Press Release: No peace in the region without women’s meaningful participation, say women leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018

(Vienna, 13 September 2018) – Without meaningful inclusion of women, there can never be a lasting solution to armed conflicts, and as a result, no sustainable development. This is the message behind the Regional Conference on Women, Peace and Security in South Caucasus, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, UN Women and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with support from the Austrian Development Agency and from the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria in its current capacity as the President of the Council of the European Union.

This message resonates strongly in Central and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, where the lingering impacts of unresolved conflicts continue to disrupt people’s lives—especially local populations.

The Conference brought together over 60 representatives of national governments, civil society organizations from across the region, as well as regional and international organizations to discuss the strategies for better implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the supporting resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS)---particularly in terms of safeguarding women’s inclusion and meaningful participation in peace and security decision-making in the regions.

Participants include Melanne Verveer, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Gender; Cristina Lesnic, Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova and chief negotiator in the peace process between Moldova and Transdniestria; Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia; George Tuka, Deputy Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine; and Edita Tahiri, Chair of the Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice.

The conference gave voice to women who have played key roles in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It provided the space for women leaders to discuss their experiences in effecting peace and in improving their countries’ security environment.

“Behind the scenes, women have been crossing lines and building peace throughout Europe and Central Asia,” said Sabine Freizer, UN Women Regional Adviser for Peace and Security. “From Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Ukraine and Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, women are coming together to defend common interests and advance women’s equality in support of sustainable peace,” Freizer added.

Women play a key role in building peace and preventing violent conflicts. This is the message that UNSCR 1325 conveyed 18 years ago, and that has been reinforced by seven subsequent resolutions. The UN Secretary General has himself pointed out that gender equality is key to resilience and the prevention of conflict.

“After the wars, it is the women's rights and peace activists who pick up the pieces and mend the social fabric torn apart by violence. Many years later, it is still them who find the solutions to address the lingering impact of conflict” according to Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. “Women in Europe and Central Asia have demonstrated that they are central to ensuring a just and lasting peace. Their contributions should be recognized, and their demands to participate in all levels of mediation, conflict prevention and peacebuilding should be supported," said Cabrera-Balleza.

The WPS agenda advances women’s roles in peacebuilding and decision-making. It recognizes that women are not helpless victims in conflict. On the contrary, they are often leaders working towards peace, stability, and prevention of more violence. At the regional level, the agenda provides a framework for the meaningful inclusion of women in peace negotiations in Ukraine, Moldova, South-East Europe and the South Caucasus.

Participants of the Conference also identified priorities and recommendations for the region ahead of the 20th anniversary of the UNSCR 1325 in 2020. These will be taken forward through the advocacy at the local, national and regional level.

Martin Ledolter, LL.M., Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) highlighted that the ADA is “fully committed to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and its follow-up resolutions – both in our partner countries and on a global scale.” He added, “We are a proud partner of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, where we are working together to achieve more gender equality in peacebuilding and decision-making and, ultimately, put the resolutions into action.”