What the Women Say | 5th Annual Forum in Sri Lanka

ICSAN and Womens Alliance for Security Leadership Forum

Preventing Extremism by Promoting Rights, Peace and Pluralism

International Civil Society Action Network and the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership convenes 5th Annual Forum in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 11-15, 2016

More than 70 women peacebuilders, activists and practitioners from 28 countries met to share their experiences and best practices in countering violent extremism. The challenges that women human rights defenders and peace activists face have not abated since last year. Politically motivated violence, the use of religion to condone intolerance and attacks, as well as economic hardships and unending insecurity directly effect women and girls. But neither the threat of open warfare nor closing civil society spaces and regressive legislation have prevented women’s activism and commitment to providing services, speaking up for marginalized populations, and creating safe spaces for dialogue within their communities and at the regional and international level. At community, national and international levels women are shaping discourses and influencing policies.

At the Forum, women and women-led organizations developed strategies and recommendations to policymakers about how to shift attitudes and promote rights, peace and pluralism. Strategies identified included the use of alternative religious and cultural narrative, peace and civic education, de-radicalization and rehabilitation of fighters, reconciliation among and within communities, and ending stigma and supporting victims of sexual and gender-based violence. This annual forum is part of ICAN’s strategy to facilitate the horizontal connection between women peace actors for interregional lessons-learning and peer-to-peer exchange. OSF Director, Sahana Dharmapuri, participated in the Forum. OSF, UNDP, the Norwegian Government, and Sri Lankan officials supported the participation of women peacebuilders and activists.