Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

Chassia Chomsky-Porat, founder of Lysistrata, an NGO in Israel working with women and peace participated in Operation 1325:s seminartour earlier this month.
FOTO: Helena Sundman

Sharing across borders resulted in energy and focus

At the beginning of October I was invited by Operation 1325 together with three colleagues – social activists – focused on empowering women in the spirit of and according to the values of UNSR 1325: one from Palestine, one from Sudan and one from the new state of South Sudan.

We were invited to speak in four universities about our experiences and hopes concerning the implementation of UNSR 1325 in our societies.

Common misconceptions and stereotypes would situate us as enemies, but being women focusing on building peace, and experienced in de-constructing stereotypes, we already know that trusting and fearing are matters of choice, and we instantly bonded. 

Worn out and tired of battles

I have come to the seminars feeling worn out; tired of the battles we have to fight within Israeli society, with the establishment, within our own communities and not least with the women, whose awareness of our minor role we strive to awaken. Being a minority – even just in the way you see and interpret reality and try to make it more humane and feministic – is not easy. In fact, it is quite lonely and sometimes seems hopeless.

The seminars were heart-warming: speaking with so many students genuinely interested in mainstreaming gender in conflict management and peace processes and applauding our work was very empowering for us.

Motivating, the feeling of belonging

As usual, I returned home invigorated, motivated and full of energy, and I had pondered why it is so, what is the recipe – so that I can use it in the future, when I and fellow activists are emotionally fatigued or hopeless.

The first ingredient is the feeling of belonging, of being a link in a huge chain of people, organisations and especially women who are equally motivated by the will to make the world a better place.

The second ingredient is sharing. The empathic sharing of experiences with my new three friends was crucial: learning from them their methods and techniques, the empathy and love they have for the women they empower, sharing my own stories, drawing from the bottomless well of commitment, laughing together, in spite of sometimes very painful past....

Another one is the warm and interested welcome and care that the staff of Operation 1325 wrapped us with.

And last, but by no means least, is the personal realisation that leaving too much space for despair is weakening. I should always focus on realistic hope of what can and needs to be done, see failures as minor setbacks or necessary stepping stones with lesson to be learnt, and constantly envision the vision, the ultimate goal that motivates me: making this world a better place for all humanity, all minorities, and remembering that we, women, have the strength, the intuitive know-how and the ability to do it.

Gave me energy and focus

As a result I plunged back into work vigorously and energetically: narrowed the perhaps too ambitious action plan of Lysistrata (the NGO I have founded two years ago, following a former Operation 1325 seminar), and decided, together with the NGO's board to adjust our three colleagues' experience to Israeli society: we are setting up dialogue groups of women to empower them to ask questions and challenge the militaristic values, beliefs and politics that govern Israeli reality and society, and to educate their children to do so.

Now, with the social spring blossoming all over, the time seems to be right. People start realising that it is OK to ask, to challenge and to be pro-active in changing the world for the better.

Chassia Chomsky-Porat
Founder of Lysistrata, an NGO in Israel working
with women and peace