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Sarai Aharoni

30 September 2005
My name is Sarai Aharoni. I am a 32 year old Jewish feminist activist in a local Israeli women’s NGO, Isha l’Isha - Haifa Feminist Center. My feminist and peace activism are deeply connected to the reality of daily life in Israel since October 2000, when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has seen a new peak of violence with the outbreak of the Al-Aksa Intifada.

As the coordinator of the program for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 at Isha l’Isha (2003-2004) I was involved in many activities which focused on distributing as much information as possible, to various audiences- including civil and military professionals and women’s rights activists, as well as to the wide public - regarding Resolution 1325. This included the translation of the Resolution into Hebrew, and the publication of a tri-lingual book named “Where are all the women?”.

This program was designed to advocate for mainstreaming a gender perspective in all attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict. Our main mission is to raise awareness to the specific needs of Israeli women and girls, within the local discourse on national security, as well as to create concrete mechanisms for including Israeli women in peace negotiations and implementing them respectively.

Lately I was involved in two major efforts to achieve these goals. The first included the promotion of the amendment to the existing Law for Women’s Equality (1951) which was passed on July 2005. According to the law, the Israeli government will be required to include women in any group appointed for peace negotiations or to design domestic, foreign or security policy.  Secondly, I was a member of a pioneering research team producing a report about the civil, economic and emotional experiences of Israeli women since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The initial report was submitted to the CSW on Beijing +10 last March and is now being published in Hebrew.

These days I’m writing my doctoral thesis about the “Gender Perspective and the Participation of Israeli Women in Formal Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations, 1991-2001”. I am also a mother of two young boys.

The main issues I would like to bring to this discussion are:

What should be the exact role of the international women’s movement in pushing ahead Resolution 1325? Taking into account that most of the decisions regarding armed conflict are made by local politicians and generals, and are affected by a unique set of cultural and social norms that determine women’s different experiences in various regions.  

How can we create a strategy that will fill the need to educate and advocate on the local level, and at the same time will keep the pressure on international forums to adopt a clear stand regarding women, peace and security?
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