Why can peace not be achieved without women?

Why can peace not be achieved without women?

Finally, the “Wise Men” debate has taken a form that does not exclude women, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan adopting the “Wise People” phrase the other day.

Certain names have been mentioned but there is no sign that there will be gender equality at the Wise People Commission.

To be able to explain how important it is that women have a say during the peace process, it is good to take a look at “world examples” submitted at the meeting of the Women’s Initiative for Peace. I am writing this piece in light of the data provided by the meticulous research conducted by Associate Professor Nazan Üstündağ from the Sociology Department of Bosphorus University.

Üstündağ examined 102 peace processes conducted across the world between the years 1990 and 2012 from the angle of women’s participation. According to this research, only 8 percent of those who actively took part in these peace processes were women.

UN decision: Not without women

Üstündağ reminds us of the United Nations Security Council resolution in 2000, which came as a result of the struggle that women carried out against this exclusion:

According to this resolution, women should be a part of the entire process, including peace negotiations and talks. All peace agreements should contain articles providing for the safety of women and girls, because at those tables occupied by only men, unfortunately, this does not happen.

Despite this, an increase in the representation of women at peace talks has not quite been achieved.

In peace talks in North Ireland, the representation of women was 10 percent. In the South African Truth Commissions, the rate of women was 50 percent. On the other hand, research conducted all over the world shows that in the case where women and civil society are not included, peace becomes “troubled.”

These troubles are proof that peace cannot be achieved healthily without women. Because, in society, there are ongoing feelings of meaninglessness (Why have so many people have died?), betrayal (What have we fought for?), and suppression.

Women as sides in war

Another dreadful piece of data: In those cases where gender equality cannot be achieved in legal platforms, violence against women increases.

Also, in those peace processes where women are excluded, no basis is provided for compensation of social losses created by war.

As Üstündağ said: “Women are interested in how the wounds opened by war will be healed and how daily life will be facilitated to accommodate the oppressed, rather than how to dominate on which territory and with what tools.”

As you see, women demand being included in the peace process not only because they want to defend women’s rights, or because they were the victims of war, but because they are a side in the war.

In short, experience shows that it is not easy to spread peace to society. If women and various sections are not included, it remains fragile and deficient.

My call to everybody who supports this peace is that women should not be left with their tears, and that they should be listened to. This is for all of us, especially for the health of future generations.

Women did their own peace

* In Latin America and in Africa, women are struggling to play a larger role in both politics and in peace talks. “This is not just a formality battle,” Üstündağ said. “On the contrary, when women are included in the establishment of peace, then the essence of the accords changes.”

* An example from Kenya: The representation of women both among mediators and participants is 25 percent. This was achieved after the U.N. and UNIFEM set this figure as a condition.

* In Sudan, women were included in the process, by taking part in official delegations and in their own peace talks, as well as by organizing their own conferences.

* In Burundi, women who were excluded from the peace process organized their own peace talks. Women from various sides agreed on a draft. When war re-erupted in Burundi, women continued negotiating. When official peace talks re-opened, the draft that was prepared by women was adopted as a basis.

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared on April 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

MEHVEŞ EVİN - mehves.evin@milliyet.com.tr