It is hard to pick the top five moments from 2015 – because we really have so many more! We are energized and inspired by the resilience and creativity of women and women’s movements around the globe. Even as we came together this past spring to mark the very limited implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security—now 15 years old—we celebrated the growing momentum of grassroots action to build a nonviolent world with equal rights for all. Thanks to all of you for showing world leaders that sustainable change is driven by people power!
1. Joining survivors and women human rights defenders shattering the silence and stigma around sexual violence in Colombia
In February Nobel laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi traveled to Colombia alongside members of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict for the #SurvivorsUnited delegation. We met with survivors of sexual violence and women-led initiatives providing support to them on the ground and advocating for justice. During the delegation Colombian President Santos agreed to bring the topic of sexual violence to the peace negotiations in Cuba. Following the delegation Nobel Laureate Jody Williams and others wrote an open letter to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) calling for them to come to an agreement with the Colombian government to demine the country. Shortly after, Colombia made a landmark decision to work together with the FARC to demine rural areas of the country.
2. Building strategies to better protect women human rights defenders who bravely challenge the status quo worldwide
In April we brought together over 120 fearless women activists at Defending the Defenders! Building Global Support for Women Human Rights Defenders conference. Led by Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee, Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, we built networks of solidarity, and strategized how the international community can better protect women human rights defenders. The Nobel laureates also took the stage to kick off the Women Stop War conference – the 100th anniversary celebration of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom held in The Hague.
3. Witnessing the incredible power of young women activists to bring creative, innovative solutions to women’s rights
In August, Neesa Medina (Honduras), Htet Htet Aung (Burma) and Riya William (South Sudan) joined us in Ottawa for the 2015 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship program. Over the course of six weeks, these three remarkable young women leaders collaborated with local and international partners, spoke to the media about their work, and urged decision makers to bring peace and protect women human rights defenders in their countries. Neesa, Htet Htet and Riya have since returned home to put to use the skills they gained from each other, and the program.
4. Traveling alongside women fleeing war to learn about their experiences on the route through the Balkans to Germany
In November, Nobel peace laureates Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams led a delegation of human rights experts to meet with Syrian women seeking refuge from war. From Serbia to Croatia, Slovenia and Germany the Opening Borders: #WomenRefugeesWelcome delegation stood in solidarity with women-led grassroots groups working around the clock to support the thousands of Syrian women fleeing to safety. We were heartened by the example of women in Syria and the Syrian diaspora who have been working for decades to make Syria more democratic and ensure that Syrian women are included in the peace process.
5. Celebrating victory with climate activists when the Obama administration rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline
In November, we joined the chorus of other climate activists applauding US President Obama’s decision to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The Nobel laureates have previously written high profile public letters to Obama urging him to reject the controversial pipeline on moral grounds given the growing destruction caused globally by climate change. We are proud to stand in the company of the brave, determined activists who dedicated years of energy, creativity, and resources to this struggle – and are thrilled to declare victory!