Empowering Armenian and Azeri women to take part in society and in peace negotiations
The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation (Swedish for ‘woman to woman’) works with local women’s organisations in Armenia and Azerbaijan to increase women’s power and influence in society and in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325).
This initiative, part of the EPNK-2 phase, includes the Armenian organisations Democracy Today and the Women’s Resource Centre, along with the Azerbaijani organisations the Association for Protection of Women’s Rights and Yuva Humanitarian Centre. The groups educate women on human rights and public participation, as well as helping to combat violence against women, empower young women and encourage feminist activity.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani women activists (who include Armenian women from Nagorno-Karabakh as well as Azerbaijani women from Karabakh who are internally displaced persons (IDPs)) organise meetings and trainings for women in their local communities. Together, they try to build links between the women in divided communities and strengthen their NGO cooperation in joint meetings.
In the Caucasus region, women’s role in the ongoing formal peace process has been absent. Moreover, important reconciliation initiatives by women are often not taken seriously in national politics. Armenian and Azerbaijani women activists face many challenges and have limited opportunities to take part in decision-making processes and public life.
When Kvinna till Kvinna’s partner organisations from different groups affected by the conflict first met, the tensions were high. However, over time an understanding of shared problems emerged. The organisations have now developed a high level of trust and work together for shared goals to increase women’s participation in the peace process.
Joint strategy for women
Based on the women’s meetings, a joint advocacy strategy has been developed for the Minsk Group. This strategy urges political actors involved in peace negotiations to pay special attention to key issues, such as:
- Increasing women’s political participation in decision making through special temporary measures such as quotas;
- Increasing women’s participation in peace talks (such as their representation in the OSCE/Minsk Group talks) and making gender sensitive training available to all participants involved in talks on this region;
- Ensuring support for women who are victims of violence;
- Protecting the human rights of IDPs and refugees;
- Protecting the safety of women and children living in the border areas of the conflict zones.