The importance of exchanging experience between women activists in Middle East & North Africa
In 7-9 of December, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in coordination with Abaad held their annual MENA Regional Meeting this time in Beirut, Lebanon. The meeting which gathered WILPF’s partner organizations across MENA region was to share national experiences and struggles of the women, peace and security agenda; and successful examples to learn and celebrate. Amongst those examples was ours. We, Together We Build it organisation, WILPF’s long-term partner and ally in Libya, showcased our sustainable major project “1325 Network in Libya”. Rawan (20), Waad (24), and Inas (26), Together We Build it Organisation Team, will tell us about the meeting and share their insights.
What was Maan Nabinha Team doing in Lebanon?
Rawan, Waad & Inas: We were the representatives of the Together We Build it Organisation during WILPF’s MENA Regional Meeting. We had the honor to give two presentations and moderate two panels. One presentation was the national review and the second one was part of the panel “Developing National 1325 Networks” we talked about the experience of “1325 Network in Libya.”
Rawan: In the first session was my turn to present the national review on behalf of the team; it was for five minutes where I reported about the situation of Libyan women in terms of security and the resolution 1325. It was my first time presenting in such settings with all the WPS VIPS and I enjoyed it so much J
Inas: Yeah! Some Participants were from Yemen, Lebanon and Morocco with firsthand experiences doing peace, it was surreal!
Waad: We were receiving and sending support, inspire others and get inspired by their amazing experiences and contributing effectively as much as possible. We worked together to prepare and present a national view of Libyan women situation and present our work in 1325 network in Libya.
But why the Together We Build it Organisation was interested to get involved?
Rawan: We have been the Libyan Partner of WILPF since 2012 so it was very relevant for us to be involved in the regional meeting. Plus, “1325 Network in Libya” was invited as one of the best experiences to follow when it comes to 1325 National Networks and engaging the grassroots of society with UNSCR 1325 as a tool to advocate for women in peacebuilding in the MENA region.
Waad: Rawan said what all can be said, I can’t agree more
We are sure that was pretty exciting! What did you benefit from the meeting?
Rawan: As I said, I never presented professionally before this time and during the meeting I presented twice! I gained good confidence in public speaking and how to organize my thoughts every time I shared a comment.
Inas: For me, I benefited from the network; it was opportunity to make professional-friendships with them.
Waad: The moderation part of Abaad’s session enriched my experiences a lot. In addition to get inspired by their amazing work (the women’s shelter and clinical support projects), it was a first – and great highlight – to be a moderator in such an event. As a team, it was a golden opportunity to expand our network with other regional networks, especially the 1325 Iraqi Network.
Aw WOW! By the way, you mentioned earlier that was not only Libya participated; could you talk about that more?
Rawan, Waad and Inas: The Participants were from some countries of MENA region. In addition to Libya, there were Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. All of the organizations they represent work with WILPF in different projects related to women, peace and security, 1325 resolution and CEDAW.
Inas: The expertise in the room was overwhelming in a good way. I learned a lot from the participants, in particular, the Iraqis whom presented along our side in the panel. Iraq has the first National Plan for the UNSCR 1325. It is a victory for the region, not only for Iraqi and Kurdish women. As in “1325 Network in Libya” we advocate for the implementation of 1325 NAP, we need to learn from the Iraqi and Kurdish experience.
Rawan: For example it was my first time to meet women from Yemen. The media usually do not talk about what is happening in Yemen so often, it was great learning experience for me to understand the situation there and hear women courageous stories to build peace.
Waad: Also, strong Yemini experts with amazing experiences and how they continue their efforts to breakdown the challenges and always look for the best as well as the similarity with Iraqi women’s situation and lessons learned from them.
Awesome! Can you share with the Together We Build it Organisation community your best highlight – Beside enjoying Lebanese food and the beautiful city of Beirut :P- ?