Highlights of our Work in 2023: Women Influencing Change

Outcome 2: Women Influencing Change 

Bringing Women’s Voices to the Munich Security Forum 

In 2023 for the first time NWI took part in the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a leading global platform for international security attended by world leaders and policy makers. The conference is male dominated and the focus leans more to militarization as a means of achieving peace.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee was an invited guest and speaker of the conference and side events organized by BMW Foundation. Through her participation NWI facilitated the participation of ten young women activists in a space typically inaccessible to civil society. Young women activists advocated, built networks and shared important and necessary but absent perspectives. Crucially, on the main stages of the MSC Leymah Gbowee challenged audiences to reassess perceptions of security as more than the absence of war and recognize and ensure the contributions of women to peacebuilding.

MSC Conference 2023 Leaders at the 2023 MSC
Discussion at the 2023 MSC MSC Conference

To relive some memories, have a look at the photo album.

Reflections by our Advocacy Coordinator on the MSC 2023: 

Raising the Alarm About Increasing Gender Apartheid 

It is not a coincidence that in a world marred by conflict, women are experiencing a rise in systemic exclusion and discrimination. Throughout the year NWI drew attention to the rise of state perpetrated attacks on gender equality through discriminatory laws and policies, a phenomenon increasingly called gender apartheid, and the risks that poses not only to women, but to democracies, to freedom, and to peace.

In September NWI, in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy in Washington DC, held an event entitled “Feminist Resistance in the Face of Erosions of Women's Rights” to raise awareness about the growth of this trend. The event, opened by Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, was followed by a high-level panel discussion with Nobel Peace Prize laureates Tawakkol Karman and Shirin Ebadi, together with Afghan leader Wahida Salaam, and moderator Anne-Marie Goetz. Around 150 people were present at the event, including high-level US government representatives such as the Special Envoy for Yemen, Special Envoy for Iran, and State Secretary for Global Women’s Issues.

Representatives of several embassies were also present, as were journalists, most notably the Washington Bureau Chief of The Guardian. Follow up from the event included bilateral meetings with the US Special Envoys for Yemen and Iran, along with two US State Departments.

Tawakkol Karman during the Feminist Resistance in the Face of Erosions of Women's Rights event Shirin Ebadi during the Feminist Resistance in the Face of Erosions of Women's Rights event
A speaker during the Feminist Resistance in the Face of Erosions of Women's Rights event speakers at the Feminist Resistance in the Face of Erosions of Women's Rights event

See more photos of the event here.

Advocating for Feminist Peace 

The laureates continuously use their voices to highlight that peace is never just the absence of war. Peace is also justice, equality, respect for human dignity and diversity. Sustainable peace embodies conditions which enable all people to reach their full potential. Such a vision of peace is impossible without meaningful inclusion of women. We know from countless examples in history, that when women lead or are included in peace building processes, peace lasts longer.

Throughout the year, NWI used the Nobel Peace Prize laureates’ voice and platform to respond to and advocate for feminist peace. Among our advocacy efforts, NWI issued a statement calling for a ceasefire, the protection of civilians, and considerations for the gendered impact of conflict in Gaza. We focused advocacy in support of South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice as well as to reinstate and ensure aid to human rights organizations in the Occupied Territories in particular. NWI also supported efforts by laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum to draw attention to extended attempts to prevent a democratic transition of power in Guatemala.