Belfast, United Kingdom—This week, seven global women leaders gathered in Belfast, Northern Ireland to address the role of women in building peace and security. The event took place against the backdrop of a range of security challenges around the world, and highlighted an emerging body of evidence that women are a vital component of successful peacebuilding.
Participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Nigeria, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan participated in the program co-hosted by the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) and the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas. Northern Ireland’s peace process, and the role of women in the negotiations that ended the 30-year conflict, provided a framework for the program and showed the power of a consensus-driven peace and security agenda that was inclusive of women.
“We’re proud to have brought together this truly remarkable group of women from around the world,” said WDN director Valerie Dowling. “Northern Ireland is an important example of the vital role women have to play in forging and keeping the peace.”
WDN also marked the occasion by presenting former politician Monica McWilliams with a “10 for 10” award in recognition of her leadership during Northern Ireland’s peace process. Dowling remarked, “We were privileged to learn from Monica McWilliams’ experience, and are pleased to honor her with a ‘10 for 10’ award for her years of public service.”
Monica McWilliams is currently Professor Emeritus in the Transitional Justice Institute at The University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. She also serves on a three-person panel established by the Northern Ireland government to make recommendations on the disbandment of paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland. During the Northern Ireland peace process, McWilliams co-founded the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party, served as a delegate to the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations and as a member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly. She is a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement.