The things that make for peace in the Post 2015 Agenda

By: Kgothatso  Mokoena  of YWCA South Africa

The World YWCA had the opportunity to attend the United Methodist women Peace Symposium in the margins of UNGAS in New York this week. The event had many interesting speakers and amongst them, Bill McKibben, Author and Environmentalist, Otilia Lux de Coti from Guatemala and Cora Weiss Human activists.

The Symposium aimed to underscore the importance of people-centred and rights-based policies, and brought the global policies, grassroots advocacy, and implementation. The symposium had two parts, speeches and interactive workshops which integrated traditionally and separated developmental sectors under a human rights framework which both reinforced the “Rights of peoples to Peace”

1. Food Workshop: this session introduced critical issues regarding food, development and peace. There was a focused on food as one of the basic elements of sustainable development. The right of food is recognized in international law and not only do all people in conflict situations experience vulnerability and risk with respect to food, but near 900 million people worldwide also confront chronic malnutrition, an millions more experience food insecurity every year. Participants on this workshop were able to make recommendations for advocacy with respect to international policy.

2. The water workshop: The second workshop was more of a dialogue between U.N. experts and those frontline communities struggling to clean, accessible, affordable water. Gender concerns, climate change and violence were incorporated into dynamics of accessibility, affordability and implementation to the Right to water. The Communities of Detroit, Tennesse, Malaysia and Mapuche people ling in Chile shared the on the ground situation and what they see as necessary to implement the Right to water.

3. The Health Workshop had a more rooted discussion and synthesized the various intersections of health with peace and security and development which were based from the concrete experiences from the ground. The workshop also formulated policy and programmatic recommendations that promote people’s right to health and how such rights intersects with peace, security and development in the context of the ongoing global policy discussions on the new Sustainable Development Goals, Security Council High Level of UNSCR1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Harriett Jane Olson from the United Methodist Women Organisation said peace for her is providing educating children and helping them realize their dreams, that people in the world today lack information so much that they allow issues of no substance divides and cause so much havoc which leads to violence and killings in our regions. Harriet urged Faith Based Organizations to not only pray but actively part in ensuring that governments delivers on their promise on access to education for all.

Lakshimi Puri, assistant Secretary –General of the United Nations and deputy Executive Director of UN Women described peace as an ongoing process which begins with self to human security. She mentioned how the majority of people today suffer from different issues relating to mental health, poverty, inequality social injustices. Ms Puri brought to context, issue of Palestine and Israel to context, relating it to what we see happening in most places around the world today. The matter between the two countries and perhaps others, poses a threat to achieving MDG and leaves many in doubt, whether governments has what it takes to protect, support and nurture kgits people. Policies are made to guide people, but it’s up to us as citizens to own and be gatekeepers for our wellbeing, Ms Puri added.

Nyaradzayi Gumbondvanda, World YWCA Secretary- General said for her, peace is Educating a girl child, peace is ending child marriage within a generation, Peace is made by realizing gender equality to both men and women, most importantly peace is made when parents, communities , governments and all citizen play their part in ending violence against women and children…….. She added that understanding peace, we first need to define war and injustice, 39 000 girls are forced into marriages each day, and as long as we don’t see this as crime or wrong, then we are a careless society.

So much said about peace and its fruits, but can the world really be in Peace? When human beings always want what someone else has.  Whether it is land, materials, or natural resources that you have, someone out there wants it, and they are willing to take it from you.  This can even occur when one of the resources that are lacking are people, or a low number of a certain sex of a population.

How can we find peace when we keep imposing people’s beliefs or ideologies upon another group of people that believe differently?  We don’t have to look far, either historically or geographically, to find a war of ideology.  The war of ideology has moved thru history from before the crusades, to present day.  Just look at the Middle East.  People are willing to kill their own family members should they fall from the ideals of the ideals of their religion.  For many humans, the War of Ideals is the single, best reason to kill or die.

The third reason is the one that makes the least amount of sense to me.  Power and domination is the single reason why large-scale war has occurred.  When a country, or many times a single individual covets power and domination, war is usually the only resolution that can occur.  Again history to the present day has shown this to be true.  What does not make sense to me is why people choose to follow such leaders, when they will obviously lead to war, destruction, and death?

The future is young, and the future is female- Plan, Engage, Account, Collaborate and Educate