Definition of Insanity and Reflections on CSW 58 — PeaceWomen E-News, March 2014
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Are we all a touch insane? According to Liberian peace activist and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, we could be! At the last Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Session 58 event I attended (an important event on the crisis in South Sudan), Leymah Gbowee reminded the room that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. She was referring to our collective work in relation to women’s participation at peace talks. She recalled and praised WILPF founder, Jane Addams, and underlined that 100 years ago, peace women were doing the same as today – organizing and calling for peace and voice – and yet still today in South Sudan, Syria and Colombia, women are excluded.
I agree something is insane about women civil society not having access to peace talks, although I am not convinced it is us – more likely the system of exclusion. Leymah’s comments did however evoke questions about our strategies – how can we tackle resistances differently?
At CSW 58, we experienced these resistances again. There was significant pushback to agreed language even on human rights as a whole, as well as on sexual and reproductive rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, and comprehensive health education. A small number of States (led by the USA and China) were also able to delete support for reducing military spending and financing development. This is a failure of the CSW 58 Agreed Conclusions, not to include already agreed language from Rio (1992) and Beijing (1995) on financing development by reducing military spending. Indeed, new ways to tackle this resistance and galvanize support for stronger progressive language in the post-2015 development framework must be found. Despite this, the Agreed Conclusions did successfully demand gender equality to be prioritized in the post-2015 development agenda by calling for a stand-alone Gender Equality Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and gender integrated throughout all other SDGs. They also recalled the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions and call for measures to implement and monitor the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, ensure women’s effective participation in peace processes and conflict situations, and end impunity. For further analysis, see >>>
For me, CSW shows that we are innovating, strategizing and finding new partnerships like never before. What CSW brings forth is energy, new friendships and ideas that we must build on. Take for example, our work on bringing together women from Syria and Bosnia, educating policymakers and practitioners with our expanded WPS mobile app, and in all of our work overcoming silos and promoting change through our integrated approach promoting sustainable peace and development through disarmament and women’s full and equal participation and rights. We must avoid doing the same things over and over and not seeing change, but we must also stand steadfast against resistance and a system of exclusion, which wants us to retreat and be silenced. We need a touch of madness to continue our work, to keep pushing for change, to keep exposing the wrongs and continue pushing for new ways to realize peace and equality.
We as WILPF had an energizing experience at this CSW overall, where 75 activists and advocates from the WILPF global network joined the WILPF international staff and over 3000 other civil society participants at hundreds of events in a two-week long hustle and bustle around UN Headquarters. WILPFers came from Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Colombia, Geneva and many places in between. They united as the WILPF CSW 58 delegation to collectively raise our voices and bring attention to the fact that you get what you pay for, and there can be no peace or development without disarmament and women’s full and equal human rights. Together, we spoke fiercely and truthfully. We organized 10 successful events and we mobilized and built momentum aroundWILPF’s 100th anniversary movement recognizing Women’s Power to Stop War! Thanks to everyone who joined us andshared a photo in our #100Women4Peace photo campaign, and if you have not yet participated, please do! For a summary of WILPF’s participation in CSW 58 and all our events, see here>>>
WILPF will be inviting all peace activists and supporters to avoid the insanity of the current war system and join our “Women’s Power to Stop War” Peace Summit in April 2015 where we will be promoting radical thinking for the future! Let’s innovate together and design the next 100 years for peace.