Goals of India Meeting

    Article from Christian Science Monitor about India Conference

    3/7/2008 edition


    Women leaders from 45 nations meet in India this week to
    discuss their role in conflict resolution.

    By Mark Sappenfield | Staff writer of The Christian Science

    NEW DELHI - Sakena Yacoobi well knows the hardships of Afghan
    women, caught between a war and the hopelessness of poverty
    and illiteracy.

    Yet on International Women's Day Saturday, the Afghan educator
    will not ask the world to help Afghan women. Instead, she will ask
    Afghan women to help the world.

    In a time of growing conflict around the world, she believes the
    wisdom and compassion of women can offer a way out. "Women
    bring tolerance and patience," she says. "Women can bring
    solutions – we cannot accomplish that with weapons."

    She is one of several hundred prominent female leaders from 45
    countries who have come to India this week to seek ways to raise
    women's voices worldwide, hoping that their ideas – so often
    ignored – begin to move the world away from war.

    It is a unique approach to International Women's Day – and
    intentionally so, says Dena Merriam, who has organized "Making
    Way for the Feminine," a five-day conference that began Thursday
    in Jaipur.

    "This is not about empowering women," says Ms. Merriam, who
    also co-chaired the United Nations' Millennium World Peace
    Summit in 2000. "It is about how women can transform society to
    help us find new ways of addressing conflict."

    There are men here, too. The goal, participants say, is not to
    antagonize men. Yet each believes that women bring to the issue
    of conflict resolution a different perspective. Many liken it to that
    of a mother, stern but caring, and more open to finding alternatives
    to violence.

    That perspective is sorely needed, they say, as the path of power
    and aggression has led only to more fighting and division. "The
    feminine gifts of compassion, empathy, and caring prepare women
    for the urgent role as leaders and reconcilers," said the Rev. Joan
    Brown Campbell, chairwoman of the Global Peace Initiative for Women,