Women’s involvement in peace processes through partnership with religious and traditional actors
Brief summary of presentation of information made
Director, Religion and Inclusive Societies, United States Institute of Peace
Gender Advisor, Mediation Support Unit, UN Department of Political Affairs
Executive Vice President, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy
Mavic Cabrera Balleza
International Coordinator, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
When looking at conflict religion cannot be ignored. May be a positive or negative influence on peace-building
Accepted norm for peace building actors is secular men, the religious & women are often marginalized in the process.
When faith actors are involved it is usually from a Western perspective and therefore Christian.
Research shows that peace building with women’s involvement results in more effective and sustainable peace outcomes
Women often not at the table but are in the background working at grass roots level
When involving the religious communities usually engage with the male religious leadership. Need to recognize authoritarian leadership is not only leadership in religious communities. Can be complex and religions other than Christianity often have more complex leadership structures.
Religious perspectives can be highly diverse even within one faith and are influenced by other factors such as education, class or poverty. There is a need for increased religious literacy and understanding from international actors.
Women are generally more religious than men and often find the resources to look after their families and communities during conflict, in their religions.
Empowerment for their leadership is justified from within their religion.
The women need to have knowledge and understanding of their own scriptures to be recognized as leaders
In order to build peace we need to address a culture of violence- in Columbia 60% of violence is intrafamilial.
Barriers to peace cannot be ignored, the change for peace is a trigger within the community-an internal change agent. These agents often pay the highest price.
Incorporating women into existing structures can fail to change discriminatory structures.
60% of basic humanitarian work comes from faith-based organisations.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
- The inter-relationship between Peace building, religion and gender is complex.
- Greater understanding of this interplay is likely to improve peace building outcomes.
- Ignoring women and religion is likely to hinder the peace making process.