5 Amazing Stories You Didn’t Hear About In 2014
In 2014, we celebrated many women who are paving the way for global security, from Malala winning the Nobel Peace Prize, to Syrian women building a better future for their country. But there were other stories that flew under the radar. All over the world, women were challenging prevailing narratives and impacting who makes decisions about peace and security. Here we highlight five stories you may have missed in 2014.
1. Progress for Women in Colombia Negotiations
The inclusion of women and a gender perspective was strengthened in negotiations between the rebel FARC-EP group and the Colombian government. In November 2013, two women were appointed to the government’s negotiating team by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: Maria Paulina Riveros, head of the Interior Ministry’s human rights work, and Nigeria Renteria Lozano, the president’s Senior Advisor for Gender Equity, joining their female counterparts on the FARC-EP side of the table. After extensive lobbying by women-led civil society groups, both parties agreed in September 2014 to create a subcommittee on gender with a mandate to integrate a gendered perspective into any agreements that result. For the first time, negotiations also included consultations with gender experts and representatives from women’s organizations. These changes aim to ensure that the final agreements address reparations for female victims of sexual violence and the reintegration of the estimated 40 percent of FARC ex-combatants who are women. Read more here and here.
2. South Sudanese women crossed ethnic lines to end violence
In Bentiu, South Sudan, the internally displaced persons (IDP) compound is divided into two camps: one for the Nuer people and one for the Dinka people. Last year, Semira and Wedad—two women from different ethnic groups—joined together to improve life in the camp and advocate for a ceasefire so everyone could return to their homes. They organized 40 people for a peaceful protest, walking two hours to the governor’s house, carrying flags they made from papers strung between wood. Many could not make the entire journey because they were too sick or weak. Semira and Wedad lobbied the governor to provide protection to the IDPs and support a ceasefire so that all people—both Dinka and Nuer—can live in peace.
3. Michelle Howard became the US Navy’s first female four-star admiral
In July, the US Navy appointed its first female four-star admiral. Michelle Howard is now the highest-ranking woman in the history of the Navy, where she also serves as vice chief of naval operations. Accomplishments of this scope are not new to Admiral Howard, as she was the first African-American woman to command a naval ship, and the first to be promoted to three-star officer in the US military. She is most famous for leading the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was captured by Somali pirates in 2009. Read more here.
4. Pakistani policewomen trained to fight the Taliban
As NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan, women are being recruited to tackle terrorism in neighboring Pakistan. Female volunteers in Pakistan’s police force are being trained on how to fight the Taliban through police raids and anti-terror operations. Increasing the number of female police officers is necessary to effectively combat extremist violence, since they can do many things male police in Pakistan cannot, such as treat female victims, enter private homes where females are present, and search female insurgents at checkpoints. View pictures here and here.
5. Women prominent in the Philippines peace process
A largely unreported, but vastly significant milestone was reached in the Philippines, when the country became one of a few to have women involved in nearly every side of the peace negotiations. Our Network member Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was the first female panel chair in the 40 years of discussions between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippines government. As the lead negotiator for the government, she was also the primary signatory of the peace agreement. The president’s advisor on the peace process was a woman and the Islamic rebel group also included women in its negotiating team and as advisors. Read more here.
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