21st Annual Women's Conference for Peace in the Middle East July 5-7, 2017 in Vienna, Austria. Representatives from 18 nations in the Middle East as well as delegates from Korea, Japan and several European countries attended, which was held at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna. The conference, which is mainly sponsored by WFWP Japan, is focused on empowering women in their efforts as peacemakers in their communities.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Honoring Women’s Important Contribution to Peace and in Creating Sustainable Environments during this Precarious Time in the Middle East”, attracted high quality speakers and leaders in the fields of government, business, academics and the NGO sector.
The opening panel included both the current and former presidents of WFWPI, the co-chair of the conference Dr. Amal Osman, and Jean-Luc Lemahieu, director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC in Vienna.
The SDGs were connected to the various sessions held over two days, including the goal of quality education. Dr Sakena Yacoobi and Dr Hanan Al Hroub both shared their unique contributions to peace through education in Afghanistan and the West Bank, respectively, which led to the discussion of a peace curriculum as a valuable resource for all the participants. As more and more women spoke of their remarkable work in promoting peace in their societies, a spirit of hope arose in the participants, in spite of the many challenges in the Middle East region.
Women leaders networked and made plans to coordinate their activities as the momentum build up, and it felt like a turning point had been reached, particularly with the mothers from Israel and Palestine. Observers of the conference who had come from Vienna and from Japan were able to witness firsthand the power of women participating in peace and development. WFWP will strive to continue these efforts in the future.