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Last week, our network of women and peace organizations in the MENA region, which has met annually for several years, gathered in Amman in Jordan. The purpose of the meeting was to work on a methodology for increased interaction between women´s organization and media. Very successful organizations shared their ideas and experience of how they reach substantive parts of the population through radio talk shows, popular TV stations and well-renowned print news. 

It was inspiring to learn that Women Empowerment Organization (WEO) in Iraqi Kurdistan was able to raise the number of women who trusted their cases of domestic violence to be resolved by the multi-professional legal “Competent Committee”. It was also encouraging to hear that the organization Women, Media and Development (TAM) through participatory video training have contributed to psychosocial healing for released female prisoners in Palestine and made the public who see the TV documentaries more inclusive. 

Success stories and progressive advocacy campaigns within our network are many. However, challenges these organizations and women in the region today face are many. Our partner share a great concern for the large numbers of Syrian refugees who are desperate and who have no hope for representation in decision-making about reparation and crisis resolution. They told about Yazidi girls who disappeared and apparently reappeared as sex workers in another country. They also stress the lack of trust in governing authorities and disbelief in international entities, including Resolution 1325, among civil society actors. It shook us to the core. 

As a network coordinator Operation 1325 re-establishes our mission to advocate for women, peace and security, to contribute to capacity-building and to provide a platform for empowerment. Soon we will publish a collection of our success stories for other women peace organizations and for media actors to learn from. The youngest participant at our meeting in Amman was 19 years old, ambitious and articulated in an organization with more to come. In dialogue with those who have struggled for justice and independence for decades, we agreed to share our expertise with the rest of the world. We want to continue to strengthen women’s voice for peace and security in media, for political participation and in peace processes. This is what we will do for Kurdish wives, for lost girls, the refugees from Syria and for the rule of law.

Annika Schabbauer, Director