Global Justice

Women’s Peace Dialogue Meets for its Third Round in Burg Schlaining, Austria

Women’s Peace Dialogue Meets for its Third Round in Burg Schlaining, Austria
Women’s Peace Dialogue second round, Burg Schlaining, June 2016

United Methodist Women is currently organizing the third round of the Women’s Peace Dialogue, to be held in late June at the Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution. The event will bring together 25 women leaders from 15 Eastern European and Central Asian countries for three days of work around critical issues of peace and conflict in the region. While discussing what critical role women can play in peacebuilding as well as strategizing around regional cooperation, the women will also work to consolidate the Regional Women’s Peace Platform — a unique forum established to mobilize and connect women peace leaders across the region.

United Methodist Women started the Peace Dialogues in 2014, when conflict between Ukraine and Russia intensified. United Methodist Women saw the need for a safe space for women civil society leaders to work toward peace, and it found a formidable partner in the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations and in five regional organizations. Together, the group began working on a sustainable platform for women peace leaders in the region.

The success of the initial round of the Women’s Peace Dialogue led to a second round in 2016, which expanded to include more than 15 women peace leaders from several more countries across the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The dialogues addressed multiple conflict contexts and the needs of women in the region on a local, grassroots level.

Need for a Permanent Forum

But things didn’t stop there. United Methodist Women, its international and local partner organizations, and the participants of the second round, with the support of the Austrian government, recognized the need for a permanent forum for conflict mediation, resolution and prevention in the region. The participants made the groundbreaking decision to establish a platform, and the third round of the Dialogues will work toward its finalization.

The Women’s Peace Dialogue and its platform are unique approaches to peacebuilding in a region where conflicts seem to be both countless and plenty. While other regions have functioning networks of women ready to work in peace processes (as outlined by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security), the Eastern and Southern European and Central Asian regions have a fragmented women’s movement, resulting in a lack of progress in gender equality and in understanding women’s roles in peacebuilding.

Women in this region feel helpless, for they do not recognized their potential. There is a need for global leadership development of women in the region, so that women can begin to affect positive change in their local communities, as well as at the national and global level. The Women’s Peace Dialogue addresses this need for leadership development, while at the same time building a network of women peace activists ready to address existing or arising issues while also strengthening the women's movement in the region.

With support from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Austrian Development Agency and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the third round will feature the inclusion of women from the Balkans region, who will share their experiences as women working for peace across conflict lines. Participants of the third round will also hear from Ambassador Marie Jacobsson of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on her experience working in conflict resolution and among networks of women peacebuilders and mediators. It promises to be an exciting and empowering event.

To learn more about the Women’s Peace Dialogue and to stay updated on its activities before, during and after the third round in Austria, please visit the Peace Dialogue website and follow the Women’s Peace Dialogue on Twitter.

Tatiana Dwyer is Executive for Global Justice, Christian Social Action. Maryna Prykhodko is a Global Justice intern.

Posted or updated: 6/13/2017 12:00:00 AM