The Istanbul Summit 2016 Reconsidering Gender Equality and Peaceful Societies was held in Bangkok on 7-8 May by Journalists and Writers Foundation’s Women’s Platform, in partnership with the Thailand Achievement Institute, African Union and Mahidol University by the National Institute for Child and Family Development to discuss global problems facing women and possible solutions under the theme of gender equality for peace. The event, hosted in Thailand’s capital city, brought together about 300 participants from more than 33 countries. In addition, 44 different supporter organizations contributed to the Summit.
The Summit started with an opening ceremony in which the keynote speeches were delivered by Ms. Roberta Clarke, Regional Director of the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific; and Ms. Tegla Loroupe, former Marathoner, World Champion and Record Holder.
The first session titled “Setting the Framework: (Linking) Sustainable Development and Promotion of Peace” was moderated by Dr. Sawvanee Jitmoud, the Head of Muslim World Policies Center. The session focused on providing a conceptual framework in which peace promotion can be seen as a crucial prerequisite for sustainable development and vice-versa. Inclusion, justice and capacity building are some of the central concepts that were discussed within the context of sustainable development and peace. The speakers for this session were Mr. Youssef Mahmoud, from International Peace Institute; Dr. S. Ayşe Kadayıfçı, from Georgetown University; Dr. Rama Mani, from Oxford University International Studies Center and Prof. Susanne Schröter, from Frankfurt University.
Dr. Semiha Topal of Fatih University was the moderator of the second session titled “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.” This session analyzed the issue of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. Participants coming from different backgrounds discussed the prospects for women’s participation in leadership and decision-making processes, economic opportunities, rights to education and healthcare. Asako Osaki, the Director of Gender Action Platform in Japan; Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia from the Philippines, Dr. Suriyadeo Tripathi from Thailand and Prof. Istar Gozaydın from Izmir Gediz University, delivered speeches during this session.
The last session held on Saturday was titled “Women, Peace and Security” during which UN Senior Analyst Michiko Kuroda, Shamina Shafiq, the Director of India’s Power Foundation, and Sevgi Akarçeşme, the former editor-in-chief of Today’s Zaman newspaper delivered speeches. The session put an emphasis on the issues of women, peace and security. Protection of the rights of women and girls in armed conflicts, and the role that women can play in the process of peace building and conflict prevention were some of the central topics that were discussed in this session.
On Sunday, the participants were divided into the working groups, namely “Women’s Full and Effective Participation and Equal Opportunities for Leadership,” “Good Governance and the Rule of Law,” “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women in Conflict,” and “Women’s Participation and Representation in Various Aspects of Conflict Prevention and Resolution.” The different working groups provided an in-depth analysis of the topics that were mentioned above.
A special session titled “Parliamentary Roundtable: Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality: Next-Steps” was held as a closed session and was organized in which parliamentarians took part. Their main discussion focused on suggesting the next steps in the direction of promoting gender equality, as well as on sharing of different experiences in this regard. 12 parliamentarians from different countries attended this roundtable and prepared a Call for Action.
Last session of the Summit was again on Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality: Next-Steps. Speaking during the session, Permanent Observer to the UN mandated Peace University H.E. Narinder Kakar indicated that the world will see greater fragmentation and contention if international leadership is not made available for all world people, particularly including victimized women and girls, playing emphasis on the responsibility to transform societies. Fazilatun Nasa Bappy, the Member of Bangladesh parliament, explained that women leadership in every area is promoted by government policies in Bangladesh. Pam Roach, the Senator for the State of Washington and Bundith Prathoumvanh, the Member of the National Assembly of Laos were among the speakers.
Dr. Rama Mani performed Theatre of Transformation on “Women Changing the Paradigm of Power: How women are changing governance, law and justice around the world” a Special Performance in which she tells, in an artistic way, stories of women around the world facing problems and how they find solutions to them.
The Summit ended following the reading of three outcome documents: A Final Declaration prepared by the Final Declaration Preparatory Committee consisting of academics and experts, the Working Groups Outcome that summarizes the discussions of the working groups, and a Call for Action that includes the suggestions of the parliamentarians of the parliamentary round table. All these outcomes and results will be submitted to the UN’s relevant agencies and other stakeholders.