Libya: "Rejoicing at our bloody democracy"

For sustainable peace, the UN must refuse to sanction militarism as the default response to unwanted migration and invest in grassroots women and youth human rights defenders. - free thinking for the world
IOM and Red Crescent refugee camp in Benghazi.

Libya: "Rejoicing at our bloody democracy"

For sustainable peace, the UN must refuse to sanction militarism as the default response to unwanted migration and invest in grassroots women and youth human rights defenders. - free thinking for the world
IOM and Red Crescent refugee camp in Benghazi.

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The world's widow - Nepal

(part of openDemocracy's '16 days against gender violence' blog series)

By Hyshyama Hamin

Nepal is a patriarchal society: women are discriminated against from birth, in the family and right up to the state level. The scenario worsens for Nepali women if they are widowed. A widow is seen as a curse befallen on her family. For the rest of her life she is identified as an inauspicious omen, and the cause of the death of her husband. Religious and traditional practices enacted on widows harm her physical health and mental state, aggravating her suffering and lowering her status in society.

These practices include set rituals, such as the removal of all jewelry from her body, dressing in only white clothes, and eating meals prepared without salt or spices. She is not allowed to be touched, doing so is considered “impure”, and because a widow cannot remarry, she is at the mercy of male members of her family. She no longer accepted by her in-laws, nor is she welcome back home. Many widows have been traumatized by family members most nearest to them.

Widowed women and their dependants usually fall under the category of the most marginalised, poorest of the poor, invisible, their voices unheard and their needs, immediate and long-term, unmet. They are denied access to nutrition, health resources, and social security, and their movements are restricted. In Nepal, like in most developing countries, poverty has a female face.

This is what drives the work of Women for Human Rights (WHR), founded in 1994 to address the rights of single women in Nepal, which gives widows opportunities include ng access to skills and vocational training to enable them to support themselves independently; micro-credit schemes; and funds for personal and child study scholarships. We have also succeeded in changing many discriminatory laws relating to, among other things, property rights ownership, and the acquisition of passports without male consent. Our most successful movement has been the Red Movement Campaign which freed widows in Nepalese society from wearing the color white for the rest of their lives, with the slogan that “Color is our birthright”. There was a huge backlash to this campaign from the conservative members of society, but it still succeeded in emancipating widows across the country.

Although there have been social and legal advances, discrimination is still widespread in Nepal, and is at its most severe in the rural areas. Some of the stories and issues are heartbreaking.Widows are amongst the worst affected victims of conflict and societal practices in Nepal. We believe that by strengthening widows, we strengthen women, and by strengthening women, we strengthen families, and societies, and in our humble way we in fact strengthen the world.

Take back the tech!

By Jessica Reed

The private is made public thanks to Take Back the Tech! (official site here), an online initiative which helps spreading the word about the 16 Days against gender violence campaign. Blogs are largely used not only as strong community builders; they also help strengthen networks which seek to inform women about their rights via digital means.

As a feminist blogger, I see the blogosphere as an incredible tool to keep both activists and writers up to date on a year-round basis: virtual communities often provides readers extremely valuable advice and feedback, sometimes even acting as a support group while blog collectives are especially helpful for girls, women (and even men) who want to connect and explore feminist issues and their own lives in context thanks to writing and discussion.

Here are some Take Back the Tech! participants that I think are worth pointing out:

  • Hundreds of women made private public by testifying about street sexual harassment in the "Blank Noise Project Blogathon" in India.
  • In New Mexico, USA, the "Domestic Violence Virtual Trial" helps judges and court staff learn about issues and challenges in VAW cases, and compare rulings with colleagues.
  • Paroles de Femmes/Womyn's voices is a website dedicated to help women to use technology in the name of equality
  • Last but not least: ka-BLOG! is a 16-day blog fest for the Take Back the Tech Campaign. It is open to anyone and everyone - girls, boys, everyone beyond and more — who wants to share their thoughts.

Human Rights in Afghanistan

(part of openDemocracy's '16 days against gender violence' blog series)

"Woman: with one hand she rocks the cradle, and with the other hand she rocks the world."

An old Afghan man shared this saying with me. He said it is not used often these days. I found it poignant and powerful.

