One day before the Geneva II Conference on Syria was to start in Montreux/Geneva, the Programme on Gender and Global Change at the Graduate Institute hosted a public roundtable with Nobel Peace Prize Winners Shirin Ebadi and Mairead Maguire as well as Cynthia Enloe and women peace activists from Bosnia, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Western Sahara and Sri Lanka, in solidarity with Syrian women peace activists. Women civil society representatives from Bosnia, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Western Sahara, and Sri Lanka shared their experiences on peace activism and reiterated that women and men experience armed conflict differently. They reflected on how the exclusion of women from peace negotiations undermines sustainable post-conflict development.
Cynthia Enloe chaired a roundtable discussion with Syrian women who emphasized that women in Syria engage in everyday peacemaking and reconciliation efforts. These include conflict mediation in communities and coordinating humanitarian relief.
Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325, gender-sensitive peacebuilding has become a norm that states that gender equality can help prevent war, that women need to be protected from gender-based violence, and that women should be participating in peacemaking. In October 2013, the UN Security Council followed up with Resolution 2122 on Women, Peace and Security, which aims to strengthen women’s roles in conflict prevention and resolution. The new resolution emphasized the need to address issues that have prevented the implementation of 1325. It “recognized with concern that without a ‘significant implementation shift’, women would remain under-represented in conflict prevention and resolution, protection and peacebuilding for the foreseeable future”.
International civil society groups, such as the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), have lobbied international sponsors of the Geneva II peace talks on the applicability of UNSCR 1325 to the Syria Conflict. Despite support from a number of states, such as the Netherlands, Norway and the UK, for the motion to include women in the peace talks, the UN and the Arab League of Nations decided against their participation.