Saloni Singh • Gender Focal Point • Nepal 
 
"The experience of women and men in situations of conflict is significantly different. Most of the direct or indirect victims of conflict are women. Women can play a key role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Empowering women in conflict situations would help to prevent gender-based violence such as the abominable crimes of rape, forced pregnancy, sexual slavery and others. Moreover, history of war and conflict shows less participation of women in the war and conflict. They are by nature more peaceful and have good management skills. So increasing their role in decision making, their equal participation in the governance will promote the peace and security. Their increased representation at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms is important for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts."

Why are women key to peace and conflict prevention?

Isabella Sargsyan • Gender Focal Point • Armenia

"Conflict prevention is an underestimated component of peaceful conflict transformation in the South Caucasus. However, the recent escalation of conflict at the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact attracted attention of both local civil society and international community to the importance of conflict prevention. In our region women are very much involved in spheres of education, civic activism and civil participation which makes them instrumental in processes of conflict prevention on both local and regional levels. Although there is a small number of women in decision making positions, bodies of local governance and Parliaments, women are dominant in pre-school institutions, schools, NGOs and civic movements across Caucasus. I believe that by empowering these grass-roots women, it is possible to strengthen mechanisms of conflict prevention."

Gyung Lan Jung • Gender Focal Point • South Korea
 
"Women are half of whole population in the world. Conflicts change women's lives such as killing, injuring, sexual violence, and displacement of women. Women are important actors to make peace and prevent conflicts."

Sophie Toupin • Gender Focal Point • Canada
 
"Women are key to peace and conflict prevention for a variety of reasons of which I will highlight only two.
 
The first reason I would highlight is at the policy level. As we know, Resolution 1325 was more than the result of advocacy and lobbying from the anti-war and international women's movements. It was about the active and crucial participation of women from civil society in co-writing the resolution, a policy document that pertained to and impacted them. Women were therefore at the center of the creation of what is now being called a regime of international law that focuses on women, peace and security. Together with key policy makers, they succeeded in breaking policy monopolies. This was not only an innovative methodology, but also it enabled the reconfiguring of policy making in recognizing the central role women play at the policy level.
 
The second reason is about being able to decipher governmental decisions particularly regarding military actions. "We cannot pluck rape out of war and let the war go on. We must not make war safe for women. It is time to abolish war" (Weiss 2011). Reflecting on Cora Weiss words is crucial as Canada joins an international coalition air strikes against the Islamic State (IS). Rather than exploring other course of actions such as disarmament, negotiation, humanitarian relief, among others, our government has polarized a debate within parliament and in the public sphere as an either or proposition, a narrative reminiscent of the discourse and actions taken after 9/11.  This narrative and the polarisation of the debate is also echoed in the corporate media. At the same time as air-strikes, Canada as announced that it will contribute an amount of 10 million on "Measures to Counter ISIL's Brutal Acts of Sexual Violence" (DFATD 2014). Women involved in peace and conflict prevention know too well that military actions will produce long-term pain for vulnerable civilians already suffering in a conflict zone (Siebert 2014). Moreover, they know that in the absence of a broader political strategy to achieve a sustainable peace, war measures can in fact prolong the violence and lead to further harm (Siebert 2014). With this understanding in mind, women peace activists organise movements that enable other vital voices to be heard in addition to lobby members of parliament to attempt to prevent hasty military solutions. Women know too well that it is the military industrial complex that benefits the most from wars rather than the people most affected by conflicts."

Maja Vitas • Gender Focal Point • Serbia
 
"Women represent over 50 percent of population in the Western Balkan countries and they usually have different approach to peacebuilding and conflict prevention than men, who are most often involved in conflict prevention within the security structures. With the reform of the security sector more women are joining the security structures which was previously and traditionally more male-dominated. However, the greatest benefit from this change would be if participation of women in the security structures were strengthened with the continuous support to peace and conflict transformation education, the field to which women in Serbia and the Western Balkans have been contributing for over two decades as they make a majority among teachers and peace education specialists." 

Sajida Abdulvahabova • Gender Focal Point • Azerbaijan
 

"Women are half of every community and the tasks of peacebuilding are so great, women and men must be partners in the process of peacebuilding.

Women and men have different experiences of violence and peace, women must be allowed and encouraged to bring their unique insights and gifts to the process of peacebuilding.
 
Women and men experience conflict and violence differently. The costs of conflicts are borne disproportionately by women and children."

Visaka Dharmadasa • Gender Focal Point • Sri Lanka

"Simply because they are aware of any disagreement within the family or community. Also because: (a) They can read the pulse of the community, their natural curiosity/instinct helps them to understand how others feel, they are geared to understand a baby's cry before he/she speaks and that intuition helps them to understand others better. (b) They can reach more easily to others than men, they are also more flexible."

Paula Banerjee • Gender Focal Point • India
 
"1. Women have a different attitude to power in general from men because of their traditional distance from formal spaces of power. Therefore, women are able to negotiate for peace with little consideration for power.
2. During conflict, men often disappear from the scenes as they join the ranks of guerrillas or simply try to keep away from the public eye. Women form the majority of the civil society.  Therefore women's involvement is key to peace making.
3. In any situation of displacement, women can be found in large numbers.  In any efforts at peacemaking the people who are driven out due to conflict become crucial.  Unless their voices are heard no conflict can be resolved.  From the time of the Palestinian conflict through to present day Afghanistan this has been proved to be a reality.
4. No conflict can go on without the support of the women.  They lubricate the supply chain of all conflicting groups.  Therefore for conflict prevention they need to be convinced and then they can convince their men.
5. In any conflict situation the women suffer the most.  They see their hard work coming to knot, their sons die, their bodies dishonoured and their souls traumatized.  It therefore stands to reason that generally women prefer to end conflict to keep their families intact.  Therefore, any group that wants to work on conflict prevention find women as their natural allies.
6. Even UN recognizes the role of women in peace and hence the UNSCR 1325, 1820 and others."

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls • Gender Focal Point • Fiji
 
"Without women there will not be equity in any peacebuilding strategies including prevention. Women are key because they also bring insights and knowledge from their personal and community level which should inform strategies whether it is youth related violence or counter terrorism measures. Women also are key to defining development practice which will also prevent conflicts over resources whether it is land or water or energy and disaster risk responses."