The international women's peace-of-security agenda and the Italian PAN: what role does civil society play?

The panel of speakers The panel of speakers Centro Studi Difesa Civile

What role does civil society play, especially women, in the processes of building and maintaining peace?

On 13 April, at the International House of Women at Via della Lungara 16 in Rome, a meeting was held concerning the theme, "The international agenda for women’s peace and security and the Italian PAN: what role does civil society play?" in an effort to  answer this question.

The conference, opened by Luisa Del Turco, director of the Civil Defense Studies Center, addressed the main aspects of the NAP concerning the role of women in promoting and maintaining peace and human rights in conflict and post-conflict areas. The subject of the conference was also Resolution 1325: "Women Peace Security" of the UN Security Council, and its capacity to implement the strategies and collaboration between women's organizations and international organizations that are responsible for these policies.

Sara Ballardini, member of the Peace Brigades International Italy, starts for first highlighting the importance of the role of women as mediators and defender of peace in situations of conflict, bearing witness to numerous cases of violence against of activists.

Following, Simona Lanzoni and Augusta Angelucci, of the Pangea Foundation, have brought further important direct testimonies of the actions carried out by women in countries affected by armed and socially difficult conflicts such as Afghanistan and Rwanda. She also documented contexts where women play secondary roles compared to men, demonstrating a strong social division in the field of fundamental human rights and women’s rights in particular. In these circumstances, activists played a primary role in developing dialogue and mediation with conflicting actors.

Another prominent guest, Mao Valpiana, representative of the nonviolent Movement, has emphasized nonviolent action as a response to violence and has remembered how, in the solution of conflicts including international ones (for example the Great War), women have had and still have a specific role and are a crucial instrument for peace.

The intervention of the President of CIDU, Fabrizio Petri, has instead stressed that the Resolution 1325 is an example of a strong contribution by Italy to increase the commitment of the Italian Authorities in implementing the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on Women, Peace and Security. The Italian National Action Plan (PAN) 2014-2016, as the matter of fact, enhances the growing importance and impact that the issue in question is taking in both international and national context. Italy has committed itself to strengthening actions to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in conflict settings by promoting, on the contrary, equality, empowerment and participation of women in all areas of life.

In conclusion, Silvia Stilli, President of the Association of Italian Organizations for International Cooperation and Solidarity, expressed an important concern: it would be insufficient to only talk about the added value of civil society, and rather more influential to remember the responsibility that it has in the context of peace processes.

So, what is the added value of civil society? It is a necessary role which will have the deserved recognition only if this is fully understood, and that the network between organizations and institutions will be maintained and strengthened to provide those engaged in this field a voice and areal possibility of taking action.