City Club - Women and Peace
September 21st is International Peace Day, first declared in 1982 by the General Assembly of the United Nations as "a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among nations and peoples."
It was only fitting that on this day our City Club guest speaker was Dr. Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini who came to us to discuss "The Role of Women in Peace and Security".
(see https://www.icanpeacework.org/2017/02/23/sanam-naraghi-anderlini for a bio of Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini)
Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and in 2000 was among the civil society drafters of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which "reminded the world of the particular toll that conflict takes on women and girls, and of the vital role that they often play in building lasting peace. Indeed, a 2017 study examining 182 signed peace accords over two decades showed that the accords were 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years when women were involved.”
(for more information specifically on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 see http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps)
In 2011 Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini was the first senior expert on Gender and Inclusion on the United Nation's Mediation Standby team. Accordingly, she was introduced at the City Club by our friend, Ms. Carina Van Vliet who is a former political affairs officer at the United Nations who respected Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini's work. Therefore, Ms. Van Vliet suggested that Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini be invited to give a presentation at the City Club.
We did some research and learned that Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), a US-based non-profit organization whose mission is "to support civil society activism in promoting women's rights, peace and human security in countries affected by conflict, transition and closed political space. ICAN aims to support women's efforts through bridging the divisions between activists and the policy community, elevating the voices and experiences of women activists, building skills, and ensuring the exchange of knowledge and resources."
During the course of her speech, Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini drew to our attention that most of today's armed conflicts are fought in the streets and thus frequently endanger civilians as well as combatants. She went on to explain that "for over twenty years my work and the global agenda of women, peace and security in which I have played a small role, has centered around the simple idea that women's voices and experiences of war, of survival, of what it takes to care for others, their struggles to avoid and end violence and make peace, their vision of the future and their definitions of security, matter. Not because they benefit women only, but because they benefit everyone."
She went on to quote a friend of hers, Ms. Terry Greenblatt, an Israeli-American peace activist who said the following to the UN Security Council in 2002:
"women's characteristic life experience give us the potential for two things, a very special kind of intelligence, social intelligence, and a very special kind of courage, social courage. We have developed the courage to cross the lines of difference drawn between us, which are also the lines drawn inside our heads. Even when we are women whose very existence and narrative contradicts each other, we will talk, we will not shoot."
During the Q&A, we asked Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini to speak about the anger and resentment about immigrants and refugees that is very prominent in the world at this time. This was a subject she knew about since she is initially from Iran but had to flee to Great Britain with her family during the 1978-1979 revolution. She told us that she, too, is quite troubled by today's current attitudes and that we must keep in mind that refugees really miss their homeland and would go back if they possibly could. Thankfully, she called to our attention to the fact that many of the refugees from the Middle Eastern countries are quite well-educated people who would love to share their skills with the countries hosting them but, unfortunately, due to the accreditation process, they are unable to do so.
Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini was also asked by Ms. Nina McClellan from Cleveland Peace Action and Ms. Wendy Hoke, President of the Beaumont School about how she would advise young women. Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini replied by saying that it is important to study the past and learn from others like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and then take their activism to the next level. As an example, she cited how young people have superbly organized via social media (a new tool which is proving invaluable) to challenge the NRA and gun manufacturers. She also stressed the importance of inclusion; we must work with people whom we wouldn't ordinarily have much in common with.
Above all, Dr. Naraghi-Anderlini said that one must not be easily intimidated, one must be bold.