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Women and Peace

Women and peace, women and war. We tend to focus on women and war if we focus on them at all. While women do tend to be innocent bystanders of war and face rape along with other atrocities, women hold a special place within war, with immense power to cross cut fighting factions and help build peace if properly facilitated.

UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security from 2000 has been hailed as a momentous step by the international community. According to the Centre for Democracy and Development however, it took 7 years of hard work to get the UN to Resolution 1325 beginning with "the Kampala Action Plan on Women and Peace (1993), the African Platform of Action on Women, Dakar (1994), the Forth World Conference on Women, Beijing (1995), and the Leadership Forum on Peace, Johannesburg (1996)... [Leading to the launch of] African Women's Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD)" in 1998. This was followed by The Pan-African Women's Conference on a Culture of Peace in 1999, which lead to Zanzibar Declararion and Agenda for Peace. "The Pan-African Women's Organization Peace Forum held in Algiers concluded its deliberations by launching the Algiers Appeal... The historic resolution [UN Resolution 1325] was the culmination of years of activism by women determined to challenge the classic perspectives on warfare that ignore both violence against women and, especially the significant contributions made by women to the peace process around the world."

Implications from Institute for the Future:

Although Resolution 1325 is groundbreaking, we must

It is important to keep in mind the concrete actions women have taken in peacebuilding outside of meetings and conferences to highlight their efforts and bring the international community up to speed on their value to the peacekeeping process. As such I would like to draw your attention to:

  • The 6th Clan of Somalia founded by Asha Haji Elmi. The political structure of Somalia is clan based with 5 clan distinctions represented in their Transitional Federal Government. Somalia's emphasis on clan elders as the judges and power-holders (and the international communities continued deemphasis on women) has frozen women out of peace talks. The 6th Clan was created to ensure the women of somalia were represented both in government and in peace talks. As such, the 6th Clan is a cross cut of fighting clan factions and a powerful tool to create change. In 2002 The 6th Clan was officially recognized and allowed to join peace talks held in Kenya.
  • The civil war in liberia which ended in 2003 after more than a decade of fighting was arguably resolved due to women. With the help of Leymah Bbowee who decided she was tired of seeing the boys and men in her country kill each other, she convened peace marches which, for the first, time included both Muslim and Christian women in the same organization. These peace marches eventually lead to then President Taylor and the Rebel Leader to agree to peace talks. When the peace talks fell apart in Ghana, these women forced the men to resolve them. Once the peace talks resolved and Charles Taylor fled the country the women of Liberia campaigned, and now they have a female president.

    Implications from Centre for Democracy and Development:

    "Women also continue to face obstacles to engagement in peace negotiations, these challenges require the strongest commitment in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) in the coming years. Advancing the peace and security agenda for women is critical to maintaining regional peace and security."

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    Sources:

    Center for Democracy and Development, Nov. 2010 pgs 5-6:
    http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/CDD_Nov2010.pdf#page=5

    6th clan of Somalia:
    http://kennedy.byu.edu/archive/index.php?id=877

    Liberia's female lead peace:
    http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/

    Image sources:
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3543503872/tt1202203
    (screen shot from Pray the Devil Back to Hell)