I have been running programs for women in Afghanistan for four years, an experience I feel privileged to have had. It has made me realise how rare it is to take the time to listen to people's views on the changes happening in their country and in their lives. My conversations with many Afghan men and women during this time have led to surprisingly similar conclusions. They want to be directing the course of change themselves. They are feeling increasingly pushed and pressured into what we might call "modernity", without being allowed the time or the opportunity to find the local roots to seemingly-imported and imposed ideas. Human rights, gender equality, democracy: these concepts already exist in Afghanistan. They do not need to be taught or imported. Aggressive approaches to reform appear patronizing – and will be resisted.

I've recently left the country, and I am saddened by the deteriorating situation and by the disillusion that people feel. It did not have to be this way. It was possible to actually listen (rather than talking about how much we listen!) and to root our understandings within the Afghan experience.

If we listened, we would find that there are indigenous roots to concepts like human rights. We might see that the symbols and stereotypes we bring to Afghanistan breed misconceptions that work against mutual understanding.

How Nigera betrays its women

(part of openDemocracy's '16 days against gender violence' blog series)

by Alexis Hood

Rape is rife in Nigeria, but the Nigerian government has turned a blind eye to the problem, says a report just out by Amnesty International. This is outrageous. Because rape in Nigeria is not a secretive affair. Far from it. It is inflicted on women by state actors, in other words, members of the police and security forces. Women are being raped in their homes and communities, in police custody, and when they visit male relatives in custody. The police use rape to punish, to extract confessions, to put pressure on family members, to intimidate and to humiliate.

It is estimated that around 60% of violence against women is committed in army barracks or police stations. The Nigerian government should be ashamed of this statistic.

Rape is especially widespread in the Niger Delta, where ongoing violence has left civilians at the mercy of the police, the army, and local militant leaders. Women's bodies are part of the terrain of conflict. As in so many wars, rape in the Niger Delta is used as a terror tactic, a systematic weapon of war. Nigeria's security forces are raping women as a counter-insurgency strategy, and to coerce entire communities, they are even keeping women in barracks as sex slaves.

Radio Fiji - Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

(part of openDemocracy's '16 days against gender violence' blog series)

by Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

I am honoured to be asked to share a reflection from Fiji and the Pacific Island region, particularly because Fijian women have often felt that our region sometimes gets lost within a rapidly evolving women’s movement, despite advances in global technology. I welcome the opportunity to open communication channels - not just through women’s media initiatives like my own, femLINKpacific, but also through valuable spaces in mainstream media.

The reality for so many women in our villages and rural settlements is that they remain invisible because they don’t have the space - in formal meetings and foras - to say what they think or feel. They remain deeply disempowered and ashamed even to break their own silence, because they are veiled by a society that purports to know what women feel and want. In 2006, we continue to face a conflux of values which means a woman often remains isolated because the violence she is facing is in her home.

This year, I salute the brave leaders of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre - who first took a stand more than twenty years ago. The centre has a new building which stands tall in the heart of Suva’s business area, a symbol of dedication and countless unpaid volunteer hours, and of how, with focused advocacy and action and management, women’s organisations can grow, and attract financial support – and that women also can build and manage buildings! It is testament to Shamima Ali’s long perseverance in challenging the status quo, of her unwillingness to back down from drawing people out of their comfort zones to admit that we live in a violent society.

I also welcome efforts by religious leaders and initiatives: “The Church and violence against women”, a recent publication from the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (SPATS), contributes to breaking the taboo of silence. At the book’s launch, the Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, suggested it would have far-reaching effects, and highlighted biblical aspects of human rights: “religious elders of all persuasions are often human rights’ most trenchant critics but they should find the human rights paradigm immensely valuable, because the basis of human rights, as well as all religions, is indeed the same, that is, justice and fairness.”

A key challenge I face is to ensure that, in working for justice for women and their families, the “victim” mentality is not perpetuated, excluding us from the long term formal process of reconstruction and transformation (notwithstanding the need for security reform).

South Africa - a silent civil war

(part of our 16 days against gender violence blog series)

by Kemi Ogunsanya

The increasing violence against women and children experienced in South Africa has been characterised as a ‘low intensity civil war’ in some quarters. As South Africa lights the torch in Tshwane to end violence against women – including the wide-spread domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape that expose women to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS - the flames of remembrance become significant. Research shows that most women are violated by people they know, carrying the problem of deep-seated cultural stigma - the reporting of such acts of violence is seen as betrayal. This makes it particularly hard to expose such atrocities.

