For its first international conference, Women without Borders (WwB) brings together women from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe to initiate a global platform that makes the concerns of women in areas of war and crisis visible and strengthens the network of the invited women.

Political participation demands political representation. This is the guiding principle of an international women’s movement that has identified political female leadership as the key to a just, equal, and inclusive world. Parliaments and other political establishments in many countries continue to be women-free zones. A glaring absence of women in a country’s political arena points to a power imbalance and is symptomatic of democratic deficits. An inclusion of women, on the other hand, is barometer for political stability and credibility. While male-dominated societies have a poor track record of achieving peace and harmony, a greater inclusion of women promises to lead to a world with a heightened conscience.

Women without Borders (WwB) is a part of this women’s movement and a proponent of its vision. WwB recognises that women’s unequal participation in and influence on politics vis-à-vis their male counterparts have a serious bearing on global security, human rights, women’s rights, and democracy more generally. Against this background, WwB is convening its first internal conference, entitled ‘Women Included! Men can change the world, but will they rebuild it?’

The four-day working conference creates a space for female politicians, activists, and scientists to come together and discuss their aspirations. Following an opening statement by Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Foreign Minister of Austria), 18 female experts–politicians, peace keepers, activists, journalists, and scientists –from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kosovo, Palestine, Senegal, and South Africa begin to discuss the role of women in politics, make public their most pressing concerns, and develop concrete strategies together. In panel presentations, workshops, and breakout groups, participants provide insight into the nature of politics in their countries and share perceived obstacles on the road to democracy. One of the additional goals of this first international WwB event is to refine the ‘Women without Borders Vienna Declaration’.

Participants
Nasra Hassan (Pakistani peacekeeping expert, United Nations, Vienna)
Elaheh Koulaei (Member of Parliament, Iran)
Shadi Sadr (Journalist, Iran)
Ansam T. Abdul Hameed (Al Amal Association, Iraq)
Manal Omar (Women for Women International, Iraq)
Narmin Othman (Kurdish politician, Iraq)
Hero Talabani (Kurdish activist, Iraq)
Soraya ‘Sohbrank’ Rahim (Deputy Women´s Minister, Afghanistan)
Sahar Saba (Revolutionary Association of the Women in Afghanistan, RAWA, Afghanistan)
Maliha Zulfacar (Women and Leadership Program Kabul University, Afghanistan)
Igo Rogova (Chairwoman Kosova Women’s Network, Kosovo)
Sama Aweidah (Director of Women Studies Center, (Palestine)
Naomi Chazan (Peace Coalition, Israel)
Yeal Dayan (Politician, and women´s and human rights expert, Israel)
Hadeel Quazzaz (Sociologist, Palestine)
Pierette Herzberger-Fofana (Gender expert, Senegal/Germany)
Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (ANC Women´s Section, South Africa)
Susan Shabangu (Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy, South Africa)

Moderators
Jaleh Lackner Gohari (Doctor; former medical coordinator, United Nations)
Gudrun Harrer (Journalist at ‘Der Standard’)
Karin Kneissl (freelance journalist)
Sybille Hamann (Journalist at ‘Profil’)

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