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Include women in conflict and peace negotiations

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I am in New York City to participate in events connected to and surrounding the meeting of Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

I am joining thousands of women and a few men who gather every year around this time, usually in this city, to advance the participation of women in our society. We are here to witness government meetings in action, as well as to share our thoughts, knowledge, experiences and opinions at hundreds of official UN and other civil society and non-governmental organizations’ forums & meetings.

I have come, for the second time now in as many years, because I am shocked, appalled... and inspired.

Let me explain. I learned about this annual event in 2012 after being introduced to the Voice of Women for Peace, a Canadian non-governmental organization that began in the early 1960s as a result of the deep concern Canadian women held about the growing threat of nuclear war. The women in this group felt a strong need to have women's voices be heard.

My introduction to VOW was through a Women’s Peacemaker Camp held in Waubashene in August of 2012. There I learned about UN Security Council Resolution 1325, passed unanimously in 2000, which calls for the inclusion of women in peace and conflict negotiations.

To me, this landed as a no-brainer. Clearly, to many, it is not. Fourteen years later, fewer than 50 of the 193 UN member countries have adopted this agreement into a National Action Plan. This news stunned and angered me. And it has called me to action like my early Canadian VOW predecessors -- to find ways to have women’s voices included. Unbelievably, in 2014, the situation really has not changed significantly. Even here in Canada, on our own political front, it’s hard to celebrate now "achieving" 25 per cent women of our nationally elected officials (77 out of 207 MPs), 28 per cent of our provincial MPs (30 out of 107) and 22 per cent of our local municipal officials in Clearview (two out of nine Councillors, Deputy Mayor and Mayor).

And so I have come here, to New York City, for the second time now, to see how I might channel my incredulity, anger and, ultimately, love in creative ways to advance this call for the full inclusion of women in this world. First step: spread the word!

Stay tuned next week for more thoughts & ideas about how we all can participate in our own evolution towards the generous inclusion of women in our society.

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