The good news is that the South African Bill of Rights and national laws have enshrined the rights of women to live free of violence, including sexual violence. Parliament is currently reviewing its rape laws to ensure women and girls are able to report all incidents of rape without fear of reprisal. The police and other security personnel are being trained on gender-based violence and how to improve the reporting of such acts, taking cognizance of the victim beyond cultural prejudices and stereotypes. More women have been recruited into the police force, intensifying the acknowledgment of the situation in the country. Government has provided anti-retroviral drugs to rape victims, reported within the 72 hours incubation period of the HIV virus. The media has been castigated on its reports of sexual violence, found to be over-sensationalised, particularly during the Jacob Zuma rape trial. Stiff penalties are now envisaged if acts of sexual violence are not duly reported or when perpetrators are dealt with lightly.

Sixteen days against gender violence?

By Sarah Lindon

Sixteen days may, in the near-manic world of politics and media, seem a long time to expect people’s attention to one topic, but given the scale of the issue in hand, it is a relatively small demand – one we wish to make. “Sixteen days of activism against gender violence” is a global campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence, a phenomenon that affects as many as one in three women and is much more wide-ranging than its generic label might suggest - in fact, the UN Population Fund lists sixteen kinds of gender-based violence, one for each day of the campaign.

We decided to ask women activists and writers who took part in our “Women making a difference” blog to give us some direct insight into this problem as they see it in their work in different parts of the world. During the 16 days from 25 November to 10 December (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and International Human Rights Day, respectively) oDToday will bring you their stories and reflections.

America's election: Daddy's swagger vs Mommy's care

The mid-term political earthquake in the United States was a vote against a macho politics of fear, says Ruth Rosen.

The world will long wonder what took the American people so long to realise that George W Bush, the swaggering, macho, faux rancher from Texas, was an incompetent and dangerous man who threatened the democratic foundations and moral credibility of the United States.

The answer, I believe, can be summed up in one word: fear.

Soldiers without guns

An encounter with trained United Nations peacekeepers in Mali convinces Patricia Daniel that there is another way of being male.

South Dakota, sexual politics, and the American elections

This is an "only in America" story that takes place in the small, conservative state of South Dakota. A few months ago, the national media were obsessed with this state's effort to ban all abortions. Recently, the story has faded, eclipsed by other electoral news, most notably the sharply worsening situation in Iraq and domestic scandals. But the effort to forbid all abortions is far from an insignificant matter.

Africa: ask the women

To address Africa's deep-rooted problems, it's time to reject the superficial male charisma embodied by the likes of Tony Blair and Bob Geldof and instead mobilise the dynamic energies of African and Africa-engaged women, says Patricia Daniel.

A different shade of red in Nepal

Events are moving so fast in Nepal that Lily Thapa decided to leave London early. With a Code of Conduct being drawn up between the new government coalition and the Maoist insurgents, as she says, "If they need me and my experience, I will be there!" So far the Maoist negotiators have one woman on their team: the government, none. She is not convinced this will change.

Fighting Iraq's new Taliban

Since the first two years following the invasion of Iraq, when many women attained positions of political power and recognition, Iraqi women have seen a dramatic reversal in their fortunes. For a recent high-level international conference at Wilton Park on women's participation in peace-building and decision-making, Iraq is a crucial case where United Nations Resolution 1325 should be making a difference to women's involvement in security and politics. But Hanaa Edwar Busha, one of the founders of the Iraqi Women's Network (IWN), describes a constant struggle on the ground, from obstruction at the highest political levels to violence and intimidation in the streets.

Offside rules: an interview with Jafar Panahi

In just a few days time, on 11 June, Iran officially begins its 2006 German World Cup adventure.

Fiji's peace in a suitcase

One of a dozen or so grassroots activists who have flown in to bring firsthand expertise, Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls has travelled twenty hours from Fiji to Sussex for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's historic conference on UN Resolution 1325 for women's participation in conflict resolution and decision-making – the first event of its kind the Foreign Office has hosted on gender issues. Currently secretary of Fiji's National Council of Women, Sharon has worked with many organisations over the years, to include women in Fiji's political life and tap their contribution to peace.

