On 7th December 2017 at the European Parliament in Brussels, the European Caucasus House (NGO) organized the Conference and Virtual Photo Exhibition of Women’s Monologues in Conflict Zones which was co-hosted by MEPs Sajjad Karim and Heidi Hautala. The project was concentrated on women who have become direct and indirect victims of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and those conflicts over Kashmir, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The purpose of this gathering was to build awareness, momentum and understanding of the importance of women’s participation in the achievement of sustainable peacebuilding. The event allowed participants to learn more about the affected women and children and to experience their feelings and attitudes towards war and peace.

 The program was aimed to recognise women’s rights during the war; eliminate violence against women in conflict-prone areas and support the focus on increasing women’s participation in decision-making, promoting the use of gender perspectives in policy development, strengthening the protection of women affected by conflict and amplifying calls for accountability and advancing the status of women in post-conflict settings.  In the meantime, the program addressed to contribute to securing peace and find long-term resolutions to the frozen and ongoing conflicts.

During the conference chief speakers MEPs Sajjad Karim, Heidi Hautala, Wajid Khan, project Chairperson- Leyla Gasimova, Director of the LINKS organisation – Mr Dennis Sammut, Co-founder of the European Caucasus House- Mrs Lia Jobava, Chairman  of the Kashmir Council Europe- Mr Ali Raza Syed, Trustee of Manchester Multi-faith Center and Co-chair of the Faith Network for Manchester- Mrs Qaisra Shahraz highlighted the importance of the active role of women during the other ongoing conflicts, emphasizing that they should not be neglected in peace negotiations, demobilisation programmes and post-conflict reconstruction. They stressed the importance of listening to civil society, particularly IDP and refugee women, in all deliberations on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and the necessity of making peace negotiations more diverse. By excluding the most affected sides, especially women and girls, in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, we are failing in achieving sustainable peace negotiations. They highlighted the need to continue working closely with development actors to ensure that the needs of all conflicting parties are addressed in a holistic manner, with a focus on finding long-term solutions to conflict and displacement in conflict zones.

Azerbaijani IDP Mrs Vafa Farajova, from Zangilan, one of the seven Azerbaijani regions that are adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh that was occupied by Armenian forces in autumn of 1993, during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, urged States and all those dealing with issues of displacement to recognise their rights and their needs. “Although we have been provided with special measures of protection and assistance, and are being treated equally with non-displaced citizens, I am unable to defend and use my basic rights.”