European Union External Action

Syria, Yemen: Women are crucial to win the peace

23/12/2018 - 06:00
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Although they pay the heaviest price of war, women are positive agents of change, not just victims. The EU hosted a High-level dialogue on "Advancing the role of Women in Peace Processes" with Syrian and Yemeni women on 4 and 5 December.

High Representative Mogherini met Syrian and Yemeni women representative of civil society organizations for a High-level dialogue on “Advancing the role of Women in Peace Processes” in Brussels on 5 of December.

Twenty prominent representatives from the two countries exchanged ideas, learning from each other's experience.

The women are already active on the ground in mediation, peace building, conflict prevention and are working to mediate between warrying groups, free detainees, bring humanitarian aid. The participants shared stories of how they convinced militias to allow schools to be reopened, how they advocated for detainees to be released, how they work to prevent kids from being actively drawn into the conflict.

"The women that I met in Brussels today are amongst the most active in their respective countries – politicians, health workers, lawyers, human rights activists; some are directly involved in the UN peace processes. They are doing an incredible work and have an incredible courage. Women can be the best agent for change: empowering them gives peace a greater chance of success", said High Representative Mogherini.

“Women spend less energy to decide whose fault it is and more to find a solution," added Mogherini.

The participants smiled and agreed. "When we talk about the conflict, we talk about the reality on the ground and the needs of the people," said one of the Syrian participants.

The discussion – another participant remarked – did not focus on women issues, but on topics that are of vital importance to the rest of the population. "We raise general issues for those who cannot push for them", said a Yemeni participant.  

The High Representative remarked how it is a priority of the EU to support women not only in areas of conflict, but also in peace processes. "You bring the reality of life," Mogherini said talking about the practical attention that women often bring to the table.

“Be it in Syria, Yemen, or wherever in the world, the EU has no other agenda than to achieve peace. We will continue to do our outmost to be at the side of the populations and of women in conflict. Once the conflicts are over, our support to empowering women in the peace processes will be transformed into support for their participation in the political processes of their countries”, said the High Representative.