In its capacity of OSCE’s Chairman for 2020, Albania intends to promote the role of women in peace processes, conflict prevention and resolution – a commitment that the 2021 OSCE Chairman, Sweden, will take care of next year.
Albania’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2020 was supposed to bring about a major international conference in Tirana on the role of women in peace and security issues. While the pandemic forced the Albanian government to cancel the conference, it did not diminish Tirana’s commitment to this important topic. Hence, the decision to organize a webinar – in cooperation with OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Organization’s next Chairman, Sweden – on the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution.
The Albanian Embassy in The Hague, led by H.E. Ambassador Adia Sakiqi, played an instrumental role in the organization of the event. After welcoming the participants, the Ambassador outlined the progress made by her country, especially from a legislative perspective, to foster gender equality. On the domestic front, she mentioned for instance the government’s Third Strategy on Gender Equality, the 2018 National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, as well as the law “On Gender Equality in Society”, which fosters gender equality in all public institutions.
At the same time, the Ambassador also stressed that Albania’s commitment to the relevant international legal instruments, such as UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the CEDAW Convention of 1993, and the Istanbul Convention of 2014.
“As always, implementation has its challenges” – Ms. Sakiqi admitted. At the same time, however, she expressed her optimism regarding Albania’s progress. “Our numbers are modest, but the tendency is to go upwards” – she stressed, noting that women make up a significant part of the country’s political class (half of the current cabinet and one third of the Albanian Parliament), as well as of Albania’s public sector (43% of the public workforce, and 35% of the new officers joining the country’s army in 2019).
This progress has been recognized by international rankings, with the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2018placing Albania 34th out of 149 countries for the number of women involved in public affairs and women political empowerment, and 5th worldwide for wage equality for similar work. Still, Ms. Sakiqi stressed that “we should not be easily pleased and satisfied”, calling for further efforts in this important domain.
Following Ms. Sakiqi’s remarks, H.E. Ms. Annika Markovic, Ambassador of Sweden to the Netherlands, took the floor to moderate the webinar. She thus introduced the three keynote speakers: Ms. Indi Milo, an Albanian career diplomat with extensive experience in human rights and security issues, currently Head of the Albanian Chairmanship Task Force; Ambassador Lamberto Zannier, former Secretary General of OSCE and currently High Commissioner on National Minorities; and H.E. Ambassador Ms. Marie Jacobsson, Principal Legal Adviser on International Law at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, with extensive experience of high-level international law negotiations.
First, Ms. Milo spoke about the ways in which a wider participation of women can be fostered across the OSCE area. “OSCE chairmanship is very important for us this year; we want to refocus on existing commitments and redouble our efforts and implementation of the three dimensions of the topic. The first one is the military-political dimension; we can commit the inclusiveness of women as mediators, facilitators or moderators, in formal processes in OSCE. The second dimession is the invironnement and we can warantie the full participation of women in climate security activitites.
The third dimenssion is that women are under represented in democratic processes, as decision makers and in democratic policy making, OSCE has an outstanding expertise in these topics. Specifically in elections participation of women in political parties. ” she explained.
Regarding the actual situation Ms. Milo declared: “During COVID -19 pandemic we specially encourage share work and parental responsibilities between women and men, research showed that this pandemic is further wide than the gender gap.
Women need full participation in peace, security processes and decision making as well and in detection of conflict related violence.
The contribution of Mr. Zannier focused instead on inclusivity more at large, describing how inclusive societies can contribute to conflict prevention efforts.
“We felt the need to have a panel on gender and to focus on serious challenges of women in the context of the role of women in conflict prevention & resolution, which is an issue that doesn’t play out in the same way in every country. In some places, we do see diverse problems that need to be recognized and addressed as a minority.
COVID-19 is impacting minorities communities in a disproportional way; we see increasing discrimination and hate speech. We also have seen limited access to healthcare, and some services like education services, the information in minority languages, some times been not good enough and members of minorities communities are in a disadvantage in comparison to the majority.” said Ambassador Zannier.
“Gender adds a different element to on top of that. In general, regarding women we have seen a higher rate of unemployment compared to a previous economic recession, increasing labour force, domestic work, work in agriculture, increasing responsibility to child care, also on top of this increasing domestic violence.” He added.
The speech of Ambassador Jacobsson shifted the focus back to women’s right to participate to conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts – exemplified by the Swedish initiative on Women’s Mediation.
“Women need to sit at all forums and contribute to a sustainable, inclusive peace for the benefits of men and women alike. I’m an international layer, mediation for me has a specific meaning, we use mediation in all context to include everything, prevention during conflicts and post conflicts measures, and that is important. In Swedish Women Mediation Network, we want to support women peacebuilders and assist in their effective participation at the various stages of the peace process.” ambassador Jacobsson said. “And we can say, about the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1325, that promotion of gender equality is not only a woman or a matter of women; it is also a very clear and an important matter to ensure that we have sustainable peace and security for all.”
“The second issue that we promote is that we need and recognized that peace must be built from below. It is absolutely essential to support civil society and local peacebuilders and to ensure that their voices are heard, and it’s not only about gender inclusion, is about of recognizes that conditions for peace most be based in the rule of law and that they are set on the local level. Thus you need to connect the local community, civil society, government, and international community to help create conditions to a truly inclusive and legitimate peace process.”
“And then thirdly, we believe that the international community needs to step part of the effort to support sustainable peace processes.”
These introductory remarks were then followed by a lively debate among all the participants, who engaged in a Q&A session.