Women and Peace Building in the Great Lakes Region

Date/Location: Tuesday, June 4, 2013; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku, Women’s Civil Society in Uganda; Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict; Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland-Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region; Joe Costello, Ireland’s Minister of State and Development

Attended by: Norah L. Crossnohere, Sunny T.C. Hor, Marli Kasdan, Mary C.Y. Lam, Janice H.W. Wong

Social progression in The Great Lakes Region of Africa has long been paralyzed by recurring cycles of violence and conflict. Particularly in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, such turmoil has created devastating results, perhaps the most horrific of which is the prevalence of rape that is frequently employed, with impunity, by lower-level government officials on local women and girls.

According to Ms. Hawa Bangura, while rape has traditionally been thought of as an unacceptable but inevitable facet of gender discrimination, it is today being recognized as a fundamental indicator of a country’s peace and security. Although attitudes surrounding the underlying significance of rape are changing, societies perception of rape survivors is not; all too commonly, women are pitied, rather than taken seriously as advocates for change.

In order to halt such a cycle, “A Framework of Hope” was created in February 2013 to address the root causes of conflict in eastern DRC and the surrounding region. The Framework aims to foster cooperation between DRC and neighboring states, as well as to create national, regional and international responses to the conflict.

Unlike any previous peace building measures, Framework for Hope places women at the core of peace processes and emphasizes the importance of women being their own champions, which may be done by increasing the number of women holding leadership positions in both governmental and non-governmental posts. By advocating for such changes, the Framework fosters bottom-up influence while still maintaining top-down accountability.The World Bank has put together a $1 billion package to support the Framework, however Ms. Robinson is still looking for suggestions and support for a to how to best create a safe space for women of the region to speak out.

Live from the conference;

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Edited By: Wayne Dean Doyle 

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