In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Embassy of Norway and the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) convened a panel discussion, New Decade, New Promise: Call to Action to Stand with Women Peacebuilders, on March 11th at the Ambassador’s residence. Ambassador Kåre R. Aas from Norway welcomed the guests and recognized the work and risks of women peacebuilders. He observed that since women are front and center in war zones, they should also participate as independent representatives in peace negotiations. Norway is committed to stand with women peacebuilders.
ICAN’s founder and CEO, Sanam Anderlini, framed the discussion by introducing our call to action to give our alliance of women peacebuilders the recognition and protection that they deserve. She Builds Peace is a collaborative campaign and a global call to action to stand with women peacebuilders. Our goal is to ensure that women peacebuilders are safe and protected, that governments fulfill their obligations to include them in peace and security decision making, and that women peacebuilders are appreciated and resourced to continue their critical work. She described the four campaign pillars of safety, obligation, appreciation, and resources, the story of the logo, and debuted a video introduction to the campaign.
Ms. Anderlini moderated a panel discussion with Ms. Rajaa Altalli, co-founder and co-director of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy (CCSD), and Ms. Hassina Neekzad, Founder and Director of the Afghan Women’s Organization for Equality. Ms. Altalli shared that she didn’t realize when she started documenting human rights’ violations that her work also involved peacebuilding. CCSD has worked with other women’s organizations since 2013 to mobilize for women’s inclusion in the Syrian peace talks. “Women ensure that human rights and protection are part of the conversation…direct participation matters,” she stated. Ms. Altalli also emphasized that it’s important to recognize women’s peacebuilding work on the ground to engage with security forces and call for a ceasefire.
Women ensure that human rights and protection are part of the conversation…direct participation matters.
– Rajaa Altalli
Ms Neekzad has worked extensively with men in Afghanistan, as she commented, “if men are part of the problem, they can be part of the solution.” Her work has influenced how mullahs and community leaders engage with local communities. She also expressed concern that the recent US-Taliban agreement does not mention or ensure human rights. Ms. Neekzad made clear recommendations asking the international community to reduce the current political tension in Afghanistan, to influence the government of Pakistan to encourage the Taliban to abide by the agreement, and to help the people of Afghanistan form a strong independent delegation for the intra-Afghan dialogue. “It’s important for Afghan women and government to establish democracy in Afghanistan but we will fail without the support of the international community.”
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