[Philippines] Irene Santiago: women are vital peacemakers

Gregory M. Lamb – Christian Science Monitor – Monday, 17 February 2014 (originally published 12 Feb)

Irene Santiago
[P]eople have to see that there can be no durable peace without women. It’s not possible,’ says Irene Santiago, an activist on peace negotiations and the role of women in them.
Image: Courtesy of the Institute for Inclusive Security
As a young woman Irene Santiago came to New York City from The Philippines to study journalism at Columbia University. Today as a world-renowned expert on conflict negotiation and the crucial role women can play in that field she still draws on her reporter’s training.

When she’s searching for an approach to a negotiation, a way to “make sense of all these seemingly unrelated events,” she says, “I write a lead paragraph in my head… It really points you toward a strategy.”

Ms. Santiago is probably best known for her role in negotiating a lasting ceasefire between Muslim separatists and the Philippines government – and for organizing a seminal 1995 conference on women’s issues in Beijing that drew 30,000 participants. Today she continues to champion both causes in her native Philippines and around the world . . .

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