Creating Political Will for Women in Peace: Video Interview with Irene Santiago

The greatest threat to peace and security today is the “marginalization and invisibility of women,” according to Irene Santiago, Lead Convener of the Women Seriously global campaign on women, peace and security.

Ms. Santiago has significant personal experience in peace negotiations from her time on the Philippines government panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from 2001 to 2004. She was also responsible for organizing the 1995 NGO Forum on Women in China—a companion event to the landmark UN Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing.

She said that violence and war result from the breakdown of relationships, and that women can help overcome these by creating life experiences that are nurturing and harmonious.

Ms. Santiago said increasing the involvement of women in peace and security is a matter of “political will” and there is no longer a question of whether women have the expertise to be involved in the process. She urged the United Nations to resolve this impasse.

“It means that for us … a political and social movement has to push the UN, because that’s what it takes to influence anything,” she said. “It is a political question, and therefore a social and political movement must push for it. That’s the main agenda for this century.”

“I think we have to go back to basic beliefs of governance: that you are there because you are the servants of the people. If that is what the United Nations will stand on, then those policies and laws, those legal instruments they make here, will be implemented at home.”

The interview was conducted by Marie O’Reilly, Editor and Research Fellow at the International Peace Institute.