Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), organized a Seminar on April 26, 2014, in collaboration with Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto University (SBBWU), Peshawar titled “Role of Women in Conflict Resolution”. The eminent speakers were Prof. Dr. Razia Sultan, Vice Chancellor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Peshawar and Ms. Sabah Aslam, Executive Director, Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR). Ms. Aqila Naz, Research Officer, ORIC, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto University (SBBWU), welcomed the guests.
Dr. Razia Sultan said that the word ‘Resolution’ means a ‘firm decision to do or not to do something’ but when it comes to conflict resolution it aims at the following:
(c) Solutions of conflict by peaceful means
(d) Seeking victories for all the parties involved in the conflict.
She explained the role of women in Pakhtoon culture. Adding to it, Dr. Razia said that Pakhtunwali, ‘the way of the Pakhtuns’, is integral to Pakhtun identity. It is considered as an ‘alternative form of social organization with an advanced conflict resolution mechanism. By adhering to Pakhtunwali, a Pakhtun possesses honour (izzat); without honour, she or he is no longer considered a Pakhtun and is not given the rights, protection, or support of the Pakhtun community.
She said that Pakhtunwali’s honor- based society is governed by the following concepts:
a) Chivalry including many restrictions on the behavior of women (ghayrat or nang)
b) Hospitality (melmastia)
c) Gender boundaries (pardah or namus)
d) Right of a fugitive to seek refuge and acceptance of his offer of peace (nanawati)
e) Right of revenge (badal)
f) Bravery (torah)
g) Steadfastness (sabat)
h) Righteousness (imandari)
i) Persistence (isteqamat)
Dr. Razia elucidated that the peace building approaches in Pakhtun culture are based on Pakhtunwali, as all the structures and processes that underpin social, political and economic life in Pakhtun society.
She further talked about that the role of women in conflict resolution form gender perspective. She said that women are worst victims of conflicts. She said by educating and creating awareness, indulging in policy dialogues concerning conflict resolution, the role women could be improved in the society.
Ms. Sabah Aslam explained that role of women in conflict resolution and actions to enhance it. The nature of this term ‘Women’ is dynamic. History witnesses the importance of women with its changing nature and role in a society. In the past decade, the roles of women particularly in the field of conflict resolution have been raising numerous questions. These questions have prompted many attempts to bring in feminist perspectives to the study and practice of conflict prevention and resolution. For instance, Louis Kriesberg called attention to the contribution of feminist perspectives to the contended discussion on the reasons of war, the prospects for peace, and conflict resolution. He pointed out the fact that a neutralized socialization would help generate peace. The deprived, disfranchised, and underprivileged segment of our society ‘women’ can play a crucial role in conflict prevention, and conflict transformation.
She explained that why in our society or any other society women could be better peace makers/builders? The ‘social experiences’ and day to day engagements makes them a better judge/evaluator. A woman at any time can take an initiative to further the peace prospects to give a safe and sound environment to her family; hence women are the prime stake holders. In recent history, more attention has been paid to strengthen the status of women in Pakistan, and making it an asset not a curse.
She said that in third world countries the skills and contributions made by the women are often underestimated and under-utilized.
Women should be part of peace-building because of the following reasons:
a) The peace-building process is a tough job and alone men cannot solve the issues; women are half in every community and hence have to share the burden.
b) Women are the key caretakers of families and have experience in dealing with all the age groups and understand the psychology of community. Hence their key role in society makes their involvement in the resolution of conflict essential.
c) Women being sufferer of violence and conflicts can judge the issues in a better way and should be encouraged to share their experiences to have more options for peace-building.
d) Women empowerment through training programs can enhance their role in society.
e) Violence, discrimination, and inequality in a society gives birth to other forms of violence, so bringing women in peace-building can end to that particular form of violence.
She further said that the contribution of women in the conflict transformation and peacebuilding has been significant in any society. For instance, the role of women in conflicting zones of Pakistan i.e. KPK, FATA, Kashmir, and Balochistan in capacity of psychologists, teachers, doctors, and human rights activists is of tremendous help to the country.
Women from all over the country can show their presence in the national affairs in different capacities. There should be no class divide in Pakistan, all women are same, and they should collaborate with each other in making our country a peaceful place on earth.
Once the women of Pakistan stand united then the society starts changing. As far as peace efforts, conflict prevention and conflict resolution is concerned, women should be empowered first. Until and unless Pakistani women don’t take into account their strengths and weaknesses, and rights till then they can’t contribute to peace efforts.
She concluded by saying that women of Pakistan should organize themselves in order to safeguard their basic rights and carry out activities associated with conflict prevention, education, health, and conflict transformation. The role of women in the society for its betterment is inevitable.
A memorandum of understanding was also signed at the end of seminar to promote cooperation in the field of academic research.