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‘Peace, security exist with freedom of choice, expression’

  • Published at 12:29 pm October 20th, 2020
Single woman in Dhaka
File photo: Most of the private hostels for single working women in Dhaka city have been forced to shut down during the lockdown that was imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Young speakers share their views at webinar on women, peace and power

Peace and security are only possible when there is freedom of choice, speech and expression, speakers have said at a program.

A virtual event, entitled “Women, Peace, Power: A Youth Perspective,” was held at 11am on Tuesday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Jointly organized by UN Women Bangladesh, Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ) of Brac University and Naripokkho, the panel discussion highlighted the perspective of youth on promoting peaceful, cohesive and inclusive societies.

The panel discussion began with a video on the digital security of women. Six young panellists expressed their opinions on peace, security and their role in advancing this agenda in their respective communities. The interactive session also included their take on power and how conflict could be prevented to promote a peaceful and inclusive society.

This session was moderated by Mahmuda Sultana Shorna, project assistant at CPJ, Brac University.

Smaranika Chakma of the Society for Integrated Women’s Progress said: "Peace and security mean fearlessness and freedom of life, choice, voice [sic speech]. I believe, if justice and human rights are enforced in our society, then peace and security will be secured.”

“As a youth activist, I am working towards fighting violence against indigenous women, gender equality, raising awareness about protecting and promoting indigenous women’s rights at the grassroots and at international levels,” added Smaranika, who is also a member of the Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN).

Rohingya refugee youth speaker Lucky, explaining the concept of gender equality, said: “As women, we have to raise our voices, share  our problems and seek support.”

Maskatul Zinan, joint secretary of Women Peace Café, said: "Peace is not just the absence of conflict, peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, religion, gender, class and enjoy human rights and freedom.

“The biggest step can be taken by the youth to eliminate this inequality. They can make the country and the nation understand the importance of gender equality through their various awareness activities, such as dramas, writings, discussions, education for all, cultural programs, etc."

Addressing the youth panellists, Mia Seppo, UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh, said: “Against this backdrop, coupled with increasing numbers of reports of gang rapes here in Bangladesh, we are facing increased challenges to human security and lasting peace. This is why you, as young peacebuilders, are so important. You are at the forefront of building a peaceful, resilient and inclusive society.”

Khadija Akter, an executive committee member at Women with Disability Development Foundation (WDDF), said: "Peace and security are the state when you can live your life freely and rightfully without any external fear like oppression, violence, etc."

In 2000, the government of Bangladesh played a pioneering role in adopting the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.

The resolution recognized the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls, acknowledged the contributions of women and girls in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and highlighted the importance of their equal and full participation, as active agents in peace and security.

Dr Samia Huq, a research fellow at CPJ, and Shireen P Huq, member of Naripokkho, were present as special guests at the program, which was also addressed by other panellists.

The virtual event concluded with closing remarks from Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh.

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