PEACETALK: Women. Period. Seriously. Exclamation Point.

(Speech delivered by Irene M. Santiago of the Mindanao Commission on Women, the lead convener of #Women Seriously campaign during the launch in London)

LONDON (MindaNews / 14 June) — A couple of years ago I was invited to speak at a panel entitled, “New Ways to End Old Wars.” I began by saying that I didn’t want to speak on that topic. Instead, I said, I would speak about “Old Ways NOT TO BEGIN new wars.”

And this is why we are gathered here today to launch Women. Period. Seriously. Exclamation Point. The Global Campaign on Women, Peace and Security.

The “old ways” are women’s ways. We persuade, we cajole, we lobby. We argue. We even cry. Oh yes, we do. Sometimes we are silent: I am convinced women devised the term “keep your peace.” We know how to pause. A woman must have created the pregnant pause, don’t you think? Yes, we arrange and re-arrange so that there is harmony, happiness, life! And isn’t this what peace work is all about? Arranging and re-arranging so that there is harmony, happiness, life?

But how did we get to this?I will refrain from citing the statistics all of you in this room have heard — because, thanks to UN Women and Anne Marie Goetz and her team, we have all been using the same statistics about the absence of women in negotiations and all that.

Today is not about the dire statistics. It is about the impetus for life lived connected to one another as a family of communities and nations rooted in women’s capacity to give and nurture the life of all living beings!

It is what propelled the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to work on peace relentlessly, already 100 years next year.

It was the pulse that kept beating in the hearts of those who pushed Resolution 1325 through the male bastion that is called the Security Council almost 15 years ago.

It was the incandescent dream that made us get up in the morning every day, despite all the odds, to keep on moving forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the NGO Forum on Women in China, almost 20 years ago.

2015 is the 100th anniversary of WILPF, the 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325 and the 20th anniversary of Beijing. It is a time of commemorations. We will no longer be, as Elise Boulding said, the underside of history. My favorite campaign video says it better than I ever can: “History, they say, is a bad motorist. It rarely ever signals its intentions when it’s taking a turn. This is that rarely ever moment. History is turning a page.”

And we here, believe it or not, will make that history happen through the 16 months of this campaign.   No more waiting. Yes, it’s time! Women. Period. Seriously. Exclamation Point. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her piece on peace in Mindanao. Irene Santiago is Chair Emerita and Chief Executive Officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women)