From 17th to 21st July 2017, EPD along with Aware Girls held second round of “Peace Exchange: Pak-Afghan Women’s Bridge for Peace” in Islamabad, Pakistan. The event aimed to create a platform for harbouring bridges between women peace activists of Pakistan and Afghanistan, enabling women-women exchange of learning and strategizing together for countering radicalization and peacebuilding.
The event gathered Afghan and Pakistani peace building experts, Academia, CSOs, politicians including parliament members and representatives of various organizations with background in conflict resolution and countering radicalization. The program facilitated an interaction among the participants to raise their views and concerns about impact of radicalization on women and to discuss approaches for making peace process more inclusive.
The event was commenced by Senator Sherry Rehman’s speech on women-led peace initiatives. Following by that three panel discussions were arranged respectively discussing impact of violent extremism on women, their responses to radicalization and opportunities and challenges hampering women participation in peace process in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Lack of political will is one of the main factors for low women representation in peace process in both of the countries. So, the second day of the exchange focussed on parliamentary dialogue on spaces for women in peace process. Moreover, a roundtable was facilitated to enable Afghan and Pakistani peace activists and CSO representatives to share views on status of women’s participation in peacebuilding processes.
The third day was allocated for panel discussion on role of academia in gender mainstreaming of peacebuilding. The discussion approached academia for women inclusion to assist conflict resolution and eradicate women marginalization.
During the fourth day, Afghan peace activists had visits to Mehergarh and Lok Virsa. In this trip, they got familiar with cultural heritage of Pakistan and met the organizations which work for enhancing human rights and struggle for countering radicalization and eliminate violence.
The last day covered capacity building sessions for using Internet for countering radicalization, violent extremism, and including women in peace process.
Inputs of the first and second rounds of the peace exchanges in Kabul and Islam Abad will be merged into a strategy paper as a women-led initiative for changing policies for countering radicalization and violent extremism. EPD would like to thank Open Society Foundation (OSA) for providing funding and support for these exchanges.