“We, as women, have the highest stake in peace,” a Yemeni woman peacebuilder said.
She was directly involved in resolving many local conflicts. She mediated to evacuate children trapped in the crossfire and resolved an armed water dispute. She was among a group of women who mediated to open humanitarian corridors in the city of Taiz and facilitated the entering of oxygen and medical supplies and other humanitarian aid at a time when there was no presence of government services or international organizations on the ground.
This woman, and many like her, are the force that prevents disputes from becoming bloody wars in their cities, yet they remain excluded from peace tables.
Despite the evidence and research that clearly say that peace is 35% more likely to be sustainable if women are included, women remain in the backseat of peace negotiations.
We must understand that the nature of wars has changed and that we must change the way we build peace. And it is indeed perplexing that peace tables only include armed men, with no one speaking for peace, for societies, for children, or for those who never held a gun. The vision of peace is a woman’s vision, and it is consistently excluded.
Today, in the middle of the most violent of places, we find that the women are the ones with the needed courage to speak out and fight for peace. As Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nadia Murad, said, “If we don’t speak up today, tomorrow this will continue.” It has always been and will always be the women, who have a vision of peace based on equality, rights and justice for all.
We must remember that they have knowledge of ground realities, and they provide an early alarm to threats to their societies. They are also the first to call for peace. How is it, then, that we continue to ignore their contributions and their critical role in building peace?
We must work harder, as Parliamentarians and as human beings, to make sure that women peacebuilders have a seat at the peace table. We must ensure that their voices are heard, and that their vision is made a reality.