The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security co-hosted an international conference with the National University of Ireland in Galway on women’s leadership in peacemaking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and The Great Lakes Region of Africa on July 1-2, 2014. The conference, which was held at the NUI Galway campus, was jointly led by Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General and former president of Ireland, Bineta Diop, African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, and Melanne Verveer, GIWPS Executive Director and former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. Eamon Gilmore, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, who also serves as Foreign Minister, delivered the keynote address at the conference’s opening, where he pledged a new commitment of Euro 100,000 in support of women’s participation in the ongoing peace process.
The conference brought together some two hundred academics, activists, and students from around the world, including delegations of Congolese civil society leaders and members of the African diaspora in Ireland. GIWPS Executive Director, Melanne Verveer, delivered keynote remarks, noting, “I fully support Mary Robinson’s leadership and her commitment to better integrating women into the implementation of the peace agreement. We must work together to seize this moment to bring an end to the horrific violence and instability in the DRC.”
The conference marked the publication of a new joint study conducted over the last twelve months, co-authored by Institute researcher Roslyn Warren and Dr. Niamh Reilly, co-director of the Global Women’s Studies Center at NUI Galway. The report, based on primary documents and interviews with international leaders and Congolese civil society, maps the achievements, challenges, and opportunities that exist for women’s participation and leadership in the unfolding peace process at the national and regional levels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and larger Great Lakes region of Africa. According to Verveer, “this study creates an evidence-based case for women’s participation and identifies strategic opportunities to address the crisis in the Great Lakes Region, a conflict that has been raging for decades and in which women have suffered immeasurably.”
The conference featured a combination of plenary and breakout sessions on themes such as sustainable livelihoods, sexual and gender based violence, women’s public leadership, and a book launch for GIWPS Assistant Director Mayesha Alam’s new book on Women and Transitional Justice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).