On Thursday, March 28th, 2019 Georgetown University hosted its second annual 2019 Women’s Forum at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The two-day forum convened panels and discussions with experts in law, business, policy, science, technology, government, and the wider public sector.
Dr. Reem Al-Ansari, Director of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center in Doha, Qatar and a graduate of Georgetown Law, was featured as an expert on the panel “Women in Peace Negotiations.” The panel was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, and featured fellow panelists Uzra Zeya, Rachel Milner Gillers.
“Women play a key role in advocating for and maintaining peace around the world. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security says that women are largely excluded from conflict related negotiations, despite evidence that they are critical to achieving sustainable peace. Join us for lunch and a conversation about the role women play in peace negotiations and the importance of their expanded presence in the field.”
Dr. Al-Ansari spoke to the audience on her experience as a female leader in anti-corruption efforts in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East. She reported that in the Gulf region over the past decade, there has been a fundamental paradigm shift in thinking on a woman’s role in society, business, education, civil society, and government. Women have empowered themselves to engage in the most senior levels of these sectors, to the betterment of humanity. For example, in Qatar, woman now compose the majority of higher education students and hold seats in the Shoura Council, cabinet, and head major businesses and civil society groups.
Dr. Reem also mentioned “the #MeToo movement in the West is something that has enlightened women’s empowerment in the Middle East, and we are trying to replicate the lessons of that movement in our own societies. This is essential to advancing women’s roles in power structures, while holding everyone more accountable.”
Dr. Al-Ansari reported that when women are active participants critical dialogues, the outcomes tend to have higher success rates than without their participation. For example, Dr. Al-Ansari was tasked with interviewing high-risk youth involved with extremist organizations in Europe. She found that she was able to gain the trust of the male interviewees, and extract more information, than her male counterparts. As a result, female leadership proved vital to counter-extremism efforts in the region.
Overall however, female inclusion in peacemaking and peace negotiations is very low – less than 10% globally. When women do participate, they tend to build trust more effectively, forge compromises, and are more likely to be viewed as honest brokers than their male negotiator counterparts. The panel noted that when women are implementors of peace processes, evidence indicates that there is less corruption, less frivolous spending, and more durable peace plans.