Women often pay the heaviest price in wars and conflicts but while they are the main victims, women are also the main positive agents of change. EU chief of diplomacy Federica Mogherini met Syrian and Yemeni women in Brussels earlier this month as part of a high-level dialogue on “Advancing the Role of Women in Peace Processes”.
In armed conflicts around the world, women are already active in mediation, conflict resolution, peace building, conflict prevention and they also work with detainees, warrying groups and in the field of humanitarian aid, health and human rights. “They are doing an incredible work and have an incredible courage. Women can be the best agent for change: empowering them gives peace a greater chance of success”, said High Representative Mogherini after meeting some of the women.
Ms. Mogherini reminded that the EU was committed to support women not only in conflict zones but also in peace processes. She reiterated that be it in Syria, Yemen or wherever in the world, the EU had no other agenda than to achieve peace. Women suffer heavily from the consequences of war especially as conflict spurs higher rates of sexual violence. Conflict renders women more vulnerable to poverty, joblessness, and the destruction of assets. Health care services also crumble and a maternal mortality rate that is 2.5 times higher in conflict and post-conflict countries.
The UN Refugee Agency also reports that women comprise 49% of refugees worldwide mostly due to conflict. Women were not properly accounted for in international conflict law until 2000 when the United Nations issued a ground-breaking resolution 1325 to speak directly to the women in the context of peace and security. More progress was, however, not made until 2013 since when more than half of all peace agreements signed included references to women.