Saudi Arabia's women pioneers

In the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive, one pioneering woman obtained a pilot's licence last year. This year, a few determined female students have embarked on Saudi Arabia's first ever engineering degree for women. In the midst of rapid economic growth and social change, Saudi Arabia is a place of paradox, an extremely conservative desert kingdom where you can sit in the world's only gender-segregated Starbucks franchises and use a mobile phone that recites the Quran.

The forward march of women halted?

In 1981, before the dissolution of democratic socialism in western Europe and the collapse of communism in the east, the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm published a short study on the state of the socialist movement entitled The Forward March of Labour Halted? Originally delivered as a lecture in 1978, Hobsbawm's perceptive and timely text pointed to a major reversal of leftwing, and more generally emancipatory, optimism across the world.

Stasa Zayovic

My activism began in 1985 with the feminist group Zena I drustvo (Woman and Society) in Belgrade. I was a co-founder of the SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence, of the Belgrade Women’s Lobby, of the Women’s Parliament – Belgrade, and of the Civic Resistance Movement. During the war, I was active with Belgrade’s Center for Anti-War Action.

In 1991, I was one of the founders of the feminist-pacifist group Women in Black. I have been a coordinator of and participant in the organisation’s anti-militarist, peace and feminist, actions, performances, gatherings, conferences, and seminars ever since. Women in Black, Belgrade has been demanding change in the current situations in Serbia and throughout the world by creating and participating in non-violent actions and activities against patriarchy, nationalism, militarism, and war and for the promotion of human rights, democracy, and non-violent conflict transformation. Our efforts to realise these goals include the following:

The Crosses of Juárez

On my way to the hotel Colonial in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the taxi driver offers me a visa to cross into the US.

"I have friends in the US Embassy who can arrange for the relevant documents within a week, and if you want to cross the border in another way I have trusted friends."

"Thanks, but I'm a tourist."

"You don't look like a tourist, and tourists don't visit Juárez. The gringos come in the evenings to drink and visit the brothels." After a long silence he warns me, "Be careful, journalists come to a bad end in Juárez."

A note about comments to the blog

Some technical news. We are having trouble with the comments function on this blog. At present it is unmoderated, which means anyone can post a comment, anonymously, any time. Unfortunately this also allows "spammers" to automatically post large amounts of irrelevant material into this space, making the blog - and the openDemocracy site as a whole - unstable. So to prevent the site crashing, we are closing the comments temporarily, until we can reinstate them with pre-moderation, which will require comments to be approved before they appear, and thus stem the flow of spam.

Comments will be back in the new year - apologies to those of you who were hoping to read or make them before then.

Representing différence

'Dans les écoles, les collèges et les lycées publics, le port de signes ou tenues par lesquels les élèves manifestent ostensiblement une appartenance religieuse est interdit. Le règlement intérieur rappelle que la mise en oeuvre d'une procédure disciplinaire est précédée d'un dialogue avec l'élève'


Article 1 de la loi n° 2004-228 du 15 mars 2004, inséré dans le code de l’éducation.

In February 2004, French MPs voted 494 to 36 in favour of legislation banning ostentatious religious symbolism in schoolwear. Could anything have been worse – one might ask – than such a large consensus among the political parties to promote a law that, in much of its implementation and outcomes, generates exclusion from state schools (47 individuals since September 2004), accentuates gender inequality by being directed mostly at women, and exacerbates indirect discrimination (did it occur to no one to remember the Sikhs during the preparation of this law)? But let us ask: would there have been a better result had more women been sitting in the French Parliament when these decisions were taken?

My last post

This is my final post, I just wanted to thank you all for the wonderful work, for your enthusiasm, for your support.

I really enjoyed participating in this exciting project. It was enlightening, interesting, and I do hope it made a difference.

Thank you



Bernard Dreano has sent us what he calls “significant messages from people in the banlieues”. I’ve translated some of these messages, please read through as there is a very interesting text written by mothers of the children some of whom have been most involved in the riots

From the Communiqué du Mouvement de l’Immigration et des Banlieues
- a federation of local groups, whose origin goes back to the protest movements of the 80s, still very active in some of today’s trouble spots.

“ Those who don’t understand the causes of today’s riots are either blind , suffering from amnesia, or both. For the last 30 years the “banlieues” have been demanding justice. For at least 25 years riots, demonstrations, marches, public meetings, and cries of protest against a succession specific reforms have been voiced.

