“The International Day of Peace offers a cessation of violence and conflict throughout the world, and the related importance of achieving the broadest possible awareness and observance of the International Day of Peace among the global community”
-UN General Assembly
Since 1981, September 21st has been marked as the International Day of Peace. Established by the United Nations, this day represents the importance of coming together and working towards the goal of creating peaceful environments for men, women and children all around the world. Today, as we reflect on the importance of working towards peace, I would like to draw attention to the unique role women play in achieving this very end.
On October 31st 2000 the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. This resolution specifically addresses the impact armed conflict has on women and girls. It calls for not only for women’s full and equal participation in decision making but ensures that’s the rights of women and girls are protected. Resolution 1325 is the first of its kind to deal exclusively with issues of women’s peace and security, and results from many years of work.
In Canada, both government and civil society have a clear desire to see Resolution 1325 implemented to the fullest possible extent. From 2002 to 2005 I was given the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security. While working in this capacity I also served as the Special Envoy to the peace process in Sudan where I witnessed firsthand the important role women play in peace negotiations. While in Sudan I often found myself asking where all the women were. When I realized that women were not a part of the peace negotiations I knew that this had to be changed. After a lot of hard work and convincing, over 17 women were brought to the table in Abuja. Here I watched with amazement as the entire peace process changed. All of the women who participated in the negotiations brought a very valuable perspective to the table one that had great practical significance.
On a day where the international community celebrates peace let us hear the cries of women in the Congo who continue to be victims of what has been called a war against women. Let us give a voice to young women in Afghanistan who are routinely robbed of the most basic and fundamental human rights. Let us finally acknowledge that the only way that real, sustainable peace will be achieved is if all of these women are a part of the equation.