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Women's Contributions To Peace Recognized

 TOKYO  -- The United Nations University (UNU) hosted a seminar entitled "Women Making Peace: Where Are We Now? Maximizing the Impact of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 10 Years On" on September 8, assessing global progress toward implementation of the groundbreaking resolution which calls for increased recognition of and support for the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflict.

Co-organized with Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW), Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG), the seminar consisted of a morning experts' meeting, a public forum and a book launch.

While celebrating the achievements of women at the grassroots in situations from Africa to the Middle East, participants found it unacceptable that in the ten years since the resolution was passed, only 19 Member States have submitted National Action Plans toward implementation of the resolution. The need to improve accountability and introduce clear indicators of progress was unanimously agreed.

A message from Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of UN ESCAP and the former Executive Director of UNIFEM, reminded participants that the resolution offers the chance of greater protection for those who are the most vulnerable, the most invisible, and who have the greatest stake in peace.

Kayo Maeta, Chair of the Soka Gakkai Women's Peace Committee, explained SGI's motivation in supporting the seminar, saying, "In an effort to realize the essential spirit of UNSCR 1325, toward the creation of a culture of peace in which women's full potential is realized in all corners of society, as a civil society organization, we have engaged in community-based efforts to raise public awareness."

Dr. Jasmin N. Galace, Associate Director of the Center for Peace Education at Miriam College in the Philippines, shared how the process of researching and producing a National Plan of Action brought together women's groups and government agencies and created new opportunities for women.

International human rights lawyer Mikiko Otani added that 1325 is not only relevant to countries directly involved in conflict. The empowerment of women is vital in every country, as peace is only possible when there is equal participation of men and women.

This theme was echoed in a message from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, who stated: "the underlying message of the Resolution is that … the viewpoints and voices of women, which to date have not been given adequate attention, must be heeded and reflected in decision-making processes throughout society."

Sarah Taylor, Executive Coordinator of the NGO Working Group, emphasized that the particular experiences of women need to be brought into every debate concerning peace and security. Participants agreed that the ultimate goal should be to build cultures of peace, where women and men are empowered to speak out and take action to address abuses and resolve disputes wherever they occur.

The book "Promoting Women's Participation in Conflict & Post-Conflict Societies: How women worldwide are making & building peace," which highlights the contributions of women in peace negotiations, political participation and security sector reform, was also introduced by coauthors Kavitha Suthanthiraraj and Cristina Ayo. The book, produced by GAPW, the NGOWG and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, can be obtained from coordinator@globalactionpw.org.

Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a Buddhist association with over 12 million members worldwide. Its activities to promote peace, culture, education and empowerment are based on the longstanding traditions of Buddhist humanism.



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