“Speaking Out: Women’s voices on Women, Peace and Security”
Dated: 01 August 2016
The foremost regional experts on Women, Peace and Security joined together on July 11th 2016 for a dynamic and stimulating evening of discussion hosted by UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific - "Speaking Out: Women's voices from Afghanistan, Nepal and Fiji". The event was an opportunity for a rich array of inspiring women, all working towards peace and equality to exchange ideas and strategies on enhancing women’s involvement in peacebuilding and ensure the voices of marginalized women are heard loud and clear throughout the entire peace process.
The real treat for all attendees was the opportunity to hear the speakers talk passionately about their priorities for advancing women’s role in peace and security. The impressive Bandana Rana from Nepal, newly elected as an expert member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, spoke with a contagious enthusiasm about how the promotion of the Women, Peace and Security agenda means that Nepali women now know how to assert their voices to be part of the peacebuilding process. New Zealand police officer Senior Sergeant Claire Bibby, agreed with this idea that civil society and women on the ground must benefit from peace and security initiatives.
A key theme to emerge from the night was that the Women, Peace and Security agenda is no longer limited to conflict, but extends to climate change and disaster reduction and reconstruction. Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, executive director of FemLINKPACIFIC a media-focused NGO from Fiji, highlighted this very important - and often neglected - link between peace and security and humanitarian action, and said that if we don’t integrate the women, peace and security agenda with humanitarian relief efforts, women will wind up unable to protect themselves or recover from environmental adversities.
Kyoko Hokugo, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Japan also underlined the importance of disaster reduction and prevention. She stressed that the Japanese National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security includes both post-conflict relief and reconstruction as well as disaster prevention and recovery because experience has shown that these two types of events produce similar outcomes.
The event brought to light the complexity of the issues that confront women and communities in times of conflict and insecurity and highlighted the need for solutions and approaches that reflect these realities. Vagisha Gunasekara, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Poverty Analysis in Sri Lanka, made the insightful observation that in most countries, the peace and security framework “tends to revolve around crimes in war time, disappearances, rape, killings, but what you don’t see is that the women who are grieving their dead and seeking the truth, are also fighting a constant battle with poverty”. She made clear that the less visible violence that occurs through economic structures and inequalities, should not be sidelined and must be addressed.
“Speaking Out: Women’s voices from Afghanistan, Nepal and Fiji” brought attention to the solidarity and brilliance of these remarkable women working tirelessly to ensure the participation, protection, and security of those affected by conflict and disaster in Asia Pacific. These champions for action are at the heart of sustainable change and peace.
Nikita Blanes is a SciencesPo graduate, with a B.A. from McGill University, who has been working towards gender equality for several years in different regions of the world.