“We do not need more resolutions, what we need is implementation. And this starts by listening to and working with women who are taking action”, emphasized EU Ambassador Olof Skoog after welcoming the distinguished speakers and audience.
Helga Schmid, EEAS Secretary-General joined the Ambassador in expressing her admiration for the brave Syrian women, while also drawing attention to the UNSC Resolution 1325 that firmly acknowledges the critical role of women in building peace. “I am exceptionally proud that we, as EU, have been at the forefront of supporting the implementation of this important resolution,” she underlined in her keynote speech.
Among the speakers were internationally renowned Syrian women such as Dr Baasma Kodmani, a prominent Syrian politician and founding member of the Syrian National Council, and Dr Amani Ballour, a Syrian doctor who worked in an underground hospital in Eastern Ghouta and who was awarded the Council of Europe 2020 Raoul Wallenberg Prize for exceptional humanitarian actions. Drawing attention to the issue of gender-based violence and women’s access to essential services, Ballour underlined: “I represent many women, those who struggle, who have died, who are suffering.“ Kodmani critically outlined the significant underrepresentation of women in the Syrian peace process and called for the implementation of concrete measures such as gender quotas, supported by the international community.
Three grassroots activists from different regions in Syria shared their experiences from their work on the ground, including hopeful and inspiring examples of concrete actions in empowering Syrian women. At the same time, they illustrated the daily struggle that women face in the ongoing conflict, forcing many to leave their homes. “The international community should not close its eyes to the suffering of the Syrian people, but ensure accountability for committed war crimes,” said the young activist Lina Shamy, who documented the siege of her hometown Aleppo. All women agreed: “Women in Syria are not victims but real changemakers, and peace cannot be achieved until their true participation is achieved.”
EU Ambassador Walter Stevens closed the event by thanking the women for sharing their brave stories and experiences: "There can be no peace in Syria unless women are at the negotiation table. The EU remains fully committed to ensure women's meaningful participation in the peace process."
Through (virtual) events like this one, but also through the support of many women and feminist organizations on the ground, the EU has invested extensively to empower Syrian female peacemakers and amply the voices of at the international level. The Gaziantep Women Platform, for example, is an initiative that includes over 40 grassroots female peacebuilders who are being actively trained to play an active leadership role in the political process and connects them with the negotiating process in Geneva.
Watch the discussion here: https://fb.watch/1qnMsCfrn0/