Honoring Women's Important Contribution to Peace and in Creating Sustainable Environments during these Uncertain Times in the Middle East

July 6-7, 2017 - Vienna, Austria  

21st Annual Women's Conference for Peace in the Middle East: Recommendations

Over 100 women leaders met at the United Nations in Vienna July 6-7, 2017 to assess and encourage the remarkable contribution of women to peace and sustainable development. This 21st anniversary event of WFWPI hosted educators, academics, lawmakers, governments and NGO leaders from 18 MENA region countries, as well as Europe and Asia. Yet, even with the recent efforts to strengthen partnership towards these goals through international agreements such as SCRes1325 and other enabling mechanisms, progress has been slow. We witnessed a breakthrough during our deliberations when representatives of deep routed conflicts engaged in reconciliation of an unparalleled depth. By recognizing the suffering of the other with humility and trust, they opened, we believe, a model for healing and liberating the genuine goodness and desire of humanity for a culture of peace "where no one is left behind."

Building upon the momentum of this conference series on Middle East peace, we appeal to all women and girls to rise to the challenges of these uncertain times with confidence, optimism and determination by investing their combined efforts in concrete actions for the advancement of peace and human dignity. We therefore call for the creation of a "Global Women's Peace Network" and commit to a greater focus on education for peace through the following:

1. Work with the SDG's as a tool to restore human dignity, cultural pride and to engage youth in nation building and responsible global citizenship.

Action steps:

  • Make training seminars to inform youth how to work with SDG's in their nations
  • Bring together youth from different conflict zones to participate in workshops to cope with traumas and release the pain and anger

Women's role
2. Become good women, who can lead because peace begins in the human heart and grows from the bottom up and from the inside, out.

Action steps:

  • Promote women centers, even networks between nations to provide literacy programs, skills education (communication, negotiation and entrepreneurial skills)

3. Call for the inclusion of women in peace processes and conflict prevention. Women, especially mothers long for a future peace for their children and have an inherent capacity to reduce tensions and create environments conducive to peace.

Action steps:

  • Conduct scientific studies and disaggregate statistics to validate women's capacities in this field
  • Encourage and provide capacity building for more women to engage in all fields of politics

4. Call on women to advocate and work with their governments in all fields to care for their vulnerable citizens. Include men and boys.

Family based education/mother's role as an educator
5. The family is nurtured in an environment of trust and love. The family is a natural paradigm to teach and experience peace and deserves protection to function at its optimal.

Action steps:

  • Advocate to governments for the protection of the family
  • Train teachers in peace education appropriate to the local culture
  • Create a pamphlet on family to show its importance to society
  • Provide training for mothers to detect and prevent youth radicalization

Cultural approach
6. Give greater priority to literacy for all, character education and peace curricula at the earliest age and in schools. A culture of peace must be nurtured and cannot be artificially enforced.

Action steps:

  • Develop creative ways to use art, sport and cultural expression as a mean to promote peace and prevent mental and physical violence, and extremism
  • Provide peace education activities that include storytelling and the production of documentaries, etc.

7. Cultivate vibrant partnerships among civil society, with governments and other actors and provide capacity-building to successfully achieve this.
Action steps:

  • Work with national governments to implement national action plans on Security Council Resolution 1325 and other mechanism for women's empowerment.
  • Coordinate simultaneous regional and global actions among NGO's for a bigger impact.

8. Call on religious leaders to unite. Create solidarity to promote reconciliation and peace- and prevent violence.

9. Take advantage of social media platforms

Action steps:

  • Open online resource platform, share advocacy and educational tools
  • Use apps, social media (facebook, twitter, Instagram) to reach young people to help disseminate peace messages

10. Address conflict induced trauma, victims and perpetrators. Human beings
are part of a collective consciousness. Healing collective traumas is
essential for global peace.

Action step:

  • Online reservoir of stories, joint workshops in conflict zones including mental health programs (counselling, therapy services)

11. Have follow up meetings to share about developments leading to the next year's meeting.

Action step:

  • Newsletter (every 3 months)