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QCPS Organises Conference on "Enhancing Women's Role in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution"

28.05.2016

• 60 women leaders from 10 Arab countries discuss 'absence of the state', prevalence of radicalism, terrorism, and despotism as well as roadmap for tackling challenges facing women in armed conflict countries.
• Participants present their efforts to deal with radicalism, peacebuilding, humanitarian aid, and transitional justice.
Sixty women leaders from 10 Arab countries and the Kurdistan Region gathered in Beirut at a conference organised by Al Quds Centre for Political Studies (QCPS), and the Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity (KVINFO) to discuss means of "Enhancing Women's Role in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in the Arab Region" and to review national efforts to implement Security Council resolution 1325.
The participants held 60 sessions, during which Iraqi, Syrian, Yemeni, and Libyan women leaders gave presentations. They discussed women's role in countering radicalism setting public policies, as seen in the Jordanian and Egyptian cases; and women's efforts in peacebuilding and transitional justice, demonstrated in the Tunisian and Moroccan cases.
The conference discussed the so-called "compound marginalisation" of women belonging to religious and national minorities, highlighting the suffering of women, particularly in Syria and Iraq, from the brutality and violence committed by radical and terrorist groups.
The participants included parliamentarians, members of advisory councils, leaders of political parties, civil society activists, academics, and intellectuals from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Yemen and the Kurdistan Region.
They held in-depth discussions of major challenges facing women in armed conflict countries as well as states undergoing sectarian, religious, ideological divide.
The speakers highlighted their initiatives and efforts in mediation, national dialogue, conflict resolution, fighting polarisation, radicalism, and despotism, and providing humanitarian aid to refugees and the displaced, especially women and children.
They made recommendations and proposed initiatives aimed at boosting women's peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts in the region, agreeing that challenges for women and their impact vary from one country or society to another.
A majority of working papers and discussions focused on four key problems:
1. Patriarchy and male dominance, which still affect women, and are clearly reflected in discrimination against women in many areas, include constitutions, laws and policies.
2. "Absence of the state" and erosion of its institutions in many armed conflict countries --which strengthen militant groups committing all sorts of violence, under religion or tribal pretext, and increase the suffering of women.
3. Prevalence of radicalism, extremism, and violence in many Arab countries, where freedoms, rights, and dignity are unprotected. Extremist groups have succeeded in radicalising and recruiting women in poor-stricken areas to promote obscurantism and commit acts of terrorism.
4. Despotism in the Arab world, where freedoms, rights, reform, and democratisation are in jeopardy, and where activists, particularly women, are persecuted.
The conference made a set of recommendations, including:
̶ Promoting civil, democratic, and citizenship principles and rights without discrimination, particularly against women, in accordance with the constitution and rule of law that protect women's rights and emphasise their roles.
̶ Constitutionalising women's citizenship rights without discrimination, and reforming laws depriving women of their rights.
̶ Supporting women's participation and engagement in all fields and at all levels based on equality, and adopting a "quota" system as a "transitional measure" to enhance women's political participation in political parties, parliaments, local governance councils, the executive power, national dialogue panels, mediation and negotiation committees, transitional justice bodies, civil society organisations, trade unions and business associations. This will enable women to become partners and stand on equal footing with men to create peace and protect freedoms and democracy.
̶ Improving women's economic status through integration into the labour market and business sector, focusing on women in rural areas and poverty pockets. Economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for their political empowerment in the face of radical group exploiting poverty and ignorance of some women.
̶ Reforming education processes and systems is a must for producing generations with critical thinking skills who are open to other cultures, philosophies, arts, and human sciences. Human rights and legal education should be integrated into the education system. Special attention should turn to literacy efforts to educate women in rural and remote areas.
̶ Ensuring separation of religion and politics. Religious establishments, such as mosques, churches, and other worship venues, should not interfere with political parties. Religious discourse should be developed, modernised, and reformed, while at the same time combating hatred, violence, and extremism, and promoting dialogue, coexistence, and pluralism.
̶ Controlling media outlets that promote hatred, radicalism, religious divide, and sedition. The role of media is to encourage dialogue, coexistence, and pluralism.
̶ Building national, regional, and international coalitions in order to help implement Security Council resolution 1325 as well as pertinent national action plans.
̶ Launch major public awareness campaigns to renounce and fight violence against females as well as stereotypes, the so-called "honour crimes", and child, forced, and temporary marriages.
̶ Press regional governments that are not party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to sign and endorse the treaty, which established the tribunal.
The conference also recommended:
̶ Exerting all possible efforts to free women kidnapped or taken hostage by parties to regional conflicts, particularly terrorist and militant groups. Special attention should turn to female Yazidi and Christian captives, who should be protected and hospitalised, physically and psychologically.
̶ Releasing from Israeli and Arab jails Palestinian and other women, particularly political prisoners. Also, fate of missing women should be revealed.
̶ Protecting women and children, particularly those belonging to minorities, from military operations, excessive use of force by the security forces and armed groups, as well as liquidation and displacement.
̶ Concentrating relief efforts of humanitarian aid organisation on displaced and refugee women, whose all basic needs should be fulfilled, ensuring their engagement in managing refugee camp affairs and addressing cases of sexual harassment, violence, and human trafficking.
̶ Equipping judicial and security officials to deal with female victims of sexual violence and human trafficking, and prevent offenders and criminals from escaping justice.
̶ Securing the safe return and protection of displaced and refugee women to their homeland and helping them join reconstruction efforts in conflict-stricken areas by adopting long-term women's empowerment strategies.
̶ Organising internationally-funded local and regional solidarity campaigns to support and protect female human rights advocates facing threats and violence.
̶ Empower women to ensure their political participation and engagement in decision making, negotiations, conflict resolution, and national reconciliation, as well as efforts to promote peace and tolerance.
̶ Approving and implementing national action plans on Security Council resolution 1325.
̶ Enhancing the role of civil society organisations in monitoring and documenting violations as well as in providing legal, psychological, and social services to victims of sexual violence.