Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Using Women to Fight Extremism

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Using Women to Fight Extremism

Article excerpt

THE INSTITUTE for Inclusive Security's (IIS) annual conference, "Policy Forum 2010: Women Moderating Extremism," held Jan. 19 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC, included a lunch for nearly 500 professionals involved in peace and security issues. Government representatives from the U.S. and other countries, non-government organizations, private contractors, and academia listened to this year's participants discuss the challenges and victories they've had as prominent leaders in their own nations.

Ambassador Swanee Hunt, founder of the IIS, described her work promoting women in peace processes around the world. Decision makers in the United States and abroad rarely consider the contributions that women in leadership positions can make to moderating extremism, she pointed out. Women can convince young men to leave the Taliban by discussing tolerance in schools or by using such media as talk shows. Women have a stake in restoring peace and security so they can attend school and rebuild their communities. Women have the strength-they just need the power, Ambassador Hunt concluded.

She then introduced Dan Rather, managing editor and global correspondent of the television news magazine "Dan Rather Reports." Gender parity and the oppression of women is a primary moral challenge of the 21st century, Rather stated. Women can bring to the table many valuable talents, including their abilities to resolve conflicts, broker power, empathize across cultural barriers, and shape and inform future leaders, the former "CBS Evening News" anchor said.

Several talented women told luncheon guests their inspiring stories. Canadian Sen. Mobina S.B. Jaffer, who represents British Columbia, was born in Uganda to East Indian parents. The first South Asian and the first Muslim woman appointed to the Upper House, Jaffer discussed her work trying to improve the lives of women living in conflict zones. Jody Williams received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the prize with her that year. She now chairs the Nobel Women's Initiative, which uses the prestige and access afforded by the Nobel Prize to spotlight and promote other women working to advance peace, justice and equality.

Rwandan Alice Urusaro Karekezi told how her illiterate mother carried her from Rwanda to safety in Uganda. Unable to read the signposts, she vowed that her daughter would learn to read-and today Karekezi is completing her doctoral degree in peace and development studies in Sweden. …

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