On Wednesday 22nd March 2023, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) hosted an event titled “Women in Peace Processes”. The event was chaired by Baroness Hodgson, co-chair of the APPG -WPS, and discussed women’s meaningful participation in peace-building, with special focus of the work of women in Colombia, Libya and Yemen. As the journey towards peace continues, the event highlighted the need for countries to ensure representation of women political leaders in power, from a diverse range of backgrounds, skills and marginalised groups.
The event heard from:
- Marwa Baabbad, Director of the Yemen Policy Center
- Louise Winstanley, Programme and Advocacy Manager of ABColombia
- Asma Khalifa, Co-founder of The Khalifa Ihler Institute and Libyan activist and researcher
Marwa Baabbad began the event by discussing the challenges women face in Yemen, on the ground, in contributing to peace negotiations. She highlights the lack of access for women and grass-root organisations in peace processes. Despite the increasing challenges and shrinking spaces for women in peace negotiations, Marwa draws attention to the advocacy work being led by women civil society and Yemeni diaspora activists to influence and intervene in conflict for peace.
Louise Winstanley followed and discussed the important role of women-led civil society in peace processes and women’s role historically in the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Colombia. Louise highlights key strategies women took in peace negotiations including working with political actors, developing common agendas and advocating for gender perspectives.
Last we heard from Libyan activist Asma Khalifa. Asma Khalifa speaks on the context in Libya including damaged infrastructure, weakened public institutions and no political participation for women and youth. Asma also shares the disconnect between international processes and the realities on the ground, as she puts clearly, there is a difference between peace processes and power-sharing agreements as well as between peace processes and ceasefires.
The event ended with questions from the audience on what decision makers and the international community can do to support women participating in crucial peace processes. Recommendations that came out of the discussion from speakers included; challenging our own biases, mainstreaming women’s participation in peace-building and peace negotiation, treating women as experts, providing core and flexible funding for women’s rights organisations and women’s led organisations who are working at the grassroot level and removing international non-profit organisations as the interlocutors.
Baroness Hodgson provided closing remarks, concluded the event and thanked the speakers.
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