February 26, 2009

Mavic Cabrera Balleza & Helena Gronberg


The International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, co-convened by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland, will take place 7-8 March, 2009 in Monrovia, Liberia.   It is expected to bring together some 800 participants reflecting a cross section of society nationally and internationally including current and former heads of state, high-level government officials, market women from Liberia, youth, academics, NGOS and representatives from intergovernmental organizations.


The colloquium is being organized to address the following goals:

GOAL 1: Empower women to be more effective leaders by linking with their peers from around the world and sharing best practices

This aim looks at strengthening the achievements of women leaders in conflict-affected areas as well as building global networks and facilitating collective action among women in these areas. It will develop effective models of economic empowerment and decent work for women and men and engage young people in supporting and embracing women’s empowerment, leadership development and contributions to international peace and security.


GOAL 2: Support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Through discussions and events on Resolution 1325, this aim will lead to a review of methods and strategies for engaging women in peace negotiations and examine the impact that women have had on peace processes, including women’s priority issues during peace negotiations. In addition, discussions on Resolution 1325 will examine the gender-responsiveness of the justice sector in post conflict context. This will include an assessment of strategies that work in ensuring women’s access to justice in post-conflict situations. A number of side events, including a 1325 media showcase and a peace tent, will also be organized to complement the Colloquium discussions and allow for networking and exchange of experiences and strategies, particularly among NGOs. The International Women’s Tribune Centre is acting as the NGO convener on the 1325 aspect of the colloquium.


GOAL 3. Contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 3 on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (MDG 3);

This goal will focus on sharing lessons learned in reaching MDG 3 across regions and adapt strategies from other countries to the Liberian context, especially related to political participation and gender-based violence.


GOAL 4: Demonstrate the clear gender dimensions of climate change, environment protection and sustainable development;

The fourth goal aims at strengthening women’s participation in sustainable development, especially in developing sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. It will strive to make women leaders aware of the important role of women in the management of natural resources as well as the linkage between gender and climate change.


GOAL 5: Launch the Angie Brooks International Centre on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, Peace and Security in Monrovia to support the implementation of action emerging from the Colloquium through but not limited to training and research.

Goal 5 will culminate in the Launch of the Angie Brooks International Centre on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which will be based on the University of Liberia campus in Monrovia. Through training to empower current and future women leaders, research, analysis and advocacy on women’s leadership, the centre will work to sustain the results of the colloquium.


- Women’s Leadership and Launch of Initiatives by Women are Key Features of Colloquium

A major thrust of the colloquium is to create an environment for women to discuss, learn, demonstrate and act on the benefits and lessons learned from women in leadership. It will be organized into three plenary sessions followed by concurrent thematic sessions, break-out groups and side events. It is anticipated that one of the outcomes of the colloquium will be a Call to Action and it is highly likely that other declarations or plans of action will be agreed upon. 


One of the issues to be explored during the two days of deliberation is how women’s leadership makes a difference—if it does.  Underscoring this issue is the panel entitled “The Great Debate:  We Have Wasted Our Time Pushing for More Women in Decision-making Positions – They are Indifferent to the Concerns of Women” with respondents arguing the question from both sides.


Whatever the outcome of the debates, it is clear that the Liberian colloquium will serve as a launch pad for several important initiatives including:

-         the launch of the Angie Brooks International Centre on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, Peace and Security;

-         the launch of the SCR 1325 Liberian National Action Plan; and

-         The International women’s Tribune Centre will also take advantage of the opportunity to meet with its partners to discuss the formation of the Women Peace Builder’s Community of Practice (WPBCoP). The WPBCoP is a network that unites the initiatives and engagements of women’s peace advocacy groups that will increase their outreach, accentuate the multiplier effect and to enhance the collective impact of women’s peace building advocacy and action.


It is expected that the Liberian colloquium will also be a “seedbed” for a number of other initiatives demonstrating the potential of women’s leadership for change and stimulating action both within Liberia as well as in other countries.  The Angie Brooks International Centre will serve as the institutional focal point for follow up to the colloquium. 


- Emerging Leaders Forum for Youth

With a focus on orienting young women to the main thematic areas of the colloquium and providing them with skills and opportunities to network with each other and the presidents of the co-convening countries, a pre-colloquium forum for youth will unfold on March 6. This event is expected to gather 80 young women, including 40 participants from countries other than Liberia and 40 from Liberia. Discussions and conversations at the forum aim at exploring the main themes and formulating responses based on the y0uth’s experiences, thoughts and knowledge, all towards the development of a youth resolution which will be presented during colloquium.


The possibility of forming an International Youth Consortium, concerned with follow-up and evaluation of progress towards the implementation of the colloquium’s outcome document, will also be explored. Further, the consortium will enable communication and continued linkages between participants and will explore linkages with the Angie Brooks Center to ensure sustainability.


On the evening of March 6, Liberian youth participating in the forum will treat their international partners to a night of festivities celebrating the rich Liberian culture, including music, arts, drama and food.  


For more information on all colloquium-related topics, visit:  http://womenscolloquium.org/index.html



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