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.
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.