WE Act 1325 wishes to be counted among the many civil society organizations and other stakeholders who celebrate the breakthrough in the peace negotiations between the GPH and MILF. We commend the Aquino administration for the political will it demonstrated, and thank the members of the negotiating panels for having forged the framework agreement which is up for signing a week from now.
From high-level public figures to grassroots activists, the winners include a survivor of a rocket-propelled grenade attack who now helps women with disabilities in Afghanistan, reformers who push for women's place at peace talks, advocates for human rights, and supporters of women's entrepreneurship to fight poverty. They were selected from 100 nominations through an online voting campaign that included more than 55,000 voters worldwide.
Be prepared. International organizations, policymakers, politicians, armed groups, and researchers will be analyzing the Mindanao peace process in detail. They'll be anxious to extract lessons that could be relevant to making peace in Burma (Myanmar), Kashmir, Colombia, the Caucasus and elsewhere. Maybe also Afghanistan.
The conflict in Mindanao has by some estimates cost the lives of at least 120,000 people since the 1970s and displaced two million people. While the conflict stems from a separatist rebellion, it has generated internecine violence most recently in 2010, when a leading clan from the region slaughtered 58 persons including 34 journalists in one particularly deadly incident.
The event was organized by the Women engaged in Action (We Act) 1325, a coalition of women organizations and civil society groups working on women, peace and security issues in the country together with the local partner Katungod han Samareña Foundation (KSFI) in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP).
Tuesday's New York Times carried a fascinating article on its front page about the prospects for peace in Afghanistan:
The once ambitious American plans for ending the war are now being replaced by the far more modest goal of setting the stage for the Afghans to work out a deal among themselves in the years after most Western forces depart, and to ensure Pakistan is on board with any eventual settlement.
First of all, Pakistan being a multinational federal state, the parliament ought to be so constituted as to ensure fair and adequate representation to the people of all the federating units, including especially the marginalized and disadvantaged sections and groups - women, workers, peasants and those labeled as "minorities or non-Muslims".
Preparations for the 2014 presidential elections are under way in Afghanistan, and this campaign appears likely to be markedly different from preceding contests. Fawzia Koofi, 35, announced her candidacy in May and is campaigning across the country in hopes of becoming its first female president.
“We do not want to go back on our gains. Whatever we have gained in the past 10-11 years, we do not want to give an inch of it,” said Mahbouba Seraj, founder and director of the Organization for Research in Peace and Solidarity.
“There is no going back, we don't want to do that, so that's why we want the support of the world,” she told AFP during a whirlwind trip to Washington.
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