Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP participated in an inspiring pre-conference workshop on gender equality and peace in Cyprus, titled “Cypriot Women’s Involvement in Political Decisions: Their Achievements and Challenges” invited and organized by the Center for Women’s Studies of the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) in Famagusta, which preceded a three-day international conference on gender, war & peace.
The workshop looked at past efforts, activities and achievements of Cypriot women on gender equality and peace-building processes. It also highlighted obstacles and challenges in struggles for peace in Cyprus and gave an opportunity for the participants to make suggestions on strategies to overcome the challenges. The results of the workshop discussion will be presented at the 6th International Conference on “Gender, War, Conflict and Peace”, organized by Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), Center for Women’s Studies, from 23-25 March, 2016. Invited to the workshop were members of the Technical Committee on Gender Equality (TCGE), civil society peace builders, activists and scholars to discuss Cypriot women’s efforts, achievements and struggles for gender equality and peace in Cyprus.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General & Head of UNFICYP, Ms. Elizabeth Spehar was one of the speakers alongside Ms. Lesley Abdela, a women’s rights and representation expert, Dr. Umut Bozkurt, a member of the Gender Advisory Team (GAT) and the TCGE and assistant professor at EMU, Ms. Magda Zenon, communicator, networker, activist & broadcaster and Ms. Sevgül Uludağ – investigative journalist and peace activist.
In November 2016, the Executive Coordinator had participated in a preparatory workshop in Nicosia, on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Cyprus followed by a conference on “Pathways towards sustainable peace: Building United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 into the Cyprus context” which aimed at developing a national action plan on UNSCR1325 for Cyprus. The workshops expanded on each of the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and developed a set of good practices to promote women, peace and security agenda as an integral part of the Cyprus peace building process.
Cypriot women continue to face challenges from low public participation, inadequate protection from sexual violence, and lack of funding for women’s organizations. Women have been severely underrepresented in decision-making roles during the peace process between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Cyprus has ratified UNSCR 1325 but does not yet have a National Action Plan for its implementation for the entire island. GAT together with PRIO in 2012 published GAT’s recommendations on how to implement UNSCR 1325 in Cyprus. For the first time in Cyprus history, the five main religious leaders of Cyprus, working together under the framework of the RTCYPP, recently adopted a joint statement condemning all forms of violence against women and girls.
With the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security adopted in 2000, the UN Security Council for the first time publicly acknowledged the role of women not only as victims of conflict but as actors that can bring about change and transform violent conflict. The UNSCR urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts. The resolution is based on four pillars for implementation; prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery.