International Day of Peace:

On the International Day of Peace 2023: Strengthen women’s networks for peace

This year’s International Day of Peace is a call to action. “Peace,” says United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “is not automatic. Peace is a result of action.” On this International Day, the UN recognises that it is “our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace.” We agree. For us, this call to action is about recognising the transformative power of networks and about fostering and making effective use of the particular collective power of women’s networks to achieve a peaceful and just world.

It is high time that women’s networks are recognised as collective forces for positive change and peaceful transformation.

We support and leverage networks with the knowledge that gender-just collective action breaks with patriarchal visions of hierarchical leadership. Women’s movements for peace have always been based on the principle of collaborative action for a greater good. This is visible, for example, in countries like Colombia or the Philippines where women are at the forefront of civil action for peace.

In recent years, across the globe, women’s rights are being eroded and their safe spaces are shrinking. Blatantly in Afghanistan and steadily in countries where reproductive rights, rights to equal representation and equal pay, unhindered access to health care, education and safe virtual and physical spaces are infringed. These erosions of women’s rights are an attempt to curtail their ability to participate in society and to limit their room for action. Against this backdrop, it is clear why, like most of the other 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 5 on gender equality will not be reached by 2030. But being pushed to the fringes must galvanize women and women’s organisations into action. One effective tool for action is building networks.

For this reason, we join the UN’s call on this International Day of Peace to remind the international community, governments and activists alike that it is not individuals who achieve peace, it is networks, groups and alliances. We have seen again and again in our work how women have forged links in their communities and built networks across religious and political differences, socio-economic backgrounds and across nations. Pushed out of centres of power by patriarchal structures, they find strength and safety in collective action, in sharing experiences and exchanging visions and strategies.

With our partners and through Women’s Peace Tables we support inclusive and broad-based collaboration and collective action because we see that these networks are largely untapped resources for peace. It is high time in this age of man-made cataclysmic catastrophes that networks, in particular women’s networks, are recognised as collective forces for positive change and peaceful transformation. They are an indispensable tool for feminist peacebuilding – and a key resource for achieving the 2030 Agenda and accelerating progress towards the SDGs. The transformative power of networks must be recognised and the particular collective power of women's networks supported and used effectively, for a peaceful and just world.

PeaceWomen Across the Globe, 21 September 2023