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What We Do

Network Mission and Goals

Sustainable peace requires the full participation of women at all stages of the conflict transformation process-yet they have been largely excluded from efforts to develop or implement fresh, workable solutions to seemingly intractable struggles. Women Waging Peace brings together women from diverse areas of conflict around the world to share peace-building strategies, sharpen skills, and shape public policy. Over the past three years, the network's mission has been honed and focused to:

  • identify examples of women peace builders around the globe;
  • support the work of those women through a Web-based network, connecting them to a wide universe of resources, including each other's strategic expertise;
  • produce a substantial and analytical body of information about women's contributions to peace processes that makes a more compelling case for the inclusion of women and gender perspectives in peace processes; and
  • use the resulting body of research to encourage policymakers to redesign the public policy paradigm and support the innovative efforts of women promoting regional stability.

Women bring a unique perspective to formal and informal peace processes. Their involvement in conflict prevention, stopping war, and the stabilization of regions impacted by warfare is essential for many reasons:

Women are adept at bridging ethnic, religious, political, and cultural divides. Social science research supports the impression of women as generally more collaborative than men and thus more inclined toward consensus and compromise. Women often use their role as mothers to cut across international borders and internal divides. Every effort to bridge divides, even if initially unsuccessful, has value, both in lessons learned and establishment of connections to be built on later.

  • In several instances during the Northern Irish talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement, male negotiators walked out of negotiation sessions, leaving a small number of women, like Monica McWilliams, at the table. These women focused on mutual concerns and shared vision, enabling the dialogue to continue and trust to be rekindled.
  • In spite of ongoing violence in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian women continue to collaborate for a solution. The Israeli women's organization Bat Shalom and the Palestinian Jerusalem Center for Women work together from both sides of the conflict to affect public opinion and convey a joint vision for a just peace.

"For generations, women have served as peace educators, both in their families and in their societies. They have proved instrumental in building bridges rather than walls."
- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Women have their fingers on the pulse of the community. Living and working close to the roots of conflict, they are well positioned to provide essential information about activities leading up to armed conflict and record events during war, including gathering evidence at scenes of atrocities. Women also play a critical role in mobilizing their communities to begin the process of reconciliation and rebuilding once hostilities end.

  • In Sudan, women organized the Wunlit tribal summit to bring an end to hostilities between the Dinka and Nuer peoples. The resulting covenant guaranteed peace between the tribes, who agreed to share rights to water, fishing, and grazing land, which had been key points of disagreement.
  • In Kosovo, Vjosa Dobruna collected evidence from victims at sites of massacres and other atrocities, and was targeted by Serb special police as a result. She later became one of only three women appointed to the UN's Joint Interim Administrative Structure of Kosovo, as the minister responsible for democracy building and civil society.

"The official political echelons seem to get bogged down in the old historical issues. The women in the community feel that their housing, education, and childcare are the important things."
- Helen Jackson, Labour Member of Parliament

for Sheffield, United Kingdom

Women are community leaders, with and without formal authority. Women have both a right and a responsibility to be an integral part of the peace process. They frequently outnumber men, particularly after a conflict, and they often drive the on-the-ground implementation of any peace agreement. Women are often at the center of non-governmental organizations, popular protests, electoral referendums, and other citizen-empowering movements whose influence has grown with the global spread of democracy.

  • Marta Segura, Executive Director of the Colombian Confederation of Non-Governmental Organizations, has represented the NGO community in peace talks, most significantly as a promoter of the Programmatic Agreement for Peace, signed by the 1200 members of the Confederation, international agencies, and the government.
  • As the Minister of Gender and Social Affairs in Rwanda, Aloisea Inyumba created programs that promoted coexistence, reconciliation, and peace after the genocide of 1994; she also served as Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda, which organizes and oversees national public debates promoting reconciliation between Hutus and Tutsis, and she currently serves as governor of the Kigali-Ngali province.
  • Nanda Pok is leading efforts to promote women's participation in the political process as Cambodia recovers from the killing fields of Pol Pot. Her organization, Women for Prosperity, has trained over 5,000 women to hold political office, including 64 percent of the women elected to local Commune Councils in February 2002.

"After the genocide, women rolled up their sleeves and began making society work again."
- Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

Women are highly invested in preventing, stopping, and recovering from conflict. Women are motivated to protect their children and ensure security for their families. They watch as their sons and husbands are taken as combatants or prisoners of war; many do not return, leaving women to care for the remaining children and elderly populations. They themselves are often targeted, for example, when rape is used as a tactic of war to humiliate the enemy and terrorize the population. Despite-of because of-the harsh experiences of so many who survive violent conflict, women generally refuse to give up the pursuit of peace.

  • At the Union of Committees of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, Ida Kuklina demands military reform based on the establishment of professional military service for soldiers rather than involuntary conscription. This powerful NGO defends the human rights of soldiers, confronting Russian judges, generals, and presidents with the deaths of 3,000-5,000 soldiers who perished not because of war, but because of abuse by their commanders and peers during peacetime.
  • Visaka Dharmadasa, co-founder of Parents of Servicemen Missing-In-Action, lobbied her government to reciprocate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) releasing of soldiers and civilians, resulting in the release of ten LTTE suspects. She created a support network for women from each side of the conflict to share their grievances, stories, and strategies.

"If we'd had women around the table, there would have been no war; women think long and hard before they send their children out to kill other people's children."
- Haris Silajdzic, former Bosnian Prime Minister

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