolute freedom of journalism as a precondition for a free and just world, which should include gender equality.