The Australian Civil-Military Centre hosted a meeting, on August 2, 2017, with the International President of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Dr. Kozue Akibayashi to discuss women peace and security in a changing geopolitical context. Attended by stakeholders from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Office for Women, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss WILPF’s advocacy on women peace and security, the role of civil society organisations in the development of Japan’s National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security and Dr Akibayashi’s peace activism in Asia and the Pacific.
WILPF is the oldest women’s peace activism organisation, established in 1915 in the midst of World War I. The organisation has national sections in every continent and brings together diverse women from around the globe to work for peace through non-violent means and promote gender equality and social justice for all.
Dr. Akibayashi took over as the organisation’s International President in 2015. She is a feminist researcher and activist at the Graduate School of Global Studies, Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. In her research and activism she adopts a gendered approach to analysing militarisation, demilitarisation and decolonisation. She is also a member of the International Women’s Network Against Militarisation.
At the meeting Dr Akibayashi highlighted the vital contributions of civil society organisations, in particular women’s organisations, to peace and security. Similar to the Australian experience, the Japanese National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security relies heavily on the advocacy, knowledge and expertise of women’s civil society organisations to inform both policy and actions in this space. She spoke of both the symbolic and tangible roles that civil society organisations can play in advocating for a focus on conflict prevention as being fundamental to building peaceful societies. As an example, she shared her experience of participating in an historic event when 30 international women peacemakers from 15 countries crossed the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea together with Korean women from both sides of the border making a powerful call for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Dr Akibayashi will be in Australia and New Zealand from 1-8 August 2017 on behalf of WILPF for discussions on women, peace and security in Asia and the Pacific, specifically the role and contribution of civil society to promoting peace, gender equality and social justice. During her visit to Australia she met with several government representatives and civil society organisations as well as presenting at a public forum hosted by the Australian National University. In New Zealand she will be involved in regional discussions with WILPF members and will attend the commemoration of Hiroshima Day on 6 August 2017.