Women’s participation in a peace process is pivotal to a final agreement in order to ensure that peace will be sustainable, two women peace activists, told CNA, ahead of their visit to Cyprus.
“Had we not been present, there would have been many issues missing from the final accord particularly in relation to issues that create a more sustainable peace,” Monica McWilliams and Avila Kilmurray said.
Both women, one from Northern Ireland and one from Ireland, were signatories of the Good Friday Agreement, in 1998.
The women will be in Cyprus from 21-26 September to give a series of lectures.
They said they come here to transfer the lessons from women involved in the Northern Ireland peace process, including the role played in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and the issues involved in implementing the proposals from that agreement.
Comparisons will be made with the Cypriot case in relation to what worked and what could have been done better, they noted.
They will meet women from both sides to discuss how women in Northern Ireland came together to form a Women’s Coalition, a political grouping that managed to reach commonality on women’s issues on both sides.
Monica McWilliams is current Commissioner on the Independent Reporting Commission for the disbandment of paramilitary organisations and remains involved in the implementation of the peace agreement on the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. She has recently completed a large scale study on what difference peace makes to women’s lives in Northern Ireland.
Avila Kilmurray, has 20 years experience in community based work with women`s groups and supporting victims of the Troubles and the reintegration of ex-political prisoners.