Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

During the International women's Day, more than 100 women emerged from the slums to listen to Ahmedabad's Women Action Group. Mira Grebäck von Melen studied the organisation during this Spring and gathered material about its work.
FOTO: Mira Grebäck von Melen

Resolution 1325 as proof and working material in India

In a dim conference room, the fans are at full speed in the 45-degree heat, which is covering the city like a warm blanket. Me and my fellow classmate is now in our third week in Ahmedabad where we are to gather material for our thesis. The thesis focuses on how an international peace organisation can form an identity and whether it is possible to formulate messages that are interpreted the same at the grassroots level as well as the top level. The organisation we have chosen to examine is the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

The mission: Empower women

The president of the Indian section of WILPF explains that she made her way to the organization because she wanted to get into the work of the UN in its other commitments. She works at AWAG, Ahmedabads Women's Action Group, an organisation that operates all over Gujarat. The organisation's goal is to empower women by for example demonstrating women's rights to her own bodies. AWAG argues that if a woman's self-awareness increases, so does her self appreciation.

The international affects the national

With the local focus of AWAG, the president felt the need of introdcing an international dimension in the organisation's struggle for women's rights. Therefore, she turned to WILPF. She explains that what happens internationally very much affects what happens at the national level, and this in turn affects the grassroots: ”I think that whatever that is considered at UN level has impact on my country, and the thinking of the highest of high, authorities, those who are sitting in our capital in Delhi has an impact on whatever happens in all of the country. That was why I thought that I must get into WILPF and I like it to be helpful to all women in India."

Discovered 1325 by chance

Before she entered WILPF, she had taken an interest in other organisations who worked near the UN. By chance, or fate, or whatever one believes in, she got hold of an invitation to a seminar where the organisers were WILPF-India. The theme was Resolution 1325. She had not previously heard of what it was but after the workshop, she realised that this was a very important resolution that must be spread to the women of Gujarat. She argues that if the UN is on the women's side, that women actually have a part in the world, her country must listen! She began attending several seminars that dealt with the resolution and she saw that one of the greatest problems with the resolution was that there was no one in Gujarat who understood it. She therefore translated it into Gujarati, the local language of Gujarat.

Referencing the UN

The translation was finished, she has since used the resolution as a tool in her work. Each AWAG offices that are scattered over Gujarat also houses the resolution within the offices. She says that the employees at AWAG demonstrates women's rights in situations where, for example, police officers do not behave properly and that it is importance that they can refer to such a strong document as a UN resolution. ”If they have created a resolution where they proclaim that women has the right to take part in the creation of peace, then they should let me in and let me tell them about how to create peace in India”.

Mira Grebäck von Melen is a student at the Linnaeus University, Växjö, where she studies development communication and gender.