Women have played an important part in building peace in conflict areas across the globe.
The Women and Peace Building Project was a cross-border initiative, supported by the Special EU Programmes Body, which involves a partnership approach between the Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) and the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI).
Over a two year period, the project has aimed to distil and disseminate learning from the Northern Ireland peace process. It used the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ as a tool to enable women in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland to talk about their own experiences, with a particular emphasis on post-conflict issues.
UNSCR1325 recognises the important role played by women in the “prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction” the world over. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has called on the UK government to ensure the full implementation of UNSCR1325 in Northern Ireland, but to date, this has not happened.
The key objectives of the Women and Peace Building Project included:
A process of facilitated reflection which will be used to build the self confidence and knowledge of community based women across the North/South region.
Expanding awareness of the range of peace building approaches and strategies by sharing experiences with other conflict zones.
Production of a toolkit on Women and Peace Building – developing practical approaches that will be circulated through the Foundations for Peace Network.
Production of a policy report on gender and peace building which will be made available to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Conflict Resolution Unit, the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and the UK’s Department for International Development.
Develop networking links between international women in conflict zones who are working for peace and reconciliation and with a focus on future connections.
An expert advisory panel directed the work of the project, headed by Professor Monica McWilliams, who is currently based within the Department of Social Policy at the University of Ulster and is the former Human Rights Commissioner for Northern Ireland.
The project was initially centred around a series of roundtable discussions for women that included topics such as community safety, personal security, domestic and sexual violence, and barriers to participation.
A summary document of each discussion can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:
Women: Dealing with the Past Workshop – Belfast, 8th October 2013
Women: Legacies of the Past – Clones, 3rd October 2013
Women: Making a Difference (Cross Border Shared Learning Workshop) – Limavady, 19th June 2013
Women: Making a Difference – Letterkenny, 12th June 2013
Women: Making a Difference – Coleraine, 6th June 2013
Women: Community and Political Participation (Cross Border Workshop) – Enniskillen, 16th May 2013
Women: Community and Political Participation – Sligo, 2nd May 2013
Women: Community and Political Participation – Enniskillen, 18th April 2013
Women: Your Community, Your Role Cross Border Workshop – Armagh, 6th December 2012
Women: Violence, Community Safety and Feelings of Security Cross-Border Workshop – Newry, 21st June 2012
Women: Your Community – Your Role – Monaghan, 15th November 2012
Women: Your Community – Your Role – Rathcoole, 8th November 2012
Women: Domestic and Sexual Violence – Newry, 12th June 2012
Women: Violence, Community Safety and Security – Dundalk, 8th June 2012
Women: Violence, Community Safety and feelings of security – Derry/Londonderry, 29th March 2012
A ‘Women: Dealing with the Past’ cross border, shared learning workshop also took place on 12 November 2013. Click here to read the NI Foundation article on the event.
In March 2014, WRDA was involved in staging two major conferences to mark of the final stages of the project. The first took place in Belfast and gathered women’s views on the Haass-O’Sullivan Talks to ensure they would not simply be overlooked. As part of this, Louise Mallinder of Ulster Univeristy produced an excellent summary of the failed talks. A full report on the views put forward during the conference is also available:
Haass-O’Sullivan Talks: What do women think?: Summary of table dicussions – Belfast, 1st March 2014
Another conference followed later in the month on Women and Peace Building: Sharing The Learning. This event looked back over all the work done during the last two years and brought together many of the women who had attended the previous workshops. A new policy toolkit was unveiled, which will show policy makers who to implement the provisions of UNSCR 1325 in their work. A full report on the event has also been published: Women and Peace Building: Sharing The learning: Summary of Roundtable Discussions, 20th March 2014
In June, we brought the project to a close with a fantastic final event, No Peace Without Women. This officially launched the new policy toolkit, while also facilitating further discussions around UNSCR 1325 abd peace building. Read our news story on the event here. A full report on the discussions that took place during the event can be accessed here: No Peace Without Women Workshop Discussions, 27th June 2014
The toolkit can be downloaded below:
Briefing Paper: Legacies
Briefing Paper: Participation
Briefing Paper: Prevention
Briefing Paper: Protection
Briefing Paper: Recovery
Although the Women and Peace Building Project has ended, WRDA hopes to become involved in similar projects in future.