But these cries have been ignored or papered over. As always it is the silent sufferings of millions of families, of men, of women, which endure: they suffer daily a social violence far more wounding than a burnt car.

There will never be any peace in our neighbourhoods as long as there is no justice or real equality. No attempts at pacification, no curfew will prevent us from carrying on fighting for our rights, even when the cameras turn their gaze elsewhere. “

An Appeal of the Mothers, from four well-known women of North African origin who are also mothers living in the banlieue…

We have listened to the President. We have followed closely the statements of the Prime Minister. We have been overwhelmed by the calls of crying mothers. Until now we haven’t said a word. And yet, we have things to say.

Because no matter where our partners are, no matter what they do, we, the mothers, keep making the breakfast… Since the dawn of this world, we have been healing the wounds. No matter what our memories are, our origins, our colour, our religion, our political orientation, we look after the entire human chain. We are at the crossroads of the interior and the exterior world. Our different status allows to hear what others can’t or won’t any longer. Today we call on everyone to take responsibility.

Dear children France is our country. Deep inside you know it. You feel like a foreigner, but in your home country. … You like the same music as your fellow pupils, you watch the same movies, and moreover you hope for the same future.
You have already dreamt about yourself as a minister, deputy, teacher, doctor, and we have already felt proud just thinking about it.

Today some of you who have seen their older brothers or fathers unemployed have gone out of control. But don’t destroy what gave you hope. Don’t burn what you adored. Don’t let the hate speeches get to you to destroy this country that we built together.

This would mean giving up. This would mean cowardice.

This would only validate the theories of those who want to draw borders between human beings, whether through politics or through religion.
Dear Messrs.Politicians, France is our country. We have deserved our place in it as mush as any others. Our ancestors belong to French history. We are not foreigners.

Don’t try justifying our children’s behaviour by culture or religion. You know our children have the same values as yours. The only difference is that they’re treated differently.

Revolt means hope. These cries in our “cities” are asking for help: don’t ignore them.

Yamina Benguigui, movie director
Alima Boumédiene-Thiery, senator
Dounia Bouzar, sociologist
Sapho, singer

Daily Links - 14 November

Dear readers and bloggers. Here is my last daily link post.
I thought I would leave you with two links which I hope will continue the debate between you all.
I first thought that some of you might be very interested in the discussion between Judith Butler and Jacqueline Rose on ‘Fear of the Other’ in the Israeli-Palestine conflict:

And in this study on Women, politics and democratic prospects in Latin America by M.Buvinic and V. Roza, produced by: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB / IADB) (2004)

A Trojan horse - and it is all of ours


Have we ever stopped to consider where we would be without 1325? I know the existence of this one piece of paper has done little if anything for the IDP women in Darfur or even Colombia. And I'm not one to make excuses for the dearth of women SRSGs or lack of support for women peace activists in Somalia, Sudan or Iraq.  It is pathetic and shameful that the very same governments that endorsed 1325 whole heartedly and whose representatives are thrilled to be showered with accolades and thanks of the women's movement, have done so very little to set the example in their own back yard and institutions. And, quite frankly, it's even more shameful that we even had to go to the lengths we did, to get a resolution in the name of women, peace and security.  After all, if the UN and its bits, the member states and their bits - were doing their job - just doing their job - we wouldn't need a resolution about women. But they don't do their job, and they don't set the examples. So we needed a resolution to make the issues mandatory, and to give us all a hook, a frame, a blueprint for what we wanted to achieve... 1325 implementation has been slow and frustrating - but without this framework, without the mandatory nature of the resolution, we would be even more invisible, even more confined to the margins, and still shouting into the wind.
Someone asked me the other day, why the focus on women? why so exclusive? why not include human rights groups and others? My answer was simple... I don't think we would have ever had a hope of getting a resolution passed on the mandatory participation of civil society or human rights groups in peace processes. They are perceived as being too threatening. Women on the other hand...are not so threatening, not so serious, not something to quibble about (except if you are Russia).  But as usual, we turned our weakness into our strength. The result is that the women's resolution gets through - but broader civil society is still pressing its nose against the window... those of you at the July conflict prevention conference in New York, could not have failed to notice that Kofi Annan couldn't even make a 5 minute opening speech.
1325 is a trojan horse. The council passed it, without (or maybe some did) recognising its revolutionary nature...  if and when it is implemented  is the gateway for major transformation in peace and security dealings.It does after all call not only for support to women, but also 'indigenous conflict resolution processes' -  It opens the door to participatory processes and places human security firmly at the core of post conflict reconstruction.  Surely that agenda isn't just a women's agenda.

