Inclusive Peace Needs All of Us

   •    November 15, 2016

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Swanee on a panel at the US Institute of Peace, November 2016.

The panel at the US Institute of Peace (left to right): Nancy Lindborg, Lana Nusseibeh, and Melanne Verveer with Swanee.

That was a common sentiment among speakers at the Fourth Annual Sheikha Fatima Lecture at the United States Institute of Peace on Nov. 15 in Washington, on “The Role of Women in Promoting Peaceful and Inclusive Societies.”

Sharing the stage with Swanee Hunt were former Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Lana Nusseibeh, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations. The moderator was USIP President Nancy Lindborg, who has made gender equity a focal point of her leadership.

Nancy Lindborg welcomed the audience with a ringing restatement of the message Swanee has been repeating for 20 years: “We know that building international peace requires women’s participation. We know that inclusive solutions are the key to peace.”

Swanee pointed out that she chose not to include “women” in the title of the non-profit organization she founded, the Institute for Inclusive Security, to underline the broader understanding of security.

“Security is about inclusion,” she said. “When you bring women around the table, the women insist that other people’s point of view be included.”

Melanne Verveer, who chairs the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security and was Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues in the Obama administration, said, “This is not about women’s issues.” She said that a gender lens brings a powerful perspective to complex security situations in countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.

She added that “it is crucial that men and boys become involved in making the argument that women and girls need opportunities.” She said, for example, that schools in Afghanistan survive when they are protected by men.

Swanee said the evidence is clear that global momentum is building for the inclusive security agenda, not least in the adoption of national strategies by more than 60 countries to build up the percentage of women leaders in government, business, and civil society.

Lana Nusseibeh told the audience that men need to be on board in the campaign for gender equality. She said the support of men had led to a drastic increase in women’s participation in the UAE, including as pilots in the military. She said 70 percent of the university graduates in the UAE are female.

Melanne added: “you need leadership from the top and from the bottom. You need both.”

At a luncheon that followed, keynote speaker Tina Tchen, the top White House official on gender, said, “This fight is our fight. We need to change hearts and minds, not just in villages in Pakistan but also in villages in the USA.”

She added: “Swanee and Melanne were the two women who schooled me in global women’s leadership.”

One lesson she learned, she added, is that “Most change happens outside the White House, and will continue to happen outside the White House.”

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