Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 9th 2014 Contents A25
letters on a sunday
March 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
International Women s Day is
more than a moment marked
on a calendar. It is a day not just
to renew our determination to
make the world a more peaceful
and prosperous place, but to
recognise that a world where
opportunities for women to grow
is a world where the possibilities
for peace, prosperity, and stability
grow even more.
I see it every single day as
Secretary of State. Even as the
Assad regime s barrel-bombing of
Aleppo continues, showing the
world a brutal regime s true
colours, with every act of courage
and perseverance, Syria s women
show the world their true colours
as well. We heard from some of
these remarkable women in
Montreux just last month.
Their stories spoke to the brav-
ery of countless other Syrian
women. One woman from Idlib
worked with the Free Syrian
Army to ensure that the people
of her village could remain in
their homes and till their own
land. Another woman from Alep-
po got restrictions on humanitar-
ian access lifted by offering food
to regime soldiers at the check-
points. If that isn t courage under
fire, I don t know what is.
It s not just in Syria that
women offer us hope for resolu-
tion to conflict. Women are vital
to our shared goals of prosperity,
stability and peace. That s as true
when it comes to ending our
battles as it is jumpstarting our
economies. The fact is that
women bear the greatest burden
in war. But their voices are too
rarely heard in negotiating peace.
That has to change.
Countries that value and
empower women to participate
fully in decision-making are more
stable, prosperous, and secure.
The opposite is also true. When
women are excluded from nego-
tiations, the peace that follows is
more tenuous. Trust is eroded,
and human rights and accounta-
bility are often ignored.
In too many countries, treaties
are designed by combatants for
combatants. It should come as no
surprise, then, that more than
half of all peace agreements fail
within the first ten years of sig-
nature. The inclusion of women
in peace building and conflict
prevention can reverse that trend.
So how do we get there?
Evidence from around the
world has shown that deadly
conflicts are more likely to be
prevented, and peace best forged
and protected, when women are
included as equal partners.
That s why we are working to
support women in conflict and
post-conflict areas around the
In Afghanistan, we are advo-
cating for the inclusion and elec-
tion of women at all levels of
governance. Afghan women today
are marching forward in ways
unimaginable just ten years ago.
They re starting companies.
They re serving as members of
parliament. They re teaching in
schools and working as doctors
and nurses. They are the founda-
tion upon which Afghanistan s
future is being built.
As the people of Burma work
to resolve the conflict that has
plagued their nation for decades,
the United States is supporting
the meaningful participation of
women in the peace process and
inter-communal peace initiatives.
We know that the security of
women is essential to their par-
ticipation in peace building.
That s why we are working to
ensure women get equal access
to humanitarian assistance and
relief, wherever we work.
The United States is also lead-
ing by example. My sister has
worked for many years at the
United Nations, following in the
State Department footsteps of
our father many years before I
did myself. She s a trailblazer. But
she s not alone. It s no coinci-
dence that some of our top
diplomats and peace negotiators
are women---from National Secu-
rity Advisor Susan Rice, to US
Ambassador to the United
Nations Samantha Power, to
Deputy Secretary of State
Heather Higginbottom, to Under-
secretary of State for Political
Affairs Wendy Sherman. Today,
all but one of the State Depart-
ment s Regional Assistant Secre-
taries are women.
We celebrate their accomplish-
ments not just because they are
women, but because their work
around the world will make all
people---men and women, boys
and girls---more secure.
Peace is not the absence of
conflict. It is the presence of
every member of society working
together to promote stability and
No country can succeed unless
every citizen is empowered to
contribute to its future. And no
peace can endure if women are
not afforded a central role. So
today, we mark the miles women
have travelled around the world---
but more importantly we commit
to the next miles of the journey.
United States Secretary of State
John Kerry United States
Secretary of State
WOMEN KEY TO PEACE AND SECURITY
Revellers enjoying J'Ouvert in Chaguanas. PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
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