Open Day on Women, Peace and Security: Discussing the roles of women and youth in sustaining peace

Date: Monday, November 19, 2018

For the fifth consecutive year, UN Women and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, in close cooperation with UNHCR, UNDP and the Office of the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia (UNRGID), organized an Open Day on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

Ms. Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu, UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions on the conflict in Georgia, responding to questions from grass-roots women
Ms. Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussion on the conflict in Georgia, responding to questions from grass-roots women; Photo: UN Women

More than 60 representatives of women’s and youth’s civil society and grass-roots organizations, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected women from the regions of Imereti, Kvemo Karti, Samegrelo and Shida Kartli living in villages in the vicinity of the dividing lines with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, were brought together to discuss the progress and challenges of the implementation of WPS in Georgia with the UN representatives.

Julia Kharashvili, head of the civil society organization “IDP Women Consent”, highlighted the importance of institutionalizing a consultative mechanism between the representatives of women’s organizations and the co-chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) that would inform the sessions about women’s experiences, concerns and recommendations.

Representatives of youth organizations living in areas close to the dividing lines raised their safety and security concerns and expressed worries about their future in the gradually depopulating and ageing villages, which offer limited to no job opportunities and a lack of services.

Since 2012, Georgia has had a National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security (NAP). While it has delivered many positive results over the years - with Georgia becoming an example of best practices in mainstreaming gender and strengthening women’s participation in the security sector - the NAP’s direct benefits to local-level women have been less visible. Maya Rusetskaia from the Women’s Information Center, therefore, discussed the challenges and opportunities related to increasing local women’s participation in the NAP’s implementation. She stated that the biggest challenge is the lack of information about the NAP in the regions: “[Civil society organizations] have to build bridges so that the information reaches the affected population.”

For the first time, the UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions, Ms. Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu, attended the Open Day consultations in Georgia. Ms. Sultanoğlu was appointed by the UN Secretary-General in July 2018 - the third woman to represent the UN system in the high-level peace negotiation. She underlined the importance of meaningful participation in conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict reconstruction at all levels as the key to sustainable peace, emphasizing: “I will continue [my predecessor’s] advocacy with the relevant authorities to assert the crucial importance of meaningful participation and equal representation of women in the peace process.”

Responding to the recommendations voiced during the 2017 Open Day, UN Resident Coordinator Louisa Vinton summarized the UN system’s contributions to advancing the WPS agenda in Georgia. She acknowledged that despite achievements in some areas, such as the increased participation of women in the security sector and the sustained participation of women on the Georgian side in the GID, there is still work to be done. In the discussion, UN Women Georgia Representative Erika Kvapilova reiterated that the UN system will continue paying increased attention to the grass-roots and conflict-affected women and young people living close to the dividing lines to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate and benefit from the NAP and other policies and programmes available to them.

Open Days on Women, Peace and Security are organized annually by UN Women. The findings and recommendations from the Open Day inform further advocacy work and technical support of the UN system to national partners - especially to grass-roots, IPD and conflict-affected women - in line with the mandates and commitments of the respective UN agencies, programmes, funds and entities under the United Nations Partnership for Sustainable Development and the nationalized Sustainable Development Goals.