OSCE Central Asian forum promotes role of women in fostering peace, trust and security

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ASHGABAT, 16 March 2021 - Encouraging an inclusive dialogue on the role of women in maintaining peace and promoting trust was the aim of an OSCE-supported regional forum that took place today virtually.

The OSCE Centre in Ashgabat organized the event in co-operation with the Government of Turkmenistan and with the support of the OSCE Secretariat’s Gender Issues Programme and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The Forum brought together representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and experts from academia, civil society and the private sector.

High-level speakers at the plenary session included OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde; Chairperson of the Mejlis [Parliament] of Turkmenistan Gulshat Mammedova; Chairperson of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Chairperson of the Women Leaders’ Dialogue of Central Asia Tanzilya Narbayeva; OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid; Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalia Gherman; Head of the Delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the OSCE Manizha Bakhtari; OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov; Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Matteo Mecacci and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro.

In her opening speech, Ann Linde, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office stated that the Women, Peace and Security agenda and gender equality are an integral part of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security. She expressed hope that the event would contribute with new ideas and insights on “how we can take concrete steps towards a more equal, diverse and inclusive security sector and more inclusive peace-building in the OSCE region”.

Gulshat Mammedova, Chairperson of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, emphasized the importance of organizing the Forum in the International Year of Peace and Trust declared by the UN at the initiative of neutral Turkmenistan. “The Forum offers an excellent platform for discussions, which will facilitate the development of unified approaches to addressing gender-related issues and will contribute to the strengthening of peace and security by ensuring gender equality,” she stated.

OSCE Secretary General, Helga Schmid stressed: “Women’s participation in peace-building and conflict prevention brings about more sustainable results. There is no shortage of examples of how the OSCE and participating States can join forces and act together to foster women’s role in peace and security. This conference today will help us identify new avenues for co-operation.”

Natalya Drozd, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, moderator of the opening session said: “We initiated the Forum recognizing the important role of women’s involvement in achieving sustainable peace and security. It is our great hope that the Forum will promote increased and systematic implementation of the OSCE gender equality commitments across its three dimensions of comprehensive security.”

The plenary session was followed by four thematic sessions, which encouraged discussions on good practices, challenges and opportunities for women’s participation in political and public life and the security sector, as well as their involvement in the fostering of economic prosperity and protection of human rights.

The Forum resulted in an outcome document that included recommendations for national and regional levels. Some include, increasing women’s political participation at all levels, their active participation in the security sector, and engagement in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The document also outlines mechanisms to strengthen gender equality and develop targeted programmes for fostering women’s economic empowerment as well as to implement programmes focused on the promotion of respect for human rights and tolerance.

Source: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe