Maria Olson

4 October 2005
I work as Programme Officer on Gender in the Peacebuilding Issues Programme of International Alert - the independent peacebuilding organisation that works to build sustainable peace in countries and communities affected or threatened by violent conflict.  International Alert's gender work has evolved from our 1999 global campaign, "Women Building Peace: From the Village Council to the Negotiating Table", that together with over 200 other organisations successfully advocated for the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. In 2004, Alert, together with Women Waging Peace, produced a publication entitled "Inclusive Security: Sustainable Peace A Toolkit for Advocacy and Action". The Toolkit is a resource for peacebuilders and practitioners particularly women to engage in peace and security issues. Unpacking 1325 into issues covering the whole conflict cycle, the Toolkit provides critical information, strategies and approaches and aims to bridge the divide between the realities of peace activists in conflict, post-conflict or transition areas, and international practitioners and policy makers. To find out more about our work and to download our publications on gender and peacebuilding, please see our website www.international-alert.org.

Both Alert’s Senior Policy Advisor on Gender, Nicola Johnston, and myself are active in two networks working to implement 1325: the UN-focused NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security in New York (NGO WG) of which Alert is a founding member; and the UK Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (UKWG). Through the UKWG we have been lobbying and advising the UK government on implementing 1325, for example by inputting into the UK Action Plan on 1325. In this debate, I will be blogging from NY on the 5 year on events at UN Headquarters and covering the NGO WG’s October Advocacy Program, the objective of which is to ensure that women’s experiences and concerns in areas affected by violent conflict are voiced and heard at UN Headquarters, through an Arria Formula to the Security Council and in the Open Debate as well as at strategic events, panels, and meetings. Selected advocates from Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Colombia will develop concrete recommendations on issues of women, peace and security for the work of the Security Council, UN Agencies, Member States and civil society. The NGO WG’s website is here.

I hold a BA in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and an MSc in International Relations from the LSE.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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