Jakarta (ANTARA) - Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has said she supports the strengthening of SEANWPNM, a network of women negotiators and mediators in Southeast Asia, and actively involving more women in peace negotiations in the region. Marsudi conveyed her support to six representatives from the Southeast Asian Network of Women Peace Negotiators and Mediators (SEANWPNM) during a virtual meeting on Wednesday (December 23, 2020), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed in a written statement received in Jakarta on Thursday.
Though SEANWPNM was initiated by the Government of Indonesia in 2019, its members do not represent the government or the state, but individuals.
"Women should be given the same opportunity to contribute to the peace process," Marsudi told the six committee members from Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste, and Thailand at the meeting.
She also expressed the hope that SEANWPNM would strengthen and complement various initiatives and mechanisms related to the issue of Women, Peace and Security (WPS), which is on the agenda of the Association of Nations in Southeast Asia (ASEAN).
"(SEANWPNM is also expected) to establish collaborations and partnerships with a network of women mediators, both in other regions and at the global level, to further strengthen the global movement for advancing the WPS agenda," the minister said.
Last year, Marsudi, the first woman to be appointed the foreign minister of Indonesia, expressed the desire to form a network of women negotiators in Southeast Asia.
She conveyed this commitment at the Global Alliance of Women Mediators, which took place on the sidelines of the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, United States.
The SEANWPNM serves as a pioneer network of women negotiators in Asia. It has added to the list of other networks of women negotiators formed in the African, Arab, and British Commonwealth countries, as well as Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.
Recent data from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) shows that the involvement of women as mediators and negotiators is still far behind men. According to the nonprofit study institute, women's involvement in peace talks in Afghanistan has only reached 10 percent, while in Libya it is at 20 percent. In fact, no women have been involved in the peace talks in Yemen, the CFR said in a report.
Established in 1921, CFR is based in the United States.
During her meeting with SEANWPNM members, Marsudi said she hopes the network can lend a new color to efforts for maintaining peace and security in the region, one of which could involve using a cultural approach to avoid finger-pointing during negotiations.
This approach, according to the minister, is one way to touch the root of the conflict so peace can be maintained.
The six SEANWPNM members who attended the meeting were Shadia Marhaban (Indonesia), Dr. Emma Leslie (Cambodia), Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (the Philippines), Lilianne Fan (Malaysia), Leonésia Tecla da Silva (Timor-Leste), and Angkhana Neelapaijit (Thailand).
Indonesian committee member, Shadia Marhaban, said that SEANWPNM will expand its reach and embrace more female mediators and negotiators in Southeast Asia.
Shadia is part of Mediators Beyond Borders International and was one of the negotiators for the Free Aceh Movement at the peace talks in Helsinki in 2005. (INE)
Source: Antara News