Peace isn’t simply the absence of war or violence. Peace can be possible when poverty gives way to prosperity, when there is education and equality for all. Peace is about inclusion, dialogue, teamwork, tolerance, respect and understanding. It is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. The sad thing is, seeing how the world stands, we are so far from it. The world picture looks pretty grim: wars, terrorism, violence, abuse of women, children, minorities, corruption, natural disasters, poverty, hunger and social injustices.
We, as women, can do a lot to change the course of things. First of all, by taking more active roles in positions of decision and influence. We need to see more women involved in the political process all over the world. Only then, can the world become a better place and peace can become a possibility rather than a mere illusion.
A woman is the foundation of a society. You educate a boy, you only educate an individual. But when you educate a girl, you educate a whole community. We are the caretakers, the nurturers of not only our families but of our society. We are its conscience, its heart and soul and we need to get involved! A woman sees both sides of a story and empathizes with her neighbor or “rival”. She is much more observant than her male counterpart and can more readily walk in someone else’s shoes. These are key qualities for conflict resolution. When you are sitting at the negotiating table you cannot bring your ego along if you want to get to a solution. So many of the problems the planet is facing today is because of the male ego, and the desire to always win, never admitting fault, pretending to always be right and wanting the whole pie instead of sharing it. This planet is not only ours, it belongs to our future generations. We cannot leave them a world torn by conflicts, hatred and injustices! Our legacy cannot be an overheated, depleted, abused planet where trees and pure air are hard to find, where nature has been violated in the name of industry and technology! It is time for the caretakers and nurturers of this world to actually take care and nurture our world, our planet, our HOME.
"It is time for the caretakers and nurturers of this world to actually take care and nurture our planet, our HOME."
Since the beginning of time, we have had lots of examples of strong women: the Amazon Warriors of Latin America, Cleopatra of Egypt, Zenubia of Palmyra, Elizabeth the First of England, Catherine the Great of Russia. These are outstanding women who have competed in a world ruled by men, who have conquered cities and ruled over empires. I admire these women but I think they were acting like men and not being true to their essence, thus their downfall. If we want to get involved, we have to do it by being true to ourselves, by being real women and not women parading as men. I know it is hard, it is still a male ruled world and for women to be taken seriously, we have to act like men sometimes. This is the worst thing we can do, and if we keep doing it, the world’s situation will not change nor will it improve.
I participated in the peace negotiations between Ecuador and Peru that took place in 1995. I was the only woman present and if it weren’t for that fact, I don’t think we could have signed a peace treaty. I don’t like to take credit, or talk about myself but a woman at a negotiating table is essential for a successful outcome. As I mentioned before, a woman can see both sides of the story and empathises with her counterpart. While a man considers his counterpart as a rival, to be crushed, to be beaten; a woman sees him as part of a joint effort to get to a solution where each side will have to give up something so that both sides will come out as winners in the end. A woman knows how to compromise; she does it naturally every day in her household. A woman knows that you have to be willing to lose a little in order to win at the end. A woman knows that if the other side does not get a good deal or is cheated, this is not a victory. Both sides should leave the table satisfied and content in order to have a true victory and a lasting peace.
As we can see, women bring to the table something that is needed. We bring understanding, empathy, selflessness and compassion with purpose. We aspire to the goodness in this world and thus inspire goodness in people. We go beyond what is seen and see not only with our eyes. We have a sixth sense about things and people and are more often right than wrong when we trust our inner voice. We carry the miracle of life within us and bring forth life and love. We are great spiritual beings deeply rooted in this earth yet with branches heavily laden with fruits that aspire to the heavens. Men had their chance and messed up big time. It is our turn now. It is our time to lead and set things right.
By H.E. Minister Ivonne A-Baki, Former President of the Andean Parliament.