Call for women to ‘take a more public role in peacemaking’ at International Women’s Day event at Parliament

More than 150 people attended a Board of Deputies’ International Women’s Day event at Parliament to discuss women’s role in peacemaking.

Baroness Neuberger, the senior rabbi of West London Synagogue, called for women to take “a more public role in peacemaking, adding that they were “too often behind the scenes.”

Melinda Simmons, director of the Conflict Stability and Security Fund, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, pinpointed the tiny proportion of funding which goes to gender-based projects – only one per cent of the aid budget.

Sharon Booth, founder and director of Solutions Not Sides, urged people “not to be too hung up on gender stereotypes” when looking at the roles of women and men in conflict resolution. She spoke about the importance of education in advancing constructive attitudes to peace.

Baroness Helic, a member of the House of Lords International Relations Committee, said that it was a “sad irony” that that women’s rights are often seen as an ‘afterthought’, even though women are usually the greatest victims of conflict and rarely its perpetrators.

The discussion, entitled The XX Factor: Women’s Role in Peace-Making, was chaired by Jessica Elgot, the Guardian’s political correspondent at Westminster.

Deputy Amanda Bowman thanked the speakers at the end of the event, on behalf of the Board of Deputies Social Action Group and Women’s Group.

Also speaking were Theresa Villiers MP and Louise Ellman MP, who jointly sponsored the event.

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