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50.50 Highlights 2014

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"It is not just about hope and ideas, it's about action...Our duty is to have a dream, but work everyday for reality" Shirin Ebadi

Visit conference coverage   NWI events 2010    Nobel Women's Initiative 2009    Nobel Women's Initiative 2007

The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. The women are united in their support for women's rights work and bring together women activists and scholars from around the world in an effort to build a culture of peace with justice and equality. openDemocracy has been covering these international gatherings since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy's own authors. View the full list of articles or, alternatively, browse by yearly coverage: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013.

Listen to 50.50 Nobel Women's Initiative podcasts.

Read Towards nuclear non-proliferation.

Read Towards nonviolence.

Peacework: women in action across Europe

The full engagement of women at all levels of negotiations is essential in order to promote nonviolent solutions that address the causes of conflict and build peace and justice. Sue Finch and Liz Khan report from the European Women in Black conference in Belgium on a critical moment for Europe’s future.

Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return

The Nayarit conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons demonstrated beyond doubt that preventing nuclear catastrophe is the responsibility and right of all. As Austria picks up the baton, the challenge will be to move forward in a process that is open to all and blockable by none

The anti-women gag law in Afghanistan: the pitfalls of hasty conclusions

Does the new criminal procedure code in Afghanistan signal the demise of all efforts to curb violence against women? An accurate reading of the law, and a nuanced understanding of the post-NATO developments and impact on women’s rights tells a different story.

"We are hungry in three languages": citizens protest in Bosnia

Demonstrations have spread rapidly across Bosnia, with citizens organizing popular assemblies to voice their frustration with the country’s institutional paralysis.  Through the adamantly non-ethnic nature of the demonstrations, the protesters are taking aim at the entire political elite. Valerie Hopkins reports from Sarajevo.

The UK government's stand against humanitarian disarmament

Why is the UK government boycotting a key multilateral conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons? Rebecca Johnson analyses the implications for British nuclear policy as governments and civil society convene in Mexico to take forward a new humanitarian disarmament process

Breaking up with lame: protests in Bosnia

On the fifth day of ongoing demonstrations in Sarajevo, a routine is establishing itself and there is a feeling of something new in the landscape of Dayton-constitution Bosnian purgatory – citizens are breaking up with their fears.

"Rehearsing the revolution": theatre in Israel-Palestine

In Israel/Palestine, former combatants are using the Theatre of the Oppressed to move towards an end to the occupation. Recently London theatre group Cardboard Citizens invited a former Israeli officer to share his experience of making theatre for peace.

Syrian women demand to take part in the peace talks in Geneva

There are over fifty Syrian women in Geneva this week. They are demanding a ceasefire in Syria and to be part of the planned peace talks in Geneva, January 22. Supported by international women's organisations, they are there to break the medieval narrative and to ensure that the voices of those who believe in humanity are heard.

The invisible men with the arms

When it comes to gender based violence in Arab transition contexts, it is not only state militarism we should be concerned about, but the proliferation of militias and weapons across borders, argues Mariz Tadros

Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process

There is a backlash against women’s agency in Northern Ireland in a number of different ways, all of which impact on the ability of women to participate fully in initiatives intended to deal with the legacy of the past and support the transition out of conflict.

Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap

Trafficking and sexual exploitation are an integral part of armed conflict and its aftermath. Madeleine Rees argues that the lack of political will and an interpretation of law that works in favour of perpetrators - including those working in international peace keeping institutions - must be addressed

Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life

Rape has been recognized as a war crime in international and Bosnian law, but women survivors seldom receive the reparation they are owed. Meanwhile, persistent male violence makes daily life in Bosnia-Herzegovina a battleground for many women.

Syria: women, peacework, and the lesson from Bosnia

Below the radar of the Geneva-2 peace talks, Bosnian and Syrian women are meeting to discuss the lessons that must be learnt from the failure of the Dayton Agreement. Without the voices of those who have the greatest stake in preserving peace in their countries, peace agreements don't work.

To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy

Civil society must stop the use of chemical weapons being used as a pretext for US-led bombing in Syria. A gendered understanding demonstrates that the only sustainable strategy is to pursue disarmament and strengthen international humanitarian law.

Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma

‘How can we get peace and democracy when we still have domestic wars and when everyday people are dying?’ Jessica Nhkum spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast about the importance of documenting human rights violations, injustices and inequality on the ground in Burma

Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee was recently invited to Tripoli to deliver a speech on the role of women in transforming conflict and leading reconciliation in Libya. When she saw who was in the audience, she changed her prepared speech...

