Organised by: LSE, Permanent Mission Liechtenstein and WILPF
Panelists/Participants: Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Aurelia Frick, Liechtenstein politician; Dr Purna Sen, Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at LSE; Joyce Banda, Malawi’s first female president; Madeline Reiss, Secretary General of WILPF; Agnes Callamard, Director of Columbia’s Freedom of Expression and Information Project.
“Although women do not start wars, yet they are not consulted on peace processes and rebuilding their countries”
On March 9, 2015 at the first day of CSW 58, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) co-sponsored a side event with LSE and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein at the Trusteeship Council Chamber on experiences of senior women who have shaped public life. The session reflected on the personal journeys of senior women and touched on the myriad of obstacles facing women in power.
Joyce Banda, Malawi’s first female president, highlighted the importance of increasing women’s economic power, keeping girls in school, and promoting women’s leadership. In promoting women, she stressed that both men and women needed to foster a supportive environment. Madeleine Rees spoke about breaking silences and challenging hegemonic masculinity in international institutions. She stated that “defending the institution is often more important than defending what they are there to do, and institutions often don’t do their jobs.” Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura stated that “although women do not start wars, they are not consulted on peace processes and rebuilding their countries”. When looking at the progress made for women in the past 100 years, she noted that breaking into the boys’ club has been easier said than done and that demanding a seat at the table has been hard. Finally, Dr. Agnes Callamard, Director of Columbia’s Freedom of Expression and Information Project, explained that it was “hard being a confident woman in a male-dominated field”, but some obstacles were not gendered. Closing the session she expressed that it was her values and commitment to social justice, which drove her to ignore obstacles.