Women have a unique approach to peace-building that could strengthen communities facing conflict and other challenges, found participants at a side event during Geneva Peace Week.
The World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance and Norwegian Church Aid organized a dialogue that emphasized new arenas for women’s participation in peace-building.
Studies from Norwegian Church Aid show that, in terms of gendered ways of working in Pakistan and Afghanistan, women tend to engage more in awareness-raising and family conflicts, while men tend to work with intergroup conflicts and often address authority representatives.
“Further to that, there is more emphasis on domestic conflicts with women on board, as women are more listened to as parties in conflict resolution participation,” according to Norwegian Church Aid.
Rev. Elizabeth Aya Noah Galla, from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, said that acts of revenge appear to have increased amongst communities, which means increased violence against women, inadequate health services, lack of freedom of speech, forced marriages for girls at a young age, and increased insecurity for citizens. “These are some of the factors that urged particularly female religious actors to be at the forefront of peace building,” said Galla.
Muzhgan Jalal, peacebuilding programme coordinator for Norwegian Church Aid in Afghanistan, said that women’s representation has been lacking in formal structures in Afghanistan due to cultural, traditional and religious practices. “Lately, women have been involved in peace structures and people have come to accept this,” said Jalal.
Peter Prove, World Council of Churches director for international affairs, moderated the discussion that centered on women’s new access and influence in peace-building.
“As women come to an ever-stronger place as peace-makers at all levels of society, we as a global fellowship of churches need to mindfully, consistently support them as instruments of peace,” said Prove, underlying the fact that peacebuilding processes in which women have been involved produce more sustainable and impactful results.