On the 24th March 2021, The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) collaborated with Affinity Intercultural Foundation to deliver a special panel presentation to discuss the important topic of ‘Women as Catalyst for Peace.’ The event was part of the United Nations sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which took place from 15-26th March 2021.
Moderated by Sasha E. Butler, Founder and CEO, Centre for Global Alliance and Leadership Expansion, the panel featured IEP’s partnerships team: Patricia Garcia, Partnership Development Manager, and Charlie Allen, Director of Partnerships, and research fellow Olivia Adams.
The opening discussion, led by Ms Garcia outlined the importance of eliminating violence and discrimination against women and strengthening gender perspectives in policies and practice to support the achievement of peaceful and resilient societies. Mr Allen gave an introduction to IEP’s work and explained the links between Positive Peace and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A major highlight of the session was the research findings presented by Ms Adams including data gaps in the area of gender and IEP’s efforts to address this. A robust discussion followed with an acknowledgement of how missing data reflects the absence of gender perspectives that effectively capture the reality of women’s lives, particularly women’s lived experience of gender-based violence, the enormous associated economic and social costs, and how this limits the sustainability of peace. The main challenges facing researchers measuring gender based violence include: uneven data coverage, including a lack of historical data; underreporting; and inconsistent legal frameworks across countries.
Speaker Lorelei Higgins, an Indigenous relations strategist and an IEP Ambassador shared insights from her work activating Positive Peace in her local community of Calgary, Canada. Ms Higgins explained the groundbreaking work being undertaken that combines IEP’s Pillars of Positive Peace with traditional Canadian Indigenous concepts of peace.
Lastly, renowned peace practitioner Irene Santiago, former Executive Director of the NGO Forum of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, presented a case study of a project known as ‘Peace 911.’ Ms Santiago described the peace and development initiative from the city government of Davao for Paquibato District that led to the end of a violent communist insurgency in the area. Ms Santiago also touched on the incredible display of women’s leadership throughout the COVID pandemic.