Event Recap: Doing More to Empower Women in Peacebuilding

March 25, 2019

AfP, Peace Direct, Peace is Loud, Aware Girls, Women in International Security, and the Gender Equality Initiative in International Affairs at the Elliott School (George Washington University) held a panel on March 21st at George Washington University

Diversity and Gender Matters:

Doing More to Empower Women in the Peacebuilding Field

In case you missed it, watch it below!

Increasing diversity and women’s empowerment is critical for a country’s development and path to sustainable peace. In the last two decades, we have seen heightened global advocacy, policy, and programming efforts to empower women in international development and peacebuilding programs. But we still have a long way to go to learn from the evidence and integrate women into peacebuilding processes and their solutions.  We should make gender inclusion the rule, not the exception.

Uzra Zeya, CEO and President of AfP, stated, “The case for women’s inclusion in peace processes is clear and supported by rigorous data…when women participate in peace processes, resulting agreements are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years… It is not [just] nice to do, but it is essential before, during, and after the conflict.”  Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, President of Women in International Security, pointed out that the representation of women in the peace process is going down.  The security establishments are run by men, and there is very little incentive for them to change the process or the hierarchy.  We have made these issues “women’s issues,” and they have been pigeonholed as simply secondary issues.  We need to make these issues gender issues that include everyone, not just women, and to look at the distribution of power.  We must hold the policymakers accountable for the policy frameworks they develop.

Saba Ismail, Co-Founder of Aware Girls, challenged the portrayal of women as passive victims of terrorism in Pakistan; instead women are vital actors in engaging young people, peer education, and interfaith dialogues. She added that there is a backlash against women who are working toward peace in many countries, where they are labeled as “anti-state.”

Uzra added that while research shows that representation of women is appalling in peacebuilding processes—where they make up just 2% of mediators and 8% of negotiators – “there’s more progress to be made at the leadership level of our own peacebuilding organizations.”  Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Founder of Peace Direct, believes that the evidence is clear but what is lacking is the action of integrating women into the process and listening to their solutions, including compassion and a focus on the victims of violence.

Jamie Dobie, Executive Director Peace is Loud, stated that at a dinner party with newspaper editors, she discovered that many “had never thought of reporting on conflict from the perspective of women.”  She believes that we need a policy and culture change—and to do that, we need a narrative change.  To do that, Peace is Loud has created the film Women, War & Peace II.  Please watch: tonight, Monday, March 25. 

New start-times are below:
Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs: 9:30 p.m. edt and The Trials of Spring: 10:30 p.m. edt