The Spiritual dimension of Peace

Dear Fellow bloggers
Well, suddenly we find ourselves at the end of this wonderful experiment and I like many of you  am going to miss looking to see what  new wisdom was  posted  each day. I am most grateful to Rosemary and all the team at Open Democracy for all the work that goes on behind scenes…it all looks so smooth…but takes a tremendous co-ordination and work to get it all together, so thanks.
I don’t even know if this blog will find a home as I have, unusually for me, not posted all week as I have been away preparing for the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Belfast.
The theme of his visit is ‘The Spiritual Dimension of Peace' and  it occurred to me that we have discussed virtually every angle of  peacebuilding in the course of our blogging but  not touched on this side of ourselves.

 Have we been avoiding the subject I wonder because it is closely linked to religion, so often the cause of conflict, or is it just that it is difficult to describe so easily neglected in the bigger scheme of things?

The Promise of Iraq

Maysoon al-Damluji returned to her homeland for a week in May 2003, and stayed for two and a half years. She tells Rosemary Bechler about why she stayed, and her work with Iraq’s women’s movement.

Maysoon al-Damluji was sitting in a Bayswater coffee-shop, being hailed and hugged by a succession of friends, when Rosemary Bechler met her for this interview. Their greetings had the air of a conversation satisfactorily regained after a short, frustrating interruption. But there was nothing brief about it.

Rambling thoughts, final "official" blog day

This is rather a rambling post; I’ve got so much more to say and only today left to post to this blog (and now I’m posting a day late, on Saturday, because of various problems yesterday, when I wrote this). Please bear with me.

Maria’s posting brings home the point that peace-building is often most effective when engaged in by those who have suffered most. I am reminded that not a single combat veteran I have ever spoken with calls himself or herself “pro-war.” And as we are all very aware, the peace-building process must include men and women equally. But we must think long-term — toward, as Maria points out, a sustainable peace — and that means we have to begin by educating children early as to why gender equity, justice, and nonviolence are the preferred means to a sustainable, judicious, peaceful, prosperous world.

Peacebuilding cyberdialogue and local language radio programs to promote and facilitate women's participation in peace and secur

We linked to a notice of the upcoming exciting Women's Peace Building Cyber-Dialogues on October 21. Mavic has written to us with a brief report-back from that event:

"As part of the 5th anniversary of United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security, the International Women's Tribune Centre in collaboration with Isis-WICCE convened a Peace-Building CyberDialogue on UNSCR 1325. Envisioned as a global town hall meeting, this 'real time' discussion with voice and web camera facilities, connected women working on peace-building issues at the national and community levels with gender advocates, policy makers and diplomats meeting at the UN as well as with women attending the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) International Forum in Bangkok, Thailand.
Women gathered in Nepal, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Uganda and Zimbabwe as well as in Bangkok, Thailand and New York, USA to discuss their experiences with using UNSCR 1325, including ways to use the resolution to strengthen women's participation in key decision-making bodies that deal with peace and security issues and the issues that they want to bring to the attention of decision makers. Participants in New York included Rachel Mayanja, the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. Ms. Mayanja noted the women's concerns and suggestions and took their messages to the Open Debate of the UN Security Council, which took place immediately following the CyberDialogue.
Peace activists from Burma and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as advocates from Canada who came for the UN Security Council Meeting in New York also joined the peace-building cyberdialogues.
Some of the key points that participants in the cyberdialogues raised were:

-        the need to ensure that women understand SCR 1325 and along with this, their need to be trained to gain skills in negotiation and in understanding and analyzing conflict - so that they can participate more effectively in discussions and negotiations on peace and security issues  

-        the need to educate the general public to develop a broad constituency of people who are aware of the issues [arising from conflict and those that bring about conflict] and how these can impact on their daily lives

