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Linking Bosnian Post-Conflict Learnings to Syria

As part of enhancing women’s meaningful participation in political life, WILPF organised a two-day meeting in Berlin on the 19-20 February 2019 bringing together 23 women civil society leaders and political activists from Syria and Bosnia, to discuss and analyse political economy in conflict and post-conflict.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
1 May 2019

As part of enhancing women’s meaningful participation in political life, WILPF organised a two-day meeting in Berlin on the 19-20 February bringing together 23 women civil society leaders and political activists from Syria and Bosnia. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and analyse political economy in conflict and post-conflict, with a specific focus on how Syrian peace activists and civil society leaders can use the post-conflict learnings from Bosnia.

Laila Alodaat, WILPF MENA Director.
Laila Alodaat, WILPF MENA Director. Photo credit: Charlotte Hooij

From Bosnia to Syria

Cover of WILPF's "Feminist Perspective on Post-Conflict Restructuring and Recovery: the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina"

Feminist civil society leaders, activists from Syria, members of the Syrian Women Political Movement, and Bosnian activists were in attendance, and were able to strategise and learn from the Bosnian context.

The Bosnian activists present at the meeting have, for several years, analysed the political economy of post-conflict reconstruction in Bosnia from a feminist perspective and have co-authored the report on the topic.

The analysis derived from the work in Bosnia was used as insights and examples into the potential effects of the international and local political economy of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction and recovery interventions; and as an inspiration to the Syrian participants for how feminist analysis of political economy can be done and its added value for the work they are implementing.

On the first day, the Bosnian feminist activists gave an introduction on feminist political economy and presented the Bosnian case study, followed by a presentation of the Syrian partners’ work to feed into the large framework of political and human rights developments in Syria. The workshop also included an exercise to define the broad political economy environment in Syria and a presentation of the findings.

The majority of the second day was assigned to providing a space to discuss and analyse issues related to feminist political economy in Syria, this included topics such as sanctions, reparations, reconstruction and investment, and aid. Participants tackled aims, priorities, and the principles that need to be taken into consideration, as well as relevant actors for each of the four topics.

Passing the message

WILPF brought parts of the discussion as recommendations that were submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s 40th session in a written statement. This statement has been accepted as an official submission and is now within UN records.

Oula Ramada from Badael.
Oula Ramada from Badael. Photo credit: Charlotte Hooij

The meeting was very interactive, and a great starting ground for discussing how to utilise a feminist political economy analysis. It provided space for partners to steer the discussion to make sure it fits their needs, and was utilised as an opportunity to network and coordinate.

About the Meeting

The meeting took place at a partner’s office, and video conferencing option was made available for partners who were unable to join in person.

The safe space provided an excellent ground for exchange of experiences, learning and solidarity, and an opportunity for partners to present and discuss the research, consultations and grassroots work they are carrying out and how it relates to political economy.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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