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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: Women’s Voices at the Heart of Efforts for Peace – Focus on the Black Sea Region and East Europe

On 8th June the APPG on Women, Peace and Security (APPG WPS) hosted an event at the House of Lords in coordination with Embassy of Georgia and Women in Diplomacy Network London (WDN).  The event gave an opportunity to hear views on women, peace and security from some of the women Ambassadors with a special focus on the Black Sea Region and East Europe.

Flick Drummond MP opened the event and welcomed everyone to the Houses of Parliament. HE Sophie Katsarava MBE, Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, President of Women in Diplomacy London, also welcomed everyone on behalf of WDN and talked about how she had made WPS a focus for her Presidency.

HE High Commissioner of Maldives Dr. Farahanaz Faizal then took the chair.  Ben Mellor, Director of India & Indo Pacific Ocean Directorate at the FCDO, spoke first and sent good wishes from Lord Ahmad, Minister of Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations. He also talked about work ongoing to develop the fifth UK NAP on UN Security Council 1325 and other Government work on this agenda including the Network of Mediators that has been set up; work through the UK Ambassadors in post; and the November conference on PSVI.

He was followed by HE Linda Scott, High Commissioner of Nambia who spoke about how there were lots of women role models in the countries around the Black Sea. She then went on to talk about the role of Namibia in helping to get UN Security Council 1325 introduced in 2000 and how it was especially important to Namibia as they had had 25 years of war. Namibia has established a Women’s Centre for peace and there is much focus on ensuring that women have adequate representation at international events.  She finished by emphasising the importance of educating children to speak about humanity, peace and security.

HE Sophie Katsarava MBE, Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, then spoke. She condemned Russian aggression and explained how Georgia had previously been a victim of this and how two regions of Georgia are still occupied by Russia.  In 2011 Georgia implemented the WPS agenda and at the moment their 4th NAP for 2022-4 is being consulted on. She talked about how Georgia take commitment to this agenda very seriously as well as consulting civil society.  She highlighted the importance of women’s participation which can result in life changing situations and cited an example where women negotiators had managed to alter a Russian dictate in the occupied states to enable children to learn in the Georgian language, rather than Russian which was being imposed.

The final speaker was HE Daniela- Laura Popescu, Ambassador of Romania to the UK. She talked about the challenges to Europe’s peace and security and emphasised the need for women to design the world!  She pointed out that women often have more empathy which is a much-needed tool in a post conflict situation. She talked about excellent Romanian women role models and said that Romania now had 34% of women heads of diplomatic missions.

A Q&A session followed, with excellent participation including from the Ambassadors from South Sudan and Slovenia. The discussion started with H.E Linda Scott talking about how to go further beyond the UNSC resolution and how women can do so much more than fitting into slots in society. This was then followed by a question to the Ambassador of Georgia about languages being a barrier for women in Georgia, she emphasised how important education is. The next question was on how we put empathy on boys in a post-conflict setting.

Baroness Hodgson then asked all the speakers about what missions are going on in each country. Speakers discussed female involvement in their institutions saying the scale has shifted and women involvement is on the rise.

This was followed by a question from a member of the audience asking if the war in Ukraine has affected how we approach sexual violence. The speakers agreed this is a hard question to answer and the scale of Ukraine is devastating. It will only work if we can track down the perpetrators and educate, but it was also said that technology has enabled us to make records so there is a way for us to do something.

Baroness Hodgson closed the event by thanking the speakers and everyone for attending.

The event was very well attended including by a number of women Ambassadors as well as members of the diplomatic community in London.

*This meeting was not organised by GAPS.

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