From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights

Patriarchy, militarism and neoliberalism have created a matrix in which women and women’s rights can never flourish because none of them place human values and human dignity at their core. Heather McRobie reflects on the conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast.

Militarism and non-state actors: ‘the other invasion’

'What they call transnational development companies. For us they represent death and destruction’, yet when it comes to the pursuit of justice through law, too often activists are on the wrong side. Jennifer Allsopp reports from Belfast at the Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference.

What sex means for world peace

Speaking at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference, Valerie Hudson argues that best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. Little analysed in international relations theory, state security and women’s security are inextricably linked. Heather McRobie reports from Belfast

Challenging militarized masculinities

It is not that ‘masculinity’ generates war, as the question has been put, but rather that the process of militarization both draws on and exaggerates the bipolarization of gender identities in extremis, says Amina Mama 

Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government

The lack of institutional concern for epidemic levels of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt is part of the larger neglect of the issue of gender equality by the post-revolutionary powers, says Heather McRobie. 

"We want peace. We’re tired of war"

"If we live violence every day, how can we work for the development of our country so that we can benefit from human rights like other countries and like other women?"  - Julienne Lusenge speaking about her work as a women's human rights defender in the DRC

To a culture of peace from a culture of war

The culture of war is like a mangrove that takes root in our everyday lives and institutions occupying a dominant position in the field of cultural reproduction. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference on the nonviolent tactics, syllabuses, movements and strategies in place to build a culture of peace.

Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world

When did a political formation in theory designed to preserve our common good become a machinery of war? Or does the nation-state depend on militarism for its very existence? Jennifer Allsopp writes from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Belfast.

Women of Senegal: agents of peace

The physical and moral suffering undergone by the valiant people of Casamance is incalculable and, as usual, it is the women and children who pay the highest price. From their position as victims, women have decided to become committed agents of peace, says Ndeye Marie Thiam.

The framework of democracy is human rights law

Democracy is more of a culture than a way of governing or a political system. It is a historical process that must go through its evolution. No country can be a quasi democracy. It is in fact democratic people that make a society democratic, says Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi

Women in post-earthquake Haiti: moving beyond survival

Haitian women who are living and organising in the displacement camps, together with international partners, have produced an essential blueprint for addressing rape. If adopted by the Haitian Parliament as revisions to the Haitian legal code, this would be a major advancement in legislation addressing gender-based violence and discrimination, says Yifat Susskind.

Ending violence against women: the challenge of translating words into action

In recognising rape and sexual violence as a violation of human rights, the presence of expansive and well intentioned laws is not effective if impunity ensures lack of accountability and transparency, says Adelaide

From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons

Sixty years after Britain’s first atomic weapons test, we need to consider the parallels between how the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was achieved in the 1990s and today’s nuclear challenges. The British government is, yet again, unable to read the writing on the wall, says Rebecca Johnson

Women and the language of peace protest

In January 1968, young feminist antiwar activists in the U.S temporarily broke with a long tradition of protesting war as mothers. At an all-women’s protest against the Vietnam War, they symbolically buried “Traditional Womanhood” and claimed the right to protest as independent citizens.  Does it matter what language women use to protest war ?

Japan's peace pledge under attack

Japan adopted its war-renouncing constitution following World War II, with Article 9 as a promise to itself and a pledge to the world to never repeat its mistakes. The debate provoked by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo over amending this famous peace clause threatens to destabilise the fragile regional peace

"I protest": challenging the war policies of the United States

After serving in the US Army, and later as a diplomat, Colonel Ann Wright resigned her position in opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, 2003. She explains her opposition to the use of drones, and why any demilitarism plan for the planet must begin with the United States

How to vote for peace

In order to vote for peace, we must first vote for voting systems which are 'peace-ful'. Peter Emerson argues for consensus voting which allows for differences but mutual respect, is inclusive, accurate, and very democratic

The foundation of human security in every society

The social fabric of a group is woven, in the first place, by the efforts of women. After war, the surest way to rebuild society is to protect and empower those who will re-weave the torn social fabric if given half a chance to do so: the women.

Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death

What unites people's movements from the Arab 'spring' to Occupy, is a new consciousness that a good life, with dignity, freedom, fairness and human security, is their right -  and by the law of love and logic, the right of every man and woman, says laureate Mairead Maguire.

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