For the second year running, I moderated the Washington, DC blog breakfast for the baronessgoudie.com blog. This smart blog, founded by my friend and member of the British House of Lords Baroness Mary Goudie, raises issues of importance to women and girls around the world including the fight to stop human trafficking and to build a better and more stable future for women globally. A blog breakfast is a lot like a blog – spirited conversation, lots of questions and comments ricocheting around the room, and most importantly, a focus on how we can work together to make change. This year’s breakfast focused on the role of women in conflict resolution and peace building. Even as we all acknowledged the importance of women’s involvement at the peace table, the statistics are daunting:
- Fewer than 3% of signatories to peace agreements are women
- No women have been appointed Chief or Lead negotiator in UN sponsored peace talks
- Only peace agreements in 10 of 45 conflicts have addressed sexual violence.
Baroness Goudie talked about the critical role of the UN Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 1325, and the need of the UN and its member states to aggressively implement that resolution. She also highlighted the importance of women in key decision making positions, including Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Michele Bachelet, but also the need for women to be at the peace table to bring reality to the negotiations and to raise issues about what is important as conflicts are resolved.
From there, and for about an hour, the group of 75 women (and men) weighed in on the critical need for implementation of laws and peace accords; how to reframe the debate on trafficking; how to involve men in this movement; and the importance of women being part of the solution. I was particularly struck by Ronit Avni, the Executive Director of Just Vision and Producer of Budrus, who talked about not involving women in peace building and conflict resolution as a strategic liability.
There was so much spirited discussion, and so much more left to say. But like a blog, a blog breakfast is only a starting point for discussion. I am sure we will be having this conversation, and conversations like it, for a long time.