Mindanawon leads global campaign on Women, Peace and Security

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 June) –The lead convener in the Global Campaign on Women, Peace and Security dubbed “#Women Seriously” and launched in London on June 12 is a Mindanawon: Irene Santiago of the Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW), who conceived the idea for the campaign.

This is Santiago’s second global campaign after 1995 when she was executive director of the NGO Forum on Women in China in 1995, which ran parallel to the United Nations’ 4th World Conference on Women.

Santiago, Chair Emerita and Chief Executive Officer of the MCW, was a member of the government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from 2001 to early 2004.

“#Women Seriously” was scheduled for launching at the Discussion Room 4, ExCel, London at 4 to 5 p.m. (11 p.m.to 12 midnight Philippine time, June 12).

The launching coincides with the three-day Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom. The Summit opened June 11 with actress Angeline Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who co-chairs the Summit with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

A campaign brief from “Women Seriously” said it is intended to be a “broad-based movement of informed and concerned citizens – from civil society, government, international institutions, academia, and the private sector – who believe that women are indispensable to peace and who recognize that women are more than just victims in conflict, they are agents of change, representing untapped potential for creating a more peaceful, secure, and just world.”

The campaign intends to use social media to mobilize “thousands, if not millions, of people to propel the women, peace and security agenda forward.”

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women and the parallel NGO Forum in Beijing, the 15th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, and Peace and Security, the end of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and the beginning of the post-2015 development agenda, both of which prominently include the empowerment of women.

Santiago’s co-conveners are eminent leaders from around the world: Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury of Bangladesh, who put women, peace and security on the Security Council Agenda and was president of the Council at the time of UNSCR1325’s passage; Ambassador Swanee Hunt, former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and founder and chair of The Institute for Inclusive Security; Ambassador Melanne Verveer, inaugural U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and currently executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Baroness Mary Goudie, senior member of the British House of Lords and member of the board of Vital Voices and the Global Advisory Board of WEConnect; Ms. Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, director of gender and development UNDP, and former Ugandan Member of Parliament; Ms. Ruth-Gaby Vermot, co-president of PeaceWomen Across the Globe, and former member of Swiss National Council and Council of Europe; Ms. Luz Mendez, former negotiator of Guatemala peace talks and vice president of National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG) executive board; Ms. Madeleine Rees, secretary general, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); and Ms. Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace 
Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia, Liberia.

The campaign brief said the social media campaign will target youth, NGOs and women-led enterprises to engage in individual and collective actions. “Women’s Peace Tables” will also be set up across the globe “and will come together in five conflict-affected countries to share strategies for bringing about positive change and to increase the visibility of women’s experience in negotiating peace.”

In April 2015, an Experts Workshop of Women, Peace and Security will be convened to
“assess the progress made by the campaign, to create a manifesto for policy and action that will be submitted to the U.N. General Assembly, and chart the course for sustainable and equitable peace worldwide.”

The campaign also intends to hold dialogues at the UN and celebrate Beijing+20.