Press Release: UN Women and Germany support women’s contributions to peace in MENA
To take stock of their joint efforts to support women’s contributions to the MENA region’s peace and security, UN Women, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) brought together women peacebuilders, activists and negotiators in Amman on 29 June to showcase their achievements, discuss challenges and chart a path towards inclusive and lasting peace.
Amman - The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to many protracted conflicts that have taken a terrible human toll, particularly on women and girls. Efforts to end the region’s conflicts have largely stalled. Since the passing of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), there has been mounting evidence that women’s participation is essential to achieve lasting peace that goes beyond silencing guns to create peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies. Yet, women remain largely shut out of formal peace efforts.
To move negotiations forward, policy actors are increasingly calling for new approaches to conflict resolution and inclusive peace processes. Their calls have grown more urgent since the COVID-19 outbreak, which brought into sharp relief the criticality of the WPS agenda as a lens to understand and respond to peace and conflict dynamics.
“Women’s participation in peace processes is not only about ensuring that women’s needs, concerns and aspirations are on the agenda, but it can also help shift negotiation dynamics and broaden the issues under discussion,” says Susanne Mikhail, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States. “This helps address the root causes of conflict and build community support and acceptance of the peace process and its outcome.”
To tap into women’s skills and potential in shaping pathways to peace, UN Women has been implementing a regional project “Enhancing Women’s Leadership for Sustainable Peace in Fragile Contexts in the Middle East and North Africa Region” together with GIZ and with generous support from BMZ. Starting in 2016, the project has supported women in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen to participate meaningfully in peace and transition processes across all phases. To achieve this, UN Women has worked to strengthen the capacity and technical expertise of peace process actors through strategic and needs-based advice and training. It also enhanced its strategic dialogue and partnerships with global, regional and national policy institutions and actors, alongside targeted support in linking civil society peace efforts to formal negotiations for increased inclusivity. UN Women has also strengthened its partnership with the League of Arab States to enhance women’s role in peace processes and negotiations across the Arab region, resulting in the establishment of the region’s first Arab Women Mediators Network. Since 2021, the programme has expanded to support Afghan women to mobilize for a peaceful and prosperous future for their country.
With Germany’s generous support, UN Women has also taken its knowledge generation forward, partnering with renowned think-tanks and academia to produce cutting-edge research, localize the WPS agenda in the Arab region and document women’s myriad contributions to peace and security. In this regard, the regional gathering provided an opportunity for UN Women to launch its new report “Women's Participation in Local Mediation: Lessons from Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen.” Drawing on various case studies from the four conflict-affected countries, the report demonstrates how women have mediated ceasefires and a halt to violations against civilians, brokered the release of political prisoners, prevented and resolved tribal conflicts and engaged in cross-line negotiations to secure access to water and other vital resources.
To build on the project’s achievements, UN Women, BMZ and GIZ organized the outreach event “Strengthening Women’s Participation and Influence in Peace Processes in the MENA Region” on 29 June 2022 in Amman, Jordan, which brought together more than 70 women peace activists, women’s rights defenders, peace practitioners, and negotiators from the four focus countries with senior diplomatic actors, to share their experiences and take stock of challenges facing women’s participation in peace and security as well as opportunities to enhance women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes.
“Across the world, and particularly in this region, women have long been performing crucial work to advance peace and security. Yet their instrumental efforts often go unnoticed” says Florian Lewerenz, Senior Policy Officer in the Middle East Division of BMZ. “That is why Germany has been working with partners in the MENA region, including UN Women, to build the evidence base around women’s peacebuilding skills and potential and help them overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of their contribution to inclusive and lasting peace. By doing so, we contribute to improving rights, resources and representation of women in conflict settings, thus putting into practice our recently announced feminist development policy.”
“The multiple crises facing the world, including in the Arab States, urgently require women’s participation and gender-responsive solutions: meaningful participation of women will contribute to solving the conflicts and sustaining peace,” says Paivi Kannisto, UN Women’s Chief of Peace and Security. “It is our hope that this event will help provoke thinking, demonstrate support, and spur energy and ideas that contribute to advancing the influence of women peace activists and practitioners in peace negotiations in practical ways.”
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