The Route to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, Peace Boat US volunteers had the opportunity to sit in on a gender panel titled “Transitional Justice as Transformative: Building a Sustainable Peace for All” at the United Nations. This was a series hosted by the United Arab Emirates focusing on women, peace, and security.

The meeting was opened by remarks from Mrs. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh (Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN), Jan Eliasson (Deputy Secretary-General of the UN), and Zainab Hawa Bangura (Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict). Their speeches centered on sexual violence and the ways that women are systematically targeted during times of conflict. Moreover, they addressed the absence of women in peace operations and highlighted the necessity of achieving gender equality to increase women’s inclusion within these procedures.

Other subjects discussed were transitional, transformative, and reparative justice for women as a way to reinforce rule of law in post-conflict societies. Distinguished panelist, Ilwad Elman, the Director of Programs and Development at Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, boldly stated, “Impunity is institutionalized… Government is ill-equipped to respond to gender injustice.” This powerful message reminded participants that we must work to break the cycle of gender-based discrimination and improve the status of women worldwide.

Ilwad Elman (left) speaking with Peace Boat US intern (right).

Ilwad Elman (left) speaking with Peace Boat US intern (right).

As Mayesha Alam, Associate Director of Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security appropriately quoted, “The personal is political.” There is still much that needs to be done to ensure that violence against women ends and women are recognized as valuable and equal citizens. Peace Boat is supportive of this movement and understands the importance of addressing division and inequality in order to achieve sustained peace.  Peace Boat has organized educational programs and events on board the ship that speak to gender-related issues. For example on the 80th Global Voyage, the organization had a series of events that looked at Salvadorian women’s struggle for freedom and equality.  In other occasions, Peace Boat has invited women from different regions of Colombia to join an onboard gender forum or supported fair trade projects to empower women in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan.  Thus, as we continue our progress in raising awareness on the plight of women, let us work to ensure that women are protected and empowered.

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