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Second OPAPRU peace research centers on women’s role in building and sustaining peace

PASIG CITY– As part of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity’s annual celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month, the OPAPRU held the 2nd Peace Research Conference, which centers on the theme, “Ending Conflicts: Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace” at the Chardonnay by Astoria event center last September 2 to 3.

The 2nd Peace Research Conference has focused on various researches focusing on the Philippine Women, Peace and Security Agenda and the vital role of women in conflict resolution and transformation. The research outputs will serve as supplementary to the sunset review of the 3rd generation and Security NAPWPS and additional recommendations on the crafting of the 4th generation National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS) this year.

“This year’s peace conference shines the spotlight on research work conducted on the Philippine women, peace and security agenda, recognizing the vital role of women in conflict resolution and transformation,” OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said in his keynote speech.

“These studies can help inform policies and programs for peace. Specifically, they will serve as supplementary inputs to the sunset reviews of the third-generation national action plan on women, peace and security and recommendations and inputs in the crafting of the fourth generation NAPWPS to be done this year,” Galvez added.

The Annual OPAPRU Peace Research Conference, which started in 2021, was organized to broaden the constituency for peace and serve as a platform for knowledge co-creation and evidence-based conversation on peacebuilding, conflict, and security concerns. Through the Conference, OPAPRU encourages academics, civil society members, national and local governments to conduct more peacebuilding-related researches that will inform the Government’s peace policies and programs. The Peace Research Conference is also seen as an opportunity for the Agency to engage with other academics and researchers who can help in attaining the vision of a just and lasting peace for the nation and for all Filipinos; this will help in advancing knowledge on peace and elevating national conversations on peace work, peacebuilding, and peace and security.

Guest speaker Miriam Coronel Ferrer talked about the importance of women’s participation in the peace process as well as the challenges and consequences of achieving greater inclusion of women in the peace agenda.

“Good representation of women can really benefit the whole process. If we include the gender agenda in the process and take welfare into account, the process would be more structural and inclusive,” she said, while also cautioning against essentializing men and women in gendered roles, such as opening opportunities for women only to confine them in traditionally feminine spaces. She concludes that meaningful participation that is inclusive and intersectional is the true essence of expanding spaces for gender responsive peace processes.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was the former peace negotiator and the chair of the peace panel of the Government of the Philippines during the time of President Simeon Benigno Aquino III. She signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on behalf of the government, and remains to be the first and only female in the world to sign a major peace accord.

Ferrer in her speech also cited the peace process milestone in the Philippine government.

“We have passed the ten-year landmark kasi sa statistics around the world, only 50% of peace agreements have been sustained beyond the ten years and we are doing quite well on that front even though very slowly but surely,” she said.

During its first run in 2021, the Peace Research Conference centered on “Post-conflict Normalization in the Context of the National Peace and Transformation Agenda: Challenges and Prospects.” It focused on the prospects and challenges of the normalization process in conflict-affected and conflict-vulnerable areas across different conflict lines.

Among the plenary speakers was the President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo.

Bernardo in her talk, underscored women empowerment and inclusivity.

“Women empowerment has to be a real part of any plan of action, inclusivity has been brought up and we congratulate OPAPRU for having a youth peace and security plan because in the sectoral consultations that we had with the ASEAN groups those questions come out all the time,” she said.

“If you really invest in women’s capacity, only then the peace dividends are maximized,” she added.

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