On September 8, nearly 30,000 Israeli and Palestinian women participated in a two-week Peace March through the desert. This Peace March was organized by Women Wage Peace, an organization devoted to promoting a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine.
This event began in 2014 in response to the war in Gaza. Individuals from both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict felt that their political leaders were not approaching the problem in an effective manner. A participant from this year’s Peace March discussed their leaders’ inability to come to a peaceful resolution in 2014, “We have to do it. No one else is going to do it for us. The leaders didn’t manage to do it so far, and it’s our responsibility to make it happen.”
There were a number of events throughout the two-week period, ending with the Peace March which concluded in Independence Park in Jerusalem. Participants carried signs promoting peace and a banner stating, “We’re not stopping without an agreement.” Women wore white as a show of their support for a peaceful agreement between the two groups.
This movement has successfully gained support from women on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, it did not occur without opposition. Many Palestinians have claimed that this event did not include a call for equal rights for both groups. The Peace March was not open to individuals from Palestine unless they obtained permits, creating a source of frustration.
In addition to promoting a peaceful agreement, women also marched for a right to equal representation in the process of developing a resolution. A representative from Women Wage Peace stated, “We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war.”
The United Nations says women play key roles in conflict and peace, but are often left out from peace negotiations. In 31 of the most important peace processes between 1992 and 2011, women made up less than 3 percent of chief mediators and 9 percent of negotiators. Women often play creative roles in preventing and resolving conflict as facilitators in re-building societies, caretakers of those affected by war, and influencers to armed groups and civilians.
Media Sources: CNN 10/9/17, Women Wage Peace, The Independent 10/8/17, IMEMC News 10/11/17, +972 Magazine 10/8/17; United Nations