By Tina Dolgopol
20 April , International Gender Justice Dialogue
Where to begin? The speakers are knowledgeable, committed and able to inspire. A recurrent theme is the necessity of building networks, ensuring that your work is based on an agreed and transparent set of principles and that you communicate often with your supporters. We hear these ideas from those involved in peace processes, justice networks and from the promotion of women’s rights generally. Those of us from the ‘global north’ are inspired by the courage of those working in countries either in the midst of conflict or in the early stages of making the transition from war to peace. They are faced with ongoing threats to their physical well-being and we can only assume that over time this will affect their (and their family’s) psychological well-being.
Whether the speaker is from Northern Ireland, Iraq or Honduras we hear of the backlash women experience when they attempt to enter the public debate. They are targeted with language and physical violence that is aimed at denigrating them as women. Luckily we also hear that there are those already inside the debates, peace negotiations and governments who can be trusted to work with women’s groups in order to ease their entry into ongoing dialogues. But many of us sit in the meeting room and wonder why in 2010 women still should have to rely on the goodwill of others to be able to take their rightful place in their societies.
The speakers reinforce what most of us know, as hard as it may be to negotiate the text of a treaty or a peace agreement, the implementation phase is even more difficult. It is imperative to develop benchmarks for monitoring whether or not progress is being made, particularly with respect to women’s inclusion in new structures. Whether at the domestic level or within the United Nations, statements about the necessity of incorporating women at decision-making levels and ensuring that women’s voices are adequately represented generally are rarely followed up with concrete measures that result in real change.
By the end of the day our brains and souls feel as if they are full to capacity. We all know there is so much more to do and I, and others, wonder if we have the strength to keep on fighting. In our hearts we know the answer is yes. We are rejuvenated by the sharing of stories about family, countries, cultures and aspirations. Most agree that guacamole has become a crucial part of our diets. Adios,