Women Resolving Conflicts Through Dialogue and Negotiation
Istanbul, Turkey, 24 June 2012
In the past eighteen months, the Middle East has been affected by conflict and a new panorama is emerging due to the Arab Spring. New democracies are developing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen with other countries within the region starting to implement political reforms. It is too soon to judge if these changes and reforms will benefit women, but from what we are seeing so far, women again are being excluded from taking part in the negotiations and in shaping these new democracies.
There are also many other on-going conflicts such as in Cyprus, Western Sahara, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Again women are mostly excluded from taking part in these peace process negotiations.
In 2000 the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security set out for the first time the political and legal framework for the United Nations and member states to increase the participation of women in peace negotiations and operations. It also urged the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence during conflict and a requirement on member states to meet the particular needs of women and girls in refugee camps, during repatriation and post-conflict reconstruction.
However 12 years after Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, little progress has been made. There is no adequate implementation of the United Nations Resolution. Although steps have been made by some member states, women rarely participate in peace process negotiations.
Women in Turkey have made great political advances despite the challenges that face them. In the 2011 Turkish general election, for example, the number of women from all parties becoming members of parliament increased from 46 to 78. While 19 are from the Republican People's Party (CHP), 11 are from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Both parties are members of the Socialist International and both aim to promote women's active participation in politics but yet the reality is that women from these parties still struggle to be included in strategic decision-making. There is one area of policy where women, and Kurdish women in particular, are most resolutely excluded: around the peace table.
Throughout history and until this day, Kurds, one of the ancient people of the Middle East, have suffered cultural discrimination, assimilation as well as violent suppression. Kurdish people seek self-determination and recognition of their ethnic identity. Kurdish women have played an active role in the struggle for peace, freedom and democracy, and proven their great skills of negotiation and cooperation through dialogue. Nonetheless this process has lead to their persecution and the recent waves of arrests.
The Socialist International Women supports Kurdish women in their struggle to open a process of negotiation and dialogue for a peaceful and democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue.
Therefore the Socialist International Women calls on member parties of the Socialist International, governments, state structures and NGOs with similar values to SIW to:
Enable women to be involved in political decision-making;
Mainstream gender perspectives in conflict resolution;
Implement a key provision of Security Council Resolution 1325 - increased participation of women at all levels of decision-making for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict;
Acknowledge that while democratic structures within the state may be absent or fledgling; the goal remains the equal inclusion of women in peace processes at all levels, from local initiatives to intergovernmental conflict resolution and
Recognise that peace and security are fundamental in achieving a democratic solution to conflict and that they can only be attained through constructive dialogue and negotiation.