Women can give peace a chance, say envoys

Female diplomats and parliamentarians call for an active role for women in conflict resolution in the Black Sea Region and beyond

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the Women In Diplomacy Network joined forces with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women Peace and Security for a high-level panel discussion in Parliament on the role of women in efforts for peace in the Black Sea Region.

The event was the focal meeting of the six-month Presidency of HE Sophie Katsarava, the Ambassador of Georgia, whose country was the target of a Russian invasion and occupation in 2008. In her remarks, Ambassador Katsarava outlined Georgia’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security which to date has achieved tangible results, particularly in securing the right of Georgian children in occupied Abkhazia to education in their mother tongue.

Adding another Black Sea perspective was HE Laura Popescu, the Ambassador of Romania, who pointed out that a female perspective, combined with a skill set of empathy and trust plus the ability to access to all areas of society when intelligence gathering were vital in conflict resolution. This was especially important where issues of human trafficking and sexual violence were prevalent as has been witnessed during the war in Ukraine. Underlining the importance of education, Ambassador Popescu said women remained underrepresented in peace negotiations and called for the training of more female leaders in the sphere of security and defence.

Co-host Baroness Hodgson, who chairs the APPG for Women Peace and Security, said countries needed to do more than pay lip service to the Women Peace and Security agenda. The panel discussion coincided with the first reading in the House of Lords of her Private Members Bill on Women Peace and Security. “Signing resolutions is important, but having this in law is a must. This throws down a marker. There are no more excuses for not having women in peace delegations.”

Emeritus President of the Women In Diplomacy Network the High Commissioner of Namibia HE Linda Scott explained the origins of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, sponsored by Namibia, which had endured decades of conflict to win independence from apartheid South Africa. High Commissioner Scott outlined how the resolution sought to change the narrative of women in conflict from that of victimhood to active and vital participants in the peace process.

The discussion also heard a statement from Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon about UK initiatives on the WPS agenda, notably the upcoming world summit in November, to be hosted by the UK, on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The discussion, chaired by Emeritus President of the Women In Diplomacy Network the High Commissioner of The Maldives HE Farah Faizal, included wide-ranging perspectives from diplomats, parliamentarians and NGOs which focused on strategies to combat sexual violence in conflict, through better evidence gathering enhanced by the use of modern technology and more female investigators working closely with women on the ground.

Main photo: Female diplomats and parliamentarians meet in the House of Lords to for a high-level panel discussion on women, peace and security