(WOMENSENEWS)-- If peace starts breaking out in troubled parts of the Arab world, women there want to be ready to help rebuild and reshape their societies.
"We need to guarantee that women have a platform through which they can engage in any meetings for peace and security. They should not ask for permission to participate," Hibaaq Osman told Women's eNews at the end of a gathering for 100 Arab female leaders and activists from 14 countries held in Amman, Jordan, from Oct. 26 to 29.
Osman said that women were anxious to take a role in the future of postwar Syria. "The best strategy for building peace in Syria is to amplify the voices of Syrian women and ensure their role in all peace talks, political processes, transitions and decisions. Without women, peace and stability will not be secured," she said.
Osman is the founder and CEO of Karama, an antiviolence group based in Cairo that helped organized the gathering along with the UN Fund for Gender Equality and the United Nations Development Programme.
During the course of the meeting, Osman said participants solidified a regional network and sense of solidarity. "The strong, unified coalition built here in recent days demands that women's voices be both included and heard," she said.
"The event was a great success," agreed Samia El Shafie, program manager at Karama. "The women realized that they are not alone and gained a renewed sense of home and camaraderie."
El Shafie said each country group committed to convening national meetings; finalizing national action plans; reaching out to civil society organizations within their countries; documenting stories of women as agents of change on the local and national levels; and reconvening to conduct a follow-up regional meeting by the first quarter of 2014.
U.N. Peace Resolutions
The discussion was held to assess ways that women can engage with a series of U.N. resolutions on women, peace and security and to spread awareness of women's rights in periods of post-conflict transition.
The most recent U.N. measure is Resolution 2122. Passed by the Security Council in October, it lays out concrete steps to advance women's participation in peace talks and access to resources and services in post-conflict transitions, The Guardian reported Oct. 21. It says humanitarian aid must include a full range of health services for women who become pregnant as a result of rape in conflict, which would include access to abortion; a highly contested issue.
Women's rights activists have worked to sharpen U.N. resolutions on women, peace and security since the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted in 2000, requiring women's involvement in all levels of peace negotiations.
In 2008, Resolution 1820 marked international recognition of sexual violence as a tactic, not simply a spoil, of war.
A year later in September, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over the Security Council's passage of Resolution 1888, which urged members to take rapid steps to stop the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war.
In 2012, the U.N. Secretary General appointed a special envoy to implement resolution 1888.
Additional reporting for this article contributed by Mayss Al-Zoubi in Amman, Jordan.