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LAU’s women’s institute kicks off gender and peace conference

A three-day international conference tackles issues of peace and security in the region spotlighting the need for gender equality and women’s participation.

Academics and professionals active in the field of gender equality gathered at LAU today for the opening ceremony of a three-day international conference featuring discussions by seasoned experts about the prioritization of women, peace and security on the Arab agenda.

Eight distinct panels will address a range of topics, including the role of institutions, current peace processes, expanding women’s participation, and the significance of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 which reaffirms the importance of women in conflict resolution, post-conflict reconstruction, and humanitarian responses among others, and calls for their protection from gender-based violence.

“There is a tide gathering momentum that began in 2000 with the passing of that resolution when the UN became aware of the changing nature of war,” said LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra in his welcoming address.

“The tide has reached the shores of the Arab world. There is a lot of conflict and many refugees in our region, and gender perspective is low,” added Jabbra, expressing the impetus behind the conference, which was organized by LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Danish research institute KVINFO.

Over the past 15 years, seven Security Council resolutions have been passed that address the topics of women, peace and security, setting the framework for policy formulation. “Men and women experience war in different ways. This has always been the case, but resolution 1325 recognized that and changed how we think about gender,” explained Director of IWSAW Lina Abirafeh, adding that despite the recognition, the agenda remains under-funded. “Over the past sixteen years the world has changed. Conflicts, mass displacements and extremism are on the rise and, in the words of one soldier, it is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier.”

The consideration of women when discussing peace and security, Abirafeh pointed out, is not a token or a favor, but rather an essential and fundamental right, and one that academia has been increasingly involved in. “We have degrees and institutes dedicated to women, peace and security,” she said, addressing the many academics and professionals who gathered in Beirut with the aim of exchanging their experiences and ideas.

Among them, the Deputy Director of ESCWA Mehrinaz Al Awadi stressed the importance of prevention schemes and noted the positive correlation between women’s involvement in and the success of peace initiatives, before calling on all those present to actively participate in each discussion and share their ideas. “Women’s leadership is essential for peace… It is our collective responsibility to engage in this issue.”

Also emphasizing the impact of women’s participation in peace initiatives ws Koni Christiansen, a senior advisor at conference partner KVINFO. “A recent UN Women report highlights the underrepresentation of women at the negotiating table and the limited influence those present have. Women in the Arab world need protection during times of war and representation during peace building.”

Join the discussion at the ongoing conference (8-10 August, Commodore Hotel, Hamra, Beirut).

Click here for the program.

 


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