The power of women participating in conflict prevention and peace talks
EIGE’s Director Carlien Scheele gave an online address for the ‘Women, Peace and Security: Building Alliances for Sustainable Peace’ Forum held on 22-23 October 2022 in Prishtina, Kosovo, hosted by the President of the Republic of Kosovo Dr. Vjosa Osmani.
Dear Madame President and dear colleagues,
It is my pleasure to be here with you today, even if it’s through a screen.
Today, we are addressing a key question for the Women, Peace and Security Forum.
This couldn’t come at a more pressing time. In the fallout of the pandemic as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine, this is a wake-up call to remind us that this topic is more relevant now than ever.
The participation of women in conflict prevention and peace talks vastly improves the outcomes before, during and after conflict – but they are often excluded from the formal peace processes.
Why is this the case? Well, we need to look at key areas affecting women’s engagement in the peace process. Some areas I mention, may seem like they are an afterthought or are not directly related – but I am here to tell you why they are central to the issue.
The first thing we must do is lean into evidence-based knowledge. EIGE is the EU’s knowledge base on gender equality, providing fertile ground for policy making.
We provide consistent, comparable and reliable data on gender equality for decision-makers across the Member States – and in recent times, we have expanded our reach to the Western Balkans and Türkiye.
This enables policymakers to design policies that respond effectively to all citizens – capturing the real needs of everyone.
With that, we are very pleased to be collecting data on women and men in the area of decision-making in Kosovo.
And congratulations to Kosovo on taking concrete steps towards developing a Gender Equality Index with EIGE’s support - and funded by the European Commission.
This year EIGE launched its #3StepsForward campaign engaging with policy makers, civil society and community leaders, asking them to come up with their proposed #3StepsForward towards a stronger, more inclusive economy.
Now, the reason why I couldn’t be with you in person, is because I am at EIGE’s first-ever Gender Equality Forum in Brussels and online, where the true meaning of the #3StepsForward campaign is being brought to life.
In our 2-day Forum, we are engaging in dialogue across many issues related to gender equality with high-level political decision-makers, practitioners and civil society. We are stronger when we actively forge alliances. Joining up is wising up. Now, if we want to see more women engage in peace processes - attention must also be brought to ending gender-based violence. Ending gender-based violence has to be in continual focus – and not an afterthought. I congratulate you for including the Istanbul Convention Action against violence against women and domestic violence as an integral part of your Constitution and for developing a unified database on domestic violence.
Also congratulations for appointing a Special Coordinator for Domestic Violence within the Ministry of Justice – another concrete step towards ending gender-based violence.
Baked further into the problem are pre-conceived stereotypes and judgments of women’s role in societies – which affects women’s participation in the peace-building process. Women are not seen as frontliners in the war – but more support systems in the background. Too often, women’s potential to more robustly contribute to the process remains underutilized. We can’t throw away talent – not when it could mean achieving reconciliation and harnessing hope.
So, with all of this in mind, it’s clear we have come a long way and we are on the right track. But we must maintain focus on putting women at the negotiating table. Let’s take #3StepsForward together.
Thank you. I wish you a successful Forum!
1 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
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