Who needs Peace – let women alongside!

Women in Pakistan faces multi layer damages while loses their family members during acts of terrorism, border conflicts and violence since decades in conjunction with as declared a frontline state to counter terrorism after 9/11, but irony that the women of Pakistan do not have a voice in the peace process, decision for war on terror and conflict resolution in the country. It is still to be considering a masculine domain to talk about War, conflict, security and peace, why woman voice is missing in the process although she has losses more?

Now Pakistan is a part of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance against Terrorism (IMAT), former Pakistani army chief to lead the 41-nation counter-terrorism alliance and of course in US-Arab-Islamic summit come up with arms deals worth almost $110bn that will be used on humans not stones! No wonder, if women allowed during these decisions making process that would be different for sure!

Women as victims of violence, and especially of armed conflict are an obvious and often talked about, fact. One of the most important features of UN Security Resolution 1325 adopted in 2000, on Women, Peace and Security is that it does not focus on women as victims, but as invaluable actors in any successful peace-building effort. Resolution 1325 clarifies that not only do women need to be represented, but their perspectives and experiences should also form part of the decision making.

This resolution recognizes the need to increase women’s role in peace-building in conflict-ridden countries. However, the scope of 1325 is much wider. It not only calls for women role to be integrated in peace talks, it also presses for a more gender-sensitive perspective to consider the special needs of women and girls during conflict, repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. The UNSCR 1325 focuses on issues of gender-based violence and refugee camps covered in Articles 10 and 12. Consequently, the impact gets wider.
Gender equality should be an essential part of any kind of peace building activities, whether it is conflict prevention, conflict resolution or post-conflict reconstruction. Let us not forget that it is where violence and discrimination against women exist prior to a conflict that these are almost definite to remain and even be aggravated throughout conflict. The same applies to women’s participation in decision-making structures of a society. If their participation is limited before the outbreak of a conflict, they are unlikely to be involved in decisions relating to the conflict or a following peace process. But the question arise will the Pakistani woman at the grassroots level have a say or right to speak up? alongside the men, regarding how peace should be achieved? Conflict resolution and peace-building from a gender perspective means changing the system and power dynamics that led to conflict. Sustainable peace requires inclusion of women and all segments of society as politically viable citizens. Women’s participation in resolving and preventing conflict is not an optional, but rather an essential ingredient of peace-building.

Alongside, Pakistani civil society has rich experience when it comes to preventing conflict particularly through a range of approaches this has included organizing vigils, organizing rural networks to enable women’s participation and interactive dialogues with government officials particularly through the innovative use of community media including community radio; in the transition to parliamentary democracy women’s rights groups have been working in partnership to enhance women’s political participation that lead to peace process and conflict resolution right from door step to decision making circles. Let the local body system of governance taking breath and chance to prevail and empower local community. Women, peace and security is emerging as an important rivulet in the development sector, so as more people are talking about traditional approaches of conflict resolution and peace building, while still being open to inventive techniques. Time to hold dialogue and construct a narrative around this for building peaceful society and unafraid human ecosystem.

[pullquote]About Samreen Khan Ghauri[/pullquote]
She is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, social activist, multi media journalist & development entrepreneur.
[email protected]
She tweets @samreen_ideas

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