Creating a Culture of Peace for Our Children

May 16-19, 2005 - Athens, Greece
Culture-of-Peace/Middle-East-Conferences/Greece-2005
By: Carolyn Handschin

9th Annual Women's Conference for Peace in the Middle East

The Women's Federation for World Peace International together with Women's Federation for World Peace - Japan held their annual Women's Conference for Peace in the Middle East on May 16-19, 2005 in a tranquil and picturesque setting along the sea coast just outside of Athens, Greece. The issue of this year's conference was chosen in order to address the gaps between the goals and vision for the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for our Children (2001-2010) and their implementation at this mid-term mark with hopes of reinvigorating the process. In attendance were thirty nine women leaders from 15 Middle Eastern countries and Palestine including ministers, congresswomen and experts in the fields of education, youth, development, human rights and law, government and non-governmental relations, communications and media, finance, health and environment.

The conference chair, Dr. Lan Young Moon Park, the president of WFWPI, invited the participants during the sessions to consider how to institutionalize a culture of peace on the family level as an accessible means to generate future leaders who would expect and promote the same for the societies that they influence. H.E. In'am Al-Mufti, Congresswoman in the Jordanian Upper House and conference co-chair reminded all in attendance that creating a culture of peace is the responsibility of parents, teachers and all society. Guest speaker, Dr. Illias Liberis, Chief Programme Officer of UNICEF, Greece added that children are always seen as victims, not part of the solution and that this conference was a powerful and timely reminder to world leaders of the significance that a culture of peace could and should have on the lives of children.

Some of the issues dealt with were: defining dignity as a standard, the role of reconciliation, the role of women in nation building, advocacy on the Plan of Action for the Culture of Peace towards Middle Eastern governments, enhancing the special capacities of women in the ME due to religious and cultural traditions and norms, identifying the core universal values while respecting the local ones, considering children's contribution to world peace, 'family' peace as the foundation for 'world' peace, mobilizing to heal the wounds of war, mother's/family's role in training future women leaders. How can the constraints to women's empowerment be addressed by solidarity among women achievers? How can women harness the power of communications and media towards a culture of peace? The most pressing and most deliberated issue was how best to educate children to give them a basis for good moral judgment and accessibility to the tools and mechanisms needed to generate peaceful lives and lifestyles.

One participant, a relentless advocate for Kuwaiti women's rights, brought the historic news to the conference of the successful vote, held that same day, giving Kuwaiti women the right to be elected to Parliament and the right to vote for the first time.

Determined to advance the conclusions with conviction and consensus, delegates adopted the Athen's Declaration and Plan of Action: Middle-Eastern Women for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. Attendees of the conference closed with a spirit of determination, solidarity and an agenda to move forward until the next conference.