Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan appealed to women, especially mothers, to give their support to the resolution of Turkey's Kurdish issue. "If all the women of this country say 'No' to further mourning our children, then this bloodshed will end". He added that his government doesn't want mothers to fearfully wait for their sons to return from militarily services nor for sons 'trapped within the PKK', the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party.
Prime Minister Erdogan launched a very valuable call, although informally mothers allover the world already play an extreme important role in preventing their men to enter into war or to push them to finally stop the fighting. An equally important call to Prime Minister Erdogan and all the leaders in the world is this: when will you finally invite women to be represented in formal peace processes? In recent peace negotiations women have been representing fewer than 8 percent of participants and fewer than 3 percent of signatories, and NO woman has ever been appointed chief or lead mediator in UN-sponsored peace talks. What a great number of successful peace talks might be ahead of us if we would have 'the soft power' also leading formal peace talks, with new wording, more personal experiences and deeper felt commitment. At home most women have been cleaning for ages up the mess men create for ages, so why not use this experience for the biggest mainly men-made mess ever: wars...
Many women will be more then happy to accept such a formal role, because women increasingly suffer the greatest harm during wars. In contemporary conflicts up to 90 percent of casualties are among civilians, most of who are women and children. Women in war-torn societies can face specific and devastating forms of sexual violence, which are sometimes deployed systematically to achieve military or political objectives. Especially in many African conflicts rape is more and more used as a weapon to break the families and moral of the enemy. Women are also the first to be affected by infrastructure breakdown, as they struggle to keep families together and care for the wounded. Even after conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence persist, including unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigmatization.
I happen to know two wonderful women who have been at the forefront of peace building for decades and who show how much inspiration and result this can bring: Mary Robinson and Angelique Kidjo. Mary was the first female elected president of Ireland; she's a member of The Elders and the High Representative on Human Right at The United Nations. Angelique is from Benin and the most famous female singer of Africa. On the International Women's Day, March 8, 2013 they launched this very spontaneous and heartfelt video in which world leader and top artist both rehearse Lennon's Imagine. And they announce that they will sing this song during the upcoming MasterPeace Concert on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, probably held in Turkey. So yes Prime Minister Erdogan, at least these two great women are coming to support the peace process!