Thousands of women wearing white marched across the desert Sunday to call on leaders to bring an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Sunday’s peace march saw at least 5,000 women participate, Reuters reports.
On Sunday afternoon women of both Palestinian and Israeli origin marched from Israel’s southern Negev region to a “peace tent” erected at the edge of the Jordan River.
The march culminated Sunday night in Jerusalem’s Independence Park. According to Haaretz, an estimated 30,000 people gathered in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence to call on him to draw up a new peace agreement.
"We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war,” Marilyn Smadja, one of the founders of Women Wage Peace, said.
The group now consists of 40,000 people, about 30% of whom are men, according to i24 News.
Group members argue that women should play a bigger role in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We have to do it. No one else is going to do it for us,” an Israeli marcher, Yael Triedel, told CNN. “The leaders didn't manage to do it so far, and it's our responsibility to make it happen."
A study by UN Women found that women are vastly underrepresented in peace negotiations around the world. According to the report, just one in four peace agreements over the last 15 years made reference to women, and in 2011, only half of all peace negotiations included regular consultations with women. (This second number has risen to 88% in 2014, thanks in large part to United Nations Security Council resolution 1325, which recognized “the role of gender equality and women’s leadership in international peace and security.”)
In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the study categorized the influence of women in the peace process as “none to weak.”
In Israel, as of 2015, only one woman served on the country’s security cabinet, according to Forward.
When women’s voices are included in peace talks, the chances that those agreements are long-lasting are significantly higher, according to the UN Women report.
The study found that the probability of a peace deal being sustained over two years increases by 20% when women are represented at negotiations. The probability of a peace deal lasting over 15 years is 35% higher when women are represented at the negotiating table.
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“Men talk, but women do,” a Palestinian woman, Suzann Abed, said of the peace march. “Women have power. I know how strong women are.”