Women’s Leadership in Peace Building

 

“There is no peace without development, and no development without peace – and neither peace, nor sustainable development without the active participation of women in both processes.” - Rosa Emilia Salamanca, Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE), Colombia.

Women have always played key roles in armed conflict, be it as nurses, care givers, combatants or workers. Women also contribute to peace in a multitude of ways. Yet these contributions often go unrecognized and remain undervalued because they take place outside official, high-level forums, or because they do not fit with activities traditionally associated with peacebuilding.

As a result, skills, insights and energy are overlooked; and a misleading image of women as mere victims of conflict, and passive beneficiaries of interventions, prevails.

To celebrate achievements made by women in various disciplines, as well as raising awareness to readdress the gaps that remain in our society, a march for women in leadership was organized on Women’s Day (8th of March 2013) in the village of Walewale, Ghana. The march was organized by the Langum Women’s Association in collaboration with the International Volunteers from Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) and the Peace Corps.

The march commenced from the Walewale local hospital at 8:00 AM heading for the District assembly, with an approximate distance of 5 km. The march involved more than 100 people from various domains including school children, Government officials as well as other members of the community.

Moreover, considering the importance of the issue, the local band volunteered to play while the participants sang, clapped, danced and chanted slogans for the promotion of women’s role in positions of leadership. The participants brought many messages to the event regarding women and girls’ empowerment and it was also an opportunity to underscore the need for political commitment to accelerate action to achieve gender equality called for in the millennium development goals.

The march ended at 10:00 AM at the District Assembly, where the appointed District Governor of Walewale delivered a speech to the audience on the importance of having women leaders, and stressed that their contributions to peace processes need to be acknowledged with greater financial and political support. The other members of the Assembly also put emphasis on the relevance of providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes to fuel sustainable economies and benefit Ghanaian society and humanity at large.

The entire march was recorded by the local TV channel and was also broadcasted live by the radio stations.

Overall, the success of the march was not just limited to creating awareness of women’s role in leadership but a tradition began to conduct the march every year on the occasion of Women’s Day.

 

By: Ankur Mahajan

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