From Nicola Johnston-Coeterier - Rememberence & Peacebuilding

11 November 2005

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.

We need men as much as women speaking out for peaceful means for resolving differences and conflicts. Too often in conflict situations around the world, power is seen as coming through the barrel of a gun. It takes great courage to speak out for peaceful solutions in such situations. At International Alert we are privileged to work with many brave partners - men and women - in conflict affected regions who are doing just this every day as a means of survival and acting on what they believe to be the right way to build sustainable peace.

When it comes to formal peace processes women's voices are still not systematically included and the reasons for this in terms of inequality need to be addressed at the root of gender relations. Women are often the survivors of conflict and those who have held communities together in times of violent conflict. Women know what their priorities for peacebuilding, security and conflict prevention are and these need to be channelled to the international bodies who respond to peace and security emergencies. Systematic civil society engagement is still very much lacking in international peace support operations and fact finding missions and within this limited engagement the lack of inclusivity of women is all too frequently a blatent gap. Again we need gender-aware men and women in decision-making positions to be able to correct this.

If we are not addressing the security and peacebuilding realities and priorities of local men and women in conflict-affected regions we are missing the purpose of peacebuilding! So on this Rememberance Day let us also remember this in the name of SUSTAINABLE PEACE.

Thanks to the Open Democracy Debate Team for profiling this important debate!



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