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Including women a prerequisite for lasting peace in Syria

Norway hosted a roundtable on women’s perspectives on the humanitarian crisis in Syria with partners UN Women and CARE International on 4 April in Brussels.

| Brussels

– The cost of war in Syria is staggering. Six years ago women in Syria were better off than in many other countries in the region. Today we are shocked, outraged and saddened by the atrocities and violence Syrian women and civilians are forced to endure, said Norwegian State Secretary Laila Bokhari in her opening remarks.

The event at Norway House on 4 April took place on the margins of the donor conference for Syria and the region on 4-5 April and brought in Syrian women from various organizations to share perspectives on the ongoing crisis with representatives from donor countries, UN agencies and other international organizations.

No future without women

Participants, including representatives from Women Now for Development and Syrian Women’s Initiative for Peace and Democracy, discussed how to ensure that women, to a larger degree, are involved in humanitarian efforts, peacebuilding and resilience in Syria – now and in the future.

– Inclusion of women and civil society in peace processes has been a priority for Norway for many years. We know that inclusion matters in peace talks; a deal is more likely to be reached, and peace lasts longer, said Bokhari.

Important to be here

Mouna Ghanem fled Syria in 2015 and now works to find lasting solutions for peace. She shared her story with the participants.

– It is important for me to be here. We cannot have peace or democracy in Syria without including women. They play a crucial part in the peace work. We have no future without them, said Ghanem.

Secretary General in CARE Norway, Gry Larsen, was impressed by the first-hand accounts.

– We don’t often get to hear directly from Syrian women and local organizations about their efforts, challenges and how the war is affecting their lives. These women want to play a part in reconstructing their own country. Listening to them, I believe there is hope.

Read more: Norway to provide NOK 2.3 billion in aid to Syria in 2017