|After three years of horrendous fighting, a death toll now exceeding 130,000
and more than seven million Syrians forced to leave their homes, Syrian
peace talks will finally take place in Switzerland on January 22, 2014.
Launched by a coalition of international organizations including CODEPINK,
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, MADRE and Nobel
Women’s Initiative, the Women Lead to Peace Campaign is calling for
the active participation of Syrian women in the Geneva II peace talks.
The perspectives and priorities of Syrian women must be reflected in
any political settlement of the conflict. This is true not only because
women represent half the population, but because their contributions to
reconciliation and community-based recovery efforts are both substantial
and essential to lasting peace.
The Syrian women are already contributing to the peacebuilding process
and are active in building ceasefire arrangements, humanitarian work,
providing education and health care. Their knowledge of the local situation
and conditions is vital to understanding how any agreements can be made
The Syrian women understand the community dynamics within both a local
and international context. They possess a deep understanding of the local
situation both in terms of key players and brokered peace agreements between
communities in Syria. Of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees, more than 80%
are women and their children. On every side of the conflict, violence
against women - including detention, rape, torture - continues to be used
as a weapon of war.
Since the Syrian civil society must implement any decisions arrived at
in the Geneva II peace talks, the presence of women will better inform
and broker a viable, peaceful result or a “deep peace” in Syria.
UN Resolution 1325 states that the United Nations must recognize the
important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts
and promote their equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote
of peace and security. Women Lead to Peace is calling on Lakhdar Brahimi,
the UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, to ensure that this mandate
is implemented at the Syrian peace talk table. International leadership
in the negotiating process must also provide the appropriate support Syrian
women’s groups need to participate effectively and ensure that all
delegations involved in the negotiations have senior women mediators and
Women have played major roles in lasting peace building in Northern Ireland,
Liberia, Bosnia, Guatemala and many other countries; some of them will
share their experience at the Women Lead to Peace Summit on January 21.