A message to the bloggers from Senator Mobina Jaffer


For many of you, Senator Mobina Jaffer, Chair of the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security will need no introduction. Others may like to read my profile of her in today’s article. She was one of many people I went to see to try and understand how to assess the success of Resolution 1325 to date. I met someone who was always looking forward to the next day’s opportunities, whatever had happened yesterday. So I asked her for a message for the Women Making a Difference bloggers, and I think she was just the person to ask. This was her message to you all:

“I have spent some time reading the posts in this blog and I am energised by the passion and in many cases, frustration shared about the international results to date of resolution 1325.
I too am frustrated.  I want to see change happen now.  I don’t want to have to travel back to places like Darfur and witness the scars, both physical and emotional. I know that as impatient as I am to see change, my sisters in Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, the DRC and Iraq are even more impatient. They know what the cost of war and the value of real peace are where they are actively involved in decision-making.
Don’t give up. Don’t be overwhelmed by the obstacles that are faced as we move this important issue forward. It is only through the collaboration and partnership of our sisters around the globe that the commitments in 1325 will be fully realised. Change is taking place, we are moving forward. Our efforts are paying off so please stay strong. The work of one woman is like a stone dropped into the water. The ripples cast go on and on.”

Daily Links - 11 November

Women and Traditions
An intra-Arab dialogue around the current role of women in peace building and conflict resolution in the Middle-East hosted in Damascus, Syria.


Liberia's 'Iron Lady' claims win
(, 11/11/05))
Is she going to make a difference?


Bahrain feminists prepare for protest (, 08/11/05)
The family Law in Bahrain has been rejected because it does not advocate the Shariah’s laws. Feminists have decided to protest against this rejection.

From Nicola Johnston-Coeterier - Rememberence & Peacebuilding

On this day we here in the UK use to remember those who died in the 1st and 2nd World Wars and the last day of this discussion I thought I would try to share a few personal thoughts on gender and peacebuilding in this complex world we live in.

 I was moved by the words of the newly wed man in Jordan after the suicide attack on his wedding this week - he lost his father and his father-in-law on his wedding day and his words were - "This is not what we call Islam, this is not how Muslem's behave". The response from the Jordainian public has also been a further reflection of his words. This man in the face of such personal and devestating tradgedy was able to say quite clearly and powerfully violence and killing is not the way to get accross the message.

'Speak the truth, stop the killing'

Yesterday, one of our readers sent us the following message and link:

“Dear friends
please read this when you have the time. Its about terrorism and the politics of violence, and (I think)  has something to do with your interests. If you agree, please put the link on your website, or pass it on... “

Well, I for one, do agree. It’s great to to be offered something to read on our last official day of blogging on UN Resolution 1325 that opens up an even wider historical debate on violence that could keep us going for months!

Women taking power: Mobina Jaffer's message

Rosemary Bechler would like to thank the Foreign Policy Centre and the Barrow Cadbury Trust for a chance to meet Senator Mobina Jaffer and others at the Global Exchange Forum: Understanding Women's Social Capital and spend the day at that interesting event

When I met Senator Mobina Jaffer at the Global Exchange Forum, this small-built, demure lady ate her lunch while giving rapid, comprehensive answers to my questions without any sign of strain. Here was a redoubtable multi-tasker, I thought. Born in Uganda, Mobina Jaffer has achieved a string of firsts: she became the first East Indian woman lawyer in British Columbia and in 2001 she was appointed to the Canadian Senate as the first East Indian, first Muslim woman, and the first African. A year later, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed her Chair of the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security. Canada has been a leading nation among the “Friends of 1325”, and Mobina seized the opportunity to initiate a new way of working:

Daily Links - 10 November

Have a look at the speeches given in the open debate organised for 1325 5th anniversary.


"As the fifth anniversary of Resolution 1325 is marked, women in conflict areas still have a lot of work ahead" (Juliana Omale,, 28/10/05)
Five years after the implementation of 1325, progress has been made, but much work still needs to be done.

Delicate issues

Dear Sarah and wonderful colleagues at Open Democracy.
Greetings from Durban, South Africa.
Please I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the blog. I must admit this was my first experience and I enjoyed it tremendously. I learnt a lot from various conflict issues for women in other parts of the globe. Interestingly, most of the delicate issues we experience as women are very similar and hopefully we can share strategies for successful interventions from our various contexts. So please could you provide the list of blog members with their contact details, possibly their email contacts so that we can keep in touch with each other beyond the blog. Possibly we can also link them to our networks in their specific parts of the world.
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