Women Peacemakers Program WWP

Linked with Elmi Asha Hagi Amin – Somalia, with Gender as a Tool in Building Peace, with Women defending Peace Conference, with Somalia – profiles, facts and reports, and with Save Somali Women and Children SSWC.

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) believes that without peace, development is impossible, and without women, neither peace nor development can take place.

IFOR’s Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) began in 1997 and works to support and strengthen women’s peacemaking initiatives.

The WPP believes that programs that specifically empower women peacemakers, and encourage women and girls to become involved in peacebuilding and civil society building, are essential for development.

WPP’s objective is to increase the empowerment of women through active nonviolence. This is accomplished through an annual international training for nonviolence trainers, regional consultations for women in conflict situations, gender and nonviolence trainings, workshops on using the media for peace, campaigns such as the annual May 24 International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, and through the documentation of women’s peace initiatives. (See Homepage).

Project of International Fellowship Of Reconciliation: ifor.org:
One part of this Women Peacemakers Program WWP project concerns Somalia, named Anonymous – Somalia. Description:

Later in 2002, 50 Somali women undertook training in negotiation skills and the provisions of 1325 in order to take part in the IGAD peace process. Thanks to their efforts, for the first time in Somali history women were officially included in peace negotiations. The women of Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC) played a major role this success.

SSWC was the first Somali cross-clan organization, said co-founder Asha Haji Elmi. “We began in 1992, after two years of civil war. This first initiative came from women in cross-clan marriages,” she said, citing bitter personal experience. “I was divided in two. My birth clan rejected me because my husband was from a clan they were fighting. My husband’s clan considered me a spy and a stranger. Where do I belong? I realized the only identity no one could take away from me was being a woman. My only clan is womanhood.”

Meeting across clan lines was revolutionary—and dangerous. “For the first six months we couldn’t say that our objective was peace. People were suspicious of us for several years, because we wanted to use women as a bridge for peace. We wanted to unite Somali women as one and to have one voice towards peace. Some war lords tried to destroy and divide us. They are the same ones who realize only God can stop us, so now they shake our hand.”

During the first Somali Peace and Reconciliation conference in 2002, only men were recognized as official delegates. This was because only representatives of Somalia’s five clans were allowed as official members to the talks—and traditionally only men represent the clan. The small cross-clan group of women Asha Haji Elmi led to the talks was denied a platform as they were not official clan representatives. The women responded by demanding a place in the negotiations as representatives of Somalia’s sixth clan—the clan of women. The sixth clan was officially recognized, and the women were able to get a quota in the final resolution for women in government. Today, for the first time in Somali history, there are 22 Somali women in Parliament.

Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC) continues to work for peace. The women have managed to reopen some of the no-go streets in parts of Mogadishu. In the past walking or driving down such streets meant risking death at the hands of snipers or a war lord’s patrols. Now there is safe access to Bender Hospital, the main pediatrics hospital. Closed for eight years, the hospital is again open. SSWC is now conducting the Somali Give Peace a Chance campaign, which uses “the extensive women’s networks to encourage communities to support the top-down peace initiatives” of the transitional government. (See other projects on ifor.org).

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