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oD 50.50 Editorial highlights 2016

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Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

The third international gathering of the Nobel Women’s Initiative is entitled Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. It brings together women peace activists and scholars from around the world. openDemocracy 5050 has been exploring the major themes of these biennial conferences since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy's own authors. This year Jessica Horn and Jenny Morgan are reporting for openDemocracy.

With thanks to our funders, The Barrow Cadbury Trust and the New Field Foundation.


Every act of violence is a choice

“Sometimes we need to name the abnormal as abnormal, and take action to defend what is normal!” - Shereen Essof. Jessica Horn reports at the close of the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, 'Women Forging a New Security: ending sexual violence in conflict'

GenderForce: why didn't we do this before?

"As an 18 year old woman I wanted to join what I saw as the coolest and toughest force - not the Air Force, not the Navy, but the Army. I was the first woman to join, and arrived full of ideas of what life would be like as a woman in the army. Things were not as I had imagined at all...."

Crime not shame: challenging the ideology of rape

Decades of feminist activism against rape has produced a world that now, formally, officially, and legally, at least talks the talk on sexual violence in conflict. Feminists have not yet been able to transform what Susan Brownmiller called the ‘ideology of rape’, but they’re working on it. 

Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life

Working with ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor's army, and the girls they have taken as wives, has convinced Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee that the abuse women suffer during conflict is a reflection of the interaction between men and women, boys and girls, during peace time.

Peace can be planned. Just like health

"Violence can be prevented. This is not an article of faith, but a statement based on evidence" (WHO 2002). Scilla Elworthy calls for a strategy based on the clear evidence of what is working in scattered pockets around the world, with the creation of 'Infrastructures for Peace' at its core.

"Mighty be our powers": peaceful women and the global south

“We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context. Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy.” Thorbjoern Jagland, chair of the Nobel Prize Committee

Peace of mind

If some of us had hoped to walk away with a global plan of action rather than a series of personal commitments stuck up on a board, well, we just may have forgotten that it's personal commitment that makes brave women stand up every day - Jenny Morgan reports from the closing session of the Nobel Women's Initiative conference

Rape in war: ending impunity

Women Peace Laureates urge leaders to protect women in armed conflict, citing evidence from a new report.

Ken Clarke, Strauss-Kahn, Yale and SlutWalks: rape, consent and agency

In recent weeks, one word has dominated the headlines: rape. The events worldwide have shown how rape remains in the bloodstream of our culture, while our language on the crime is distorting and debased

Landmines data. Rape data

How many rapes are too many in war? Of course, one violent sexual attack on a woman is one too many. A single incident could be a war crime....

If this is 'peace', when does it start for women?

'The word "reconciliation" hurts me', Bakira Hasecic says. 'All I want is for those who have hurt me to be brought to justice.'

In touch with the world

Afghan MP Shinkai Karokhail talks about the importance of women making international connections and sharing their experiences. (Video)

Not the Only Survivor in the Village

Survivors of gender based violence and their supporters can deliver powerful messages for peace, reflects Betsy Kawamura.

The security sector: an awkward space for engagement

Alongside powerful arguments against militarism, we are hearing an increasingly significant voice from within the security sector, including women in uniform, working on ways to improve the security sector’s own understanding and response to issues of women’s rights and security. Jessica Horn reports on the debates at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference.

Perpetuation and perpetration: the momentum of violence

So many armed men began their lives as victims of loss and grief. So many have gone on to become the source of bereavement for others. Trying to understand how soldiers make this transformation is crucial to understanding how violence is perpetrated in conflict. Jocelyn Kelly writes from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference

Peace negotiations: did you carry a gun?

'If sons are fighting, doesn't it make sense for their mother to help make peace?' Jenny Morgan reports on conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference

Horror and hope meet hand in hand

Blogging from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, Laura Carlsen sees the strength in the women gathered there and voices a collective hope about meeting the challenge of ending sexual violence in conflict.

