Three Young Refugee Women Share Their Inspirational Stories at the BKMC

A multimedia event on “Global Citizenship in a Time of War” organized by Heather Wokusch, an educator who works in the field of women and youth empowerment through education and promotes the SDGs, was hosted at the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens on September 27th, 2018. Having gained international attention while addressing the plight of refugees, three young refugee women shared their experiences and inspirational stories during the event.

  • Nour Barakeh: With a background spanning scientific studies and artistic work, she supports the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people to transcend the effects of war. She wrote a theater piece “Not Our Fate” that has been recently performed at European Forum Alpbach as well as at the Weltmuseum Wien hosted by Österreichisches Parlament. She also acted in the play herself.
  • Dooa Al Zamel: She is one of a few survivals from crossing the dangerous #sea from Syria to Europe relying on a boat filled with hundreds of migrants most of whom were killed when attackers sank the vessel. While surviving days alone at sea, Al Zamel also saved the life of an infant and became the subject of a best-selling book “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea.”
  • Suad Mohamed: From Somalia, she has lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks five languages and is currently learning her sixth: German. As a pharmacist, Mohamed works as an Assistant Consultant in the Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz and as an interpreter at Diakonie Österreich. Her aims are to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women.

An excerpt of the video “Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey” was screened during the event to show a journey of Rania Mustafa Ali who filmed her flee from Syria to Austria. On the way, Ali was cheated by smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border. She also risked drowning in the Mediterranean, travelling in a boat meant to hold 15 people but stuffed with 52. Mustafa was also supposed to deliver keynote at the Centre’s event but could not make it due to unexpected flight issues.

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler delivered welcome remarks and also facilitated a Q&A session. Guests from various different sectors such as media, international organization, NGO, etc actively involved themselves in the conversations on the refugee crisis and sought for ways to solve the global issue and to empower those in need of help. A ‘female empowerment’ segment of a video filmed during the European Forum Alpbach capturing “Not Our Fate” was also screened and touched the audience.

Watch the full video of Rania’s Odyssey here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDHwt-ooAi4

UN Youth Envoy on Youth Empowerment in the Field of Peace and Security

Last week, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, along with two other young female speakers, Sofia Pierre-Antoine and Kessy Ekomo-Soignet, delivered inspiring speeches at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on youth empowerment in the field of peace and security. Ms. Wickramanayake emphasized how young people, especially young women are engaging themselves in active movement to lead changes in the field.

The UNSC announced the resolution 2250 which was the first international policy framework to recognize young people’s roles in conflict prevention and resolution, and peace building in 2015. In accordance with the UNSCR 2250, a Youth4Peace community has been putting power of young men and women together to promote and maintain international peace and security.

As three years have passed now, she points out there are still existing issues of “the growing mistrust from young generations towards former political institutions” and “the exclusion of young people from political, civic, and economic life.” In attempts to solve these issues, the youth envoy strongly asked the UN Security Council to broaden opportunities for young people to participate and contribute in the matter while at the same time working on reducing the mistrust between the youth, their governments, and the multilateral system.

She made three suggestions:

  1. Support, recognize, fund, scale up, and protect the peacebuilding of young people.
  2. Prioritize political participation for young people to be fully engaged.
  3. Partner to continue efforts and promote the youth’s activities.

Watch Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake’s speech at the UNSC 2018 here.

Source: https://www.youth4peace.info
Photo: UN Photo by Mark Garten

Women Mediator’s Networks Meeting in Oslo: Connecting for Inclusive Peace-Making

This past March 2018, the CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre Monika Froehler participated in the inaugural meeting of regional women mediators’ networks in Oslo, Norway. The gathering brought together members from the already established womens’ networks, including the Nordic Women Mediators Network (est. 2015), FemWise-Africa (est. 2017), and the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network (est. 2017). They were joined by representatives from the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation and UN entities including the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the Department of Political Affairs and UN Women. In addition, representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, civil society and academia, took part in the meeting to discuss the vital role of women in peace processes.

17 years have passed since the adaption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Since its adaption, the positive and decisive role played by women in peace processes has been widely acknowledged by the international community. The inclusion of women has been shown to be crucial, not only in matters of women’s rights, but also to improve operational effectiveness, build resilience, prevent and resolve conflicts, and to sustain peace. Despite this widespread knowledge supported by evidence and robust research, women remain drastically underrepresented in peace and security talks.

The gathering discussed ways to increase the representation of women in peace and security processes. The Nordic Women Mediators Network hosted the meeting along with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, UN Under-Secretary-General Ana Maria Menendez, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and former UN Under-Secretarty-General Noeleen Heyzer, all spoke at the event.

All attendees agreed to continue working together to promote the inclusion of women in peace processes by seeking-out synergies and looking into the option of creating a global network of women mediators. As a first step towards the goal of creating an alliance of regional women mediator networks, an initial contact group was formed.

Summarizing the goals and aspirations of the group, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Søreide stated,
“It is my hope that this initiative will contribute to progress in this field, and that the next reports of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security will show an increase in women’s participation in mediation, and an increase in women’s influence in peace processes.”