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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/27/13

Nobel Women's Initiative Conference: Women Mobilizing for Peace in Conflict

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Message Ann Wright
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I am honored to be attending the Nobel Women's Initiative, "Moving Beyond Militarism and War," May 28-30, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Six women Nobel Peace Laureates and 80 women from around the world are gathering to discuss the weighty and seeming insolvable problem of getting past the militarism of our world and the financial need of politicians and corporations to wage war. Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leyamh Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman will attend the conference, as well as women activists from war conflict regions.  

I will be moderating in the conference a session called "Women Mobilizing for Peace in Conflict." The  discussion will focus on strategies employed by women's groups caught in conflict--from Iraq to Ireland, Liberia and Sri Lanka--and examines the lessons that are transferable in dealing with current and emerging struggles.

On the panel will be Vaiba Kebeh Flomo, Women & Youth Desk Officer, Lutheran Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program in Liberia.  A peace activist and 2010 Women Peace Maker, Vaiba participated in the Precarious Progress on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Vaiba has extensive training in Conflict Resolution/Transformation and Peace Education at local and international levels. She is also featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell for her efforts to end Liberia's 14-year civil war.

Visaka Dharmadasa is the Chairperson of the Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) in Sri Lanka where she promotes the inclusion of women in the formal peace processes as well as in all decision-making bodies. Working to end the civil war that has gripped Sri Lanka for the last 20 years, she educates soldiers, youth, and community leaders about international standards of conduct in war and promotes the economic and social development of women across conflict lines. For her work, the President appointed Visaka to the National Commission Against Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms.

As Director of the Women's Resource and Development Agency in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Margaret Ward works to advance women's equality and participation in society by working to transform political, economic, social and cultural conditions. She is also Chair of Hanna's House, an all-Ireland women's peace-building project and was a women's sector representative on the Bill of Rights Forum 2006-2008. Margaret was also part of a research team that analyzed gendered meanings of security in Northern Ireland, Lebanon and South Africa and was a member of the Irish Government's Cross-Learning Process on UN SCR 1325 as part of the delegation to Liberia. A feminist historian, Margaret has published widely on Irish women's history.

The presentations will be dramatic as women discuss the effects of violence on their societies in Liberia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and the United States.

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Please follow the conference on Facebook, on Twitter, and on the Nobel Women's Initiative website.

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Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)
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