Making the impossible possible

Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams talk about strategies for change, drawing on their experiences of working for human rights reforms in Iran and of campaigning to ban landmines. (Video)

Hopes and expectations: ending sexual violence in conflict

The Nobel Peace laureates, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire, open the third international conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative: Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. (Video)

Jessica Horn discusses militarism

Jessica Horn, writer, women’s rights consultant and openDemocracy 50.50 blogger, discusses her thoughts on different approaches to militarism at the Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict conference. (Video)

The pragmatism of hope

Hope may be a rare word in the discourse of realpolitik that frames much official discussion on conflict and security today. It is certainly not counted amongst the quantifiable resources in security or peacebuilding budgets. And yet it is a word that I have heard consistently over the past two days of the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference.....

Professor Wangari Maathai speaks

Professor Maathai, noted activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, presents her message to the third international Nobel Women's Initiative gathering, focusing on ending sexual violence in conflict. (Video)

No rubber stamping here

Anyone who's never been to a big feminist conference doesn't know what they're missing. It's not just the jokes that are constantly flying around the room; it's not just the fact that making space for women to tell their stories is in the DNA of such events

We must not make war safe for women

"We can not pluck rape out of war and let the war go on. We must not make war safe for women. It is time to abolish war," - Cora Weiss on the Nobel Women's Initiative conference on ending sexual violence in conflict

Prevention is the cure

“There is a reason that international institutions have been so slow to move on this agenda - it is because impunity begins at home!”- Joanne Sandler, deputy director, UN Women. Jessica Horn reports from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference on ending sexual violence against women.

'Wounded warriors': sexual assault in the US military

Sexual violence in the US military is massively under-reported -- when the US Airforce commissioned Gallup to do a poll, one in five serving women said they had been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, and one in twenty men; but very few had formally reported the attacks to their commanding officer - Jenny Morgan reports from the Nobel Women's Conference in Quebec

Aung San Suu Kyi on sexual violence in conflict

Nobel Peace Laureate and honorary member of the Nobel Women's Initiative, Aung San Suu Kyi, sends her support to the 120 women gathering for the Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict conference. (Video)

The mass crime of rape: ending impunity

A group of us gasped when one tiny mother of five, who looked no older than my 20-year old daughter, lamented, “When I think about my life here, I often feel I’d rather be back in the bush with the Lord’s Resistance Army, at least there I had a community". While we are making some progress in fitful efforts at prosecution, we are failing victims of rape miserably, reports Susannah Sirkin.

Wounded warriors: sexual assault

The phenomenon of sexual violence in the US military is massively under-reported -- when the US Airforce commissioned Gallup to do a poll, one in five serving women said they had been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, and one in twenty men; but very few had formally reported the attacks to their commanding officer - Jenny Morgan reports from the Nobel Women's Conference in Quebec

Breaking the conspiracy of silence

"I was 12 years old.....my anguish ended when my family left Okinawa after this man had paid me $5 during our last encounter for my ‘services’," Betsy Kawamura

Sudanese women demand justice

The systematic use of sexual violence along with torture, cruel and degrading treatment – such as the common use of flogging - continue to be one of the major security threats and tools of repression targeting women and communities all over Sudan. Amel Gorani reports on those who are daring to speak out

Who do they think they are? War rapists as people

War is social, and examining soldier identity and male bonding may give us insight into how the incidence of sexual violence in war might be reduced, says Cynthia Cockburn

Sexual violence: the healing imperative

How far do our post-conflict reconstruction efforts go when it comes to addressing the trauma and loss that women and girls experience during conflict? Jessica Horn reports ahead of the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference on ending sexual violence in conflict

Sexual violence and war: inevitable?

A key reason for the seeming ubiquity of sexual violence in war is not its inevitability, but the impunity associated with it, says Maria Neophytou

My right, my responsibility

Nairobi Women's Hospital treated more than 300 women who had been gang raped in the aftermath of the contested Presidential election. Speaking from personal experience, Wangu Kanja reports on the challenges these women now face

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