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Mrs. Marcia de Abreu, Secretary General, WFWP Europe, President, WFWP SpainMrs. Marcia de Abreu, Secretary General, WFWP Europe, President, WFWP SpainThe session moderator, Marcia De Abreu, secretary general for WFWP-Europe and president of WFWP-Spain, referred to the adoption of Resolution 1325 by the UN Security Council in October 2000. On that occasion, women’s participation in peace negotiations was declared essential.

Women have been stepping gradually into areas of conflict prevention and resolution, Mrs. De Abreu said. 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.


  

 

 

Hon. Emilija Redžepi, Third Deputy Prime Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights, KosovoHon. Emilija Redžepi, Third Deputy Prime Minister for Minority Issues and Human Rights, KosovoH.E. Emilija Redžepi, the third deputy prime minister of Kosovo for minority issues and human rights, noted that, throughout history, the involvement of women in solving crisis situations always resulted in superior and more sustainable outcomes. Women make decisions wisely and confidently, she said, 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, she advocated increasing the number of women candidates at the European level.

Kosovo must strive to ensure that all its citizens have equal rights and importance, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion, in order to establish a multinational and multicultural state, Ms. Redžepi asserted. Showing mutual respect and willingness to build coalitions while rejecting the stereotype of women’s weakness or inferiority are important steps toward that goal, she said. Furthermore, education is vital for prosperity. Particularly in rural areas, many women lack basic education and, as widows, often are unsupported.

Ms. Redžepi named some governmental measures 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.


 

H.E. Nataša Mićić, President of Serbia (2002-2004), Founder, Otpor! student movement H.E. Nataša Mićić, President of Serbia (2002-2004), Founder, Otpor! student movementH.E. Nataša Mićić, the president of Serbia (2002-2004), a lawyer, and the founder of the Otpor! (“Resistance!”) student movement, emphasized the necessity of women in ending conflicts—not only the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but all conflicts. This is reaffirmed by UN Resolution 1325, which was ratified by Serbia and adopted in its National Action Plan. Yet, women’s participation in formal negotiations is not enough.

Women did not participate in the armed conflicts between Serbia and Kosovo, she said, but rather led the anti-war policy through NGOs. After the war, women insisted on bringing perpetrators to justice and paved the way for peaceful reconciliation. The Regional Women's Lobby uncovered numerous examples of courage, such as saving the lives of people of other nationalities and helping them in need.

Ms. Mićić gave the example of the Kosovan 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.

Despite rapid changes worldwide, the role of women is growing slowly, Ms. Mićić said. Thus, women need to persevere against marginalization and promote peace and justice.


 

Hon. Emanuela Del Re, European Union Special Representative (EU SR) for the Sahel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy (2018 to 2021) Hon. Emanuela Del Re, European Union Special Representative (EU SR) for the Sahel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy (2018 to 2021) Hon. Emanuela Del Re, the European Union special representative for Africa’s Sahel region since 2021 and the Italian deputy minister of foreign affairs (2018-2021), emphasized the need for women to play a central role in the design and implementation of post-conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities.

She referred to the recommendations of the second “Women in Conflicts” conference, held in Brussels on June 9, 2022. This event was co-hosted by European Council President Charles Michel, together with the organizations UN Women, Nadia’s Initiative and the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation. The participants concluded that clear actions are required to support the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in conflict prevention, crisis management and long-term peacebuilding. The European Union will continue supporting states in conflict and post-conflict zones, she said.

Ms. Del Re is the EU representative for the Sahel, a region of Africa that has seen an increase in armed conflict in recent years. This is seriously impacting the most vulnerable—youth and women—and more action is needed, she said. Currently the European Union is working with local and regional partners to include Sahelian women in conflict prevention and resolution, mediation, post-conflict negotiation and reconstruction, as well as security sector reform.

Integrating gender into peace programs and processes is critically important, she said, 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, Polity Link InternationalMs. 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, Polity Link InternationalSrruthi Lekha, the coordinator of the “Peacebuilding Commission” youth peace conference of the WFWPI UN Office in Geneva, a Germany-based development consultant and human rights activist, and the co-founder and director of Polity Link International, strongly emphasized youth participation in decision-making processes, for which certain criteria must be fulfilled. The youth need to be educated in expressing their viewpoints, and they 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-organized 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 in which both sides gave 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 toward 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.


Click here for the presentation of the Ukraine Project.

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