Women should have a more active role in conflict solution, as peace builders and survivors, rather than victims, according to a report by Romanian Liberal Norica Nicolai. During a hearing in the Women's Committee 14 June, MEPs and some members of the military discussed getting women more involved. "In order to succeed, we must share responsibility with men and empower women," Ms Nicolai said.
Despite proposals to increase the number of women involved in peacekeeping operations, not much progress has been made. Almost 90% of the European Security and Defence Policy civilian peacekeepers are men, while over the last two years only 10-16% of the personnel in EU peacekeeping operations have been women.
"War (and its resolution) has so far been an institution led by men. The participation of women in conflict-solving is one of the very basic steps we have to take," Spanish Green Romeva i Rueda said.
"A lasting peace can't be built if half of the population can't participate in peace-building. The same men who started the war are negotiating the peace," said former MEP and ambassador for disarmament Maj Britt Theorín, speaking for UNIFEM Sweden. "Does the EU believe that only men can keep the peace?"
Women as peacekeepers
"It is very important to have more women in peacekeeping and police missions," in part because they provide very positive role models, Elisabeth Rehn from the International Criminal Court said.
While Danish army captain Anne Cathrine Riebnitzsky spoke about the difficulty of getting women involved in peacekeeping in places like Afghanistan, where they are oppressed and could face death for even talking to foreign troops.
Ilda Figueiredo, a Portuguese member of GUE/NGL, underlined the importance of "education for peace and knowledge of legal rights...we must insist on a bigger participation of women in the strengthening of diplomacy".
Women as victims
The traditional role of women in war is as a victim. Sexual assaults have become a war tactic and the victims often face stigmatisation and exclusion, Bulgarian EPP member Mariya Nedelcheva noted.
"Women don't want to be called victims, but survivors; they don't want to be looked down on they want to be society builders," Ms. Rehn said.