In the Presence of Raw Courage - Riveting Roundtable Discussion on EWI’s Stronger Together Report

Agnes Venema, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, Senator Nan Orrock, Tanya Henderson

The EastWest Institute hosted a lively roundtable discussion where it launched its Stronger Together: Women Parliamentarians in Joint Action for Peace and Security report on April 29, 2014, at its New York center. The report focuses on the partnership activities that the institute’s Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention has been undertaking with Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) in consolidating international support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

State Senator Nan Orrock from Georgia, currently the president of Women Legislators' Lobby (WiLL), is a veteran of the civil rights movement, and in reflecting on the exchanges, said she felt that she was once again “in the presence of raw courage” when she heard about the stories of politicians in Afghanistan or Pakistan receiving death threats.

Two international exchanges with parliamentarians from Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Pakistan, joined by U.S. state legislators resulted in a coalition of women political leaders ready to take on the challenges of promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda both domestically as well as on international platforms.

Throughout the well-attended roundtable discussion by members from civil society organizations, representatives of governments and of UN, the issue of the National Action Plan  (NAP) came up several times. Participants pointed out that only 46 countries in the world have one and that the NAP content, when it does exist, lacks the budgeting for implementation. The countries that claim that they do not need  NAP, because they are societies that do not suffer from conflict, most often seen in the traditional sense of the word, are not recognizing a systemic problem with insidious consequences.

Ambassador Chowdhury, former Under Secretary General and High Representative of the United Nations stood at the bedrock of Resolution 1325 as the president of the UN Security Council back in 2000. He has a clear message for countries hiding behind such excuses. “No country can claim not to be in conflict if women do not have equal rights,” Ambassador Chowdury said.

As the 15th anniversary of resolution 1325 in 2015 approaches, participants want to see a seismic shift from commitments to accomplishments. This means more NAPs, more budgets to implement existing NAPs, and more innovative drafting of NAPs, rather than a listing of current activities on gender mainstreaming. It is essential that the global community works to guarantee the fundamental rights of half  the world’s population.


Photo by the EastWest Institute.

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