No Peace Without Women 4/4
Women in Conflict Resolution/Transformation: Case Studies
MC: Mrs. Marcia de Abreu, WFWP Secretary General Europe, WFWP President in Spain.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. de Abreu referred to the approval of Resolution 1325 by the then President of the UN Security Council, Dr. Theo Ben Gurirab, in October 2000. On that occasion, women’s participation in peace negotiations was declared essential, confirming that women were necessary.
Women have been gradually stepping into areas of conflict prevention and resolution. However, despite impressive activities for peace in national and international organizations, it has been a difficult process to reach the negotiation tables. Unfortunately, women have not had the political clout necessary to bring transformation. Women continue to protest peacefully against the horrors of wars through demonstrations, declarations, statements, civil disobedience, peace camps and so forth, in order to avert the implementation of militaristic policies for resolving conflicts.
Mrs. de Abreu proceeded to welcome the first speaker of the panel.
H.E. Emilija REDŽEPI, Third Deputy Prime Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights, Kosovo.
H.E. Ms. Redžepi opened her address by noting that the involvement of women in processes during crises in history always resulted in superior and more sustainable outcomes. In her opinion, women make decisions wisely and confidently, but the outcomes frequently go unnoticed because of male suppression. Besides highlighting the urgent need for laws protecting women’s rights and their strict enforcement, Ms. Redžepi also advocated increasing the number of women candidates at the European level.
Referring to her homeland, Ms. Redžepi stated that Kosovo must strive towards creating a framework whereby all citizens have equal rights and importance, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion in order to establish a multinational and multicultural state. She believes that showing mutual respect and willingness to build coalitions while simultaneously rejecting the stereotype of women’s weakness or inferiority are important stepping-stones towards that goal. Furthermore, she views education as vital for prosperity for all. Particularly, in rural areas, many women lack basic education, and as widows, are often unsupported.
Ms. Redžepi named some governmental measures, which she recognizes as inadequate, but important first steps. These include agricultural projects enabling women to earn an income; free education for children; extra financial support for single and needy mothers. In conclusion, she thanked the hosts for inviting her to participate in the conference.
H.E. Mićić commenced her address by thanking WFWP for the chance to participate in the conference. She emphasised the necessity of women’s participation to bring an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and to all conflicts. This is reaffirmed by UN resolution 1325, ratified by Serbia, and adopted in its National Action Plan. Yet, women’s participation in formal negotiations alone is not enough.
Referring to the armed conflicts between Serbia and Kosovo, she said women did not participate, but led the anti-war policy through the NGO sector. After the war, women insisted on bringing perpetrators to justice and paved the way for the achievement of peaceful reconciliation. Referring to the Regional Women's Lobby, she highlighted their work which uncovered numerous examples of courage, such as saving the lives of people of other nationalities and helping them in need. One example was the late Kosovo Minister of Justice, whose two sons and husband were taken from their home and never returned. Yet she found the strength to advocate for reconciliation and peace. She concluded that despite rapid changes worldwide, the role of women is growing slowly. Thus, women need to persevere against marginalization and promote peace and justice.
Hon. Ms. Del Re began her address by emphasising the need for women to play a more central role in the design and implementation of post-conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities. She referenced the recommendations defined during the second edition of “Women in Conflicts”, held in Brussels on 9 June 2022. This event was co-hosted by the European Council President, Charles Michel, together with UN Women, Nadia’s Initiative and the Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation. The event participants concluded that clear actions are required to support the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in areas dealing with conflict prevention, crisis management and long-term peacebuilding. The EU will continue supporting states in conflict and post-conflict zones.
Ms. Del Re is the EU representative for The Sahel, a region which has seen an increase in armed conflict in recent years. This is seriously impacting the most vulnerable - youth and women. In her opinion, more action is needed; currently, they are working with local and regional partners to include Sahelian women in conflict prevention and resolution, mediation, post-conflict negotiation and reconstruction, and gender inclusion in security sector reform. Ms. Del Re believes integrating gender into peace programmes and processes is critically important, as well as adopting and implementing policies to empower gender equality. In conclusion, women make a difference and can be real agents of change.
Ms. Srruthi Lehka, Coordinator of the Youth Peace Conference “Peacebuilding Commission”, of WFWPI UN Office in Geneva, Germany-based development consultant and human rights activist, Co-founder and Director of Polity Link International.
In her address, Ms. Lekha strongly emphasised youth participation in decision making processes, for which certain criteria must be fulfilled. The youth need to be educated about ways of expressing their viewpoints, and they also need to be given space to participate and offer their ideas. Ms. Lekha, aged 22, invests in Youth Peace Accord programs, whose function simulates the real (UN) peace talks. In 2021 she co- organised the Peace Accord dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian situation with representatives from both sides and other students playing the role of other countries: It was an intense two-day period, while both sides shared their views. Eventually, they proposed several practical steps that could contribute to sustainable peace.
This year, in their attempt to tackle the North-South Korean issue, they faced the challenge of finding representatives for the participant nations. It was an amazing experience for both the participants and the audience as the youth adopted their roles exceedingly well. Again, they invented and offered several practical steps towards peace, which was astonishing given that most were high school students without special education in the field. Ms. Lekha concluded that NGOs are obliged to provide training for young people, and government bodies must create the space for them to come to the table.
MC: Mrs. Mitty Tohma, European Vice-President of WFWP, President of WFWP UK
Mrs. Tohma announces the presentation of a special project that is going to be launched at this conference and introduces Mrs. Anna Kalmatskaya, who is going to present it.
Mrs. Tohma had visited the Ukraine a view times herself; she shares about the encounter with refugees and IDP at an WFWP event. One lady especially she will never forget, how her face was etched in pain, and her whole body still shivering as she just had lost every one of her family. She was almost unable to talk. A center for social and psychological rehabilitation is so essential!
Mrs. Anna Kalmatskaya, Vice-President of the Women’s Federation for World Peace of Ukraine.
Referring to WFWP-Ukraine’s extensive experience since 2014 and more intensely since February 2022, Mrs. Kalmatskaya thanked European partners for their generous support for ongoing activities, which have included humanitarian aid distribution to 100 IDPs and evacuation assistance to 50 families.
Regarding WFWP members, she mentioned that although the majority had become refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs), their activities had not ceased. For example, Mrs. Tatjana Kotseba, President WFWP Ukraine and mother of five, remains in Kyiv despite hostilities.
As their work has increased substantially since the outbreak of the war, Mrs. Kalmatskaya presented details of their new project. This consists of a mobile team, providing humanitarian, medical and psychological relief to approximately 100 families that had fled the frontlines to small villages, now surviving in difficult conditions. Many are traumatized and require psychosocial support and some families have elderly and disabled members. They lack access to information on legal or social assistance, are in financial need and cannot apply for status as IDPs.
A register is kept by Ministry of Veteran Affairs of the Kyiv-Svyatoshin Center for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation in Boyarka, the cooperating partner of WFWP since 2014.