International Conference "Women Leaders - Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East"
Hosted by Ursula Plassnik, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, an international conference took place on May 30-31. The core message of this conference was: "Violence must be countered by dialogue - Keeping space for dialogue open".
The Conference was an internationally unprecedented attempt to gather women in leading political positions from the Middle East and other conflict areas at a Round Table and to have them engage in a dialogue about possibilities of conflict resolution and peace building in the Middle East.
Objective as much as result of the conference were the presence of women in decision making positions and women experts from media, economy, education, and civil society and their direct exchange and discussion.
The strategy of networking was successfully implemented inter alia through the high-level representation of participants engaged in efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as Tzipi Livni, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, Hannan Ashrawi, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, and other high ranking political personalities and ministers from the Arab World (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia) and the region (e.g. Hero Talabani, First Lady of Iraq), international politicians such as European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner or the President of the UN-General Assembly Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa from Bahrain.
Three Workshops in the fields of media, economy and education, and civil society issued recommendations for further networking strategies (see recommendations attached) and identified the following aspects among others as crucial: The implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security; enhancing regional and international cooperation and supporting confidence-building measures in all areas (media, business, education, politics and civil society); improving communication and consultation mechanisms between local, regional and international politicians and women in conflict resolution and peace building. The implementation of these recommendations and possible follow-up initiatives are currently reviewed. The workshop results have been the basis for the Round Table that deepened the political discussion and shed light on the overall socio-political framework.
The Women’s Empowerment Network, co-chaired by Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and US SoS Condoleezza Rice, adopted a set of "Recommendations on the Empowerment of Women in the Area of Conflict Resolution and Peace Building - (see attachment) demanding amongst others a fair share of international mediation and peace building positions for women (currently there is no woman among the United Nations 54 Special Envoys), and calling on regional and international actors to more effectively screen their programmes and strategies with regard to conflict management concerning the integration of women. The recommendations were submitted to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
Currently on the Austrian and international level concrete follow up activities are in planning stage. For further details, please, refer to the attached conference brochure.