The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation organised the Conference on Feminist Peace in the Western Balkans between March 21st and March 23rd 2023 in Skopje, North Macedonia, in continuation of the last year's digital "Feminist Peace Conference”.
More than 110 women, women human rights defenders, feminist activists, activists and academics from across the Western Balkans, Ukraine, South Caucasus, Iraq, and Sweden gathered to discuss some of the most burning issues in the context of today’s global situation, reiterating the calls to the international community to live up to its many commitments. This especially refers to the inclusion of women in all processes focused on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
The conference was organised in cooperation with partner organisations and addressed women’s rights and feminist organisations’ role in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. The event also marked 30 years of resilience—this year Kvinna till Kvinna celebrates 30 years since its founding in the Western Balkans.
Kvinna till Kvinna’s secretary-general, Petra Tötterman Andorff welcomed all participants to the conference with the message that “Feminist peace means inclusivity and security for all.”
First two days of the conference were dedicated to deliberations and exchanges with and among women human rights defenders, activists and academics, who discussed feminist peace and security, memory politics and memory activism, the root causes of structural violence and power inequalities, the consequences of lack of funding for women civil society organisations, highlighting the power of women’s rights and feminist organisations to generate social change.
Activists shared the message that “We all have a chance and right to peace and we must do everything in our power to build a better future of lasting peace for all—feminist peace!”
The event also hosted Cynthia Enloe, the American feminist academic who expressed concern for the current global situation, while stressing the importance of feminist peace, saying “If there is one thing we have learned—‘one size fits all’ is somebody’s oppressive fantasy. It is not a feminist perspective.”
The key topics addressed during the last day of the conference, on March 23rd were funding for conflict transformation, shrinking civic space and call to action for lasting feminist peace. Some of the key messages conveyed by activists from the Western Balkans were:
“We have learned the lesson that peace is fragile, which is why it’s important to talk about feminist peace.”
“Fund women who build peace and you will see miracles.”
“If you pay for war instead of for peace, that’s what you’ll get.”
The Swedish Ambassador to North Macedonia, Her Excellency Ms. Ami Larsson Jain joined the conference on the last day, stressing the need to defend the women human rights defenders and pushing for women’s role as actors for sustainable peace.
The first lady of North Macedonia, Ms. Elizabeta Gjorgievska also took part in the event and showed support for the women’s rights and feminist civil society organisations.
More than 60 representatives of international organisations such as UN Women, OSCE, Council of Europe, international non-governmental organisations, embassies, academic institutions participated in the conference and had the opportunity to listen to the experiences, and expertise of the activists who urged for investments in lasting peace—feminist peace.
Petra Tötterman Andorff, secretary-general of Kvinna till Kvinna, concluded the conference by urging the donors to fund peace, stating that “If this is done, then there will be no limits to the changes that women are going to make.”
She also used the opportunity to thank everyone who took part in the conference, also highlighting that “If we do this fight together—changes will happen.”
The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation’s secretary-general, Petra Tötterman Andorff opened the digital Feminist Peace Conference in Western Balkans on June 16th 2022 with the statement: “As stated in Kvinna till Kvinna’s global strategy, ‘feminist peace’ is the approach to peace and security that seeks to address the root causes of structural violence and power inequalities, while simultaneously working towards gender equality.”