CMI event in Brussels: High-Level Panel Discussion on “Women as Political Agents in Peace Processes”

Published on Thursday, 8th of December 2022


High-Level Panel Discussion on “Women as Political Agents in Peace Processes”
10 January 2023 at 14:00 CET

The event is organised together with the Permanent Representations to the EU of Finland and Denmark, at the Scotland House (Rdpt Robert Schuman 6, 1040 Brussels).

The registration for the event is now closed.

For more information, please contact Isabella Björkman (isabella.bjorkman@cmi.fi).


14h00-14h15 Opening and Welcome

Ambassador Janne Taalas, CEO, CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation

14h15-14h45 Keynote

Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships (delivered by Ms Lora Borissova, Senior Expert, Cabinet of Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen)

14h45-16h00 Panel on Revisiting the Debate on Women’s Rights and Political Participation

Moderator: Ambassador Stella Ronner-Grubačić, EU Ambassador for Gender and Diversity


  • Elham Saudi, Co-Founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, former member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum
  • Ratibeh Al-Natseh, member of the political bureau of the Fida party, delegate to the Palestinian reconciliation talks mediated in Algeria
  • Lubna Elatta, Director General of the Sudan National Centre for Languages (SNCL- Selti), team member who prepared and supported the women’s delegation to the Juba talks on Sudan
  • Fawzia Koofi, leader of Movement for Change party, former member of the peace negotiation team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

16h00-16h15 Coffee break

16h15-17h30 Panel on Young Women in Protest Movements, and the Use of Digital Tools

Moderator: Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council


  • Asma Khalifa, Libyan women’s rights and peace activist and researcher
  • Randa Gindeel, Associate Professor at Ahfad University for Women (AUW)
  • Dalia Hamayel, Palestinian activist and community organizer working on social and economic justice
  • Nilofar Ayoubi, journalist, human rights and women rights activist, and an entrepreneur, organizer of peaceful protests across Afghanistan

17h30-17h45 Wrap-up and Closing Remarks

17h45-20h00 Reception


Concept note

High-Level Panel Discussion on “Women as Political Agents in Peace Processes”

Revisiting the Debate on Women’s Rights and Political Participation

Womens’ participation in peace processes should not be reduced to holding a seat at the table. In many countries undergoing conflict and crisis, women political and civil society leaders are demanding to transform the relationship between women and the state. Rather than understanding the women peace and security agenda as norms framing rights universally, changing national legislation and reforming the corresponding institutions have moved to the center of women’s political peace agency. These claims are becoming louder as inclusion has transformed the landscape of peacemaking. Beyond the peace accord, what has become crucial is a political settlement that rethinks the concepts of full citizenship, equality and justice. In many current peace and transitional processes thus, women’s groups are making visible the direct link between legal rights and their full enjoyment, and the peace process as a space for state reform. The implementation frameworks under which most peace and transitional processes operate such as constitution-drafting, electoral reforms, and redesigning the institutions of participation and protection are more than ever sustaining the future legitimacy of the peace process. A commitment from the post-accord leadership to this new social contract between women and the state should be supported by the EU and other regional and international actors.

Young Women in Protest Movements, and the Use of Digital Tools

Protest has increased globally during the past decade, and remarkably in authoritarian countries and conflict settings. More than before, women and especially young women are taking part in the protests as leaders and organisers, and calling to mobilize others. Capable of building on networks based on social media and using digital tools to activate and communicate, this new generation is transforming women’s organizing and traditional forms of participating in politics – peace processes included. The field of peacemaking is starting to acknowledge how peace processes are being impacted by these movements in the streets. From the angle of women’s participation this is crucial, because conflict and transition can greatly increase women’s representation in civil society groups and formal politics. It has been claimed however, that gains made in women’s empowerment rarely persist in post-conflict settings after ten to fifteen years. In the current context of complex peace processes, and prolonged transitions, young women are faced with the return of conflict, rising repression, and growing authoritarianism. If the gains during mobilization are being reversed, how is the generation in the forefront coping, resisting or adapting.


Speakers’ biographies

Opening and Keynote

Janne Taalas has served as CEO of CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation since May 2021. He has almost 25 years of experience in the Finnish Foreign service specializing in multilateral diplomacy and peace mediation related issues. He worked as the Special Envoy to 2020 Afghanistan Conference, the Ambassador of Cyber Diplomacy, the Finnish Ambassador to Rome, the Deputy Permanent representative (Ambassador) in the Finnish Mission to the United Nations in New York, and as the Director of Policy Planning. Janne has Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees from the University of Oxford (St Antony’s College) and a Master of Science in Economics and a Master of Social Sciences degree from the University of Jyväskylä, as well as a University Diploma in Development Studies from the University of Kent.

Lora Borissova (delivering remarks on behalf of Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships) is Senior Expert in the Cabinet of Commissioner Urpilainen. Lora is responsible for the comprehensive EU policy towards Africa and the follow up to the Africa strategy. She also covers Middle East, migration and is representing the Cabinet in the newly created structure of the geopolitical Commission EXCO, where all external relations and geopolitical aspects are being discussed.

Panel 1: Revisiting the Debate on Women’s Rights and Political Participation

Stella Ronner-Grubačić is the EEAS Ambassador for Gender and diversity. Stella started her diplomatic career at the Dutch Foreign Ministry which was followed by postings in Belgrade and Paris. In 2001, Stella was seconded to the OSCE Mission to the FRY (Former Republic of Yugoslavia). Following that, she became Spokesperson to former Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. In 2004, she took up the position of Spokesperson for the Dutch EU Presidency. Following various other positions in the Ministry in The Hague, including as Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals, Stella was appointed Ambassador to Croatia in 2010. After having served in The Hague as Director of Communication, she was accredited as Ambassador to Romania and the Republic of Moldova and accredited as Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Hellenic Republic in September 2019. She holds a Master’s degree (European Studies) from the University of Amsterdam and carried out her post-graduate studies of International Relations at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague.

Elham Saudi is Co-Founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL), a leading organisation working towards a Libya that embodies the values and principles of human rights and the rule of law, and a society committed to justice. It does so through advocacy and outreach, research and capacity building and is committed to pursuing accountability. Earlier this year, LFJL published the first comprehensive report on online violence against women in Libya. Elham is also a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, the UN-facilitated political process. In October 2021, Elham was a panellist at the Multi-stakeholder Forum event Nothing About Us Without Us: The Role of Women Peacebuilders and Human Rights Defenders in Peace and Security, where she briefed Security Council members and UN leadership on the situation of women human rights defenders in Libya.

Ratibeh Al-Natseh is a member of the political bureau of the Fida party. In October 2022, she was one of the four women to participate in the Palestinian reconciliation talks mediated by Algeria. She was a candidate in the 2021 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council before the elections were postponed. A Palestinian from Jerusalem, she holds a bachelor’s degree in social and economic development sciences and a high diploma in sustainable rural development and institution building.

Lubna Elatta is the Director General of the Sudan National Centre for Languages (SNCL- Selti). She holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and translation from Sudan University for Science and Technology and is an advocate for a women’s rights and is dedicated to increase women’s role as decision-makers and leaders in the society. Lubna is a member at the Peace Track in Mansam and works to enhance and strengthen women’s and particularly young women’s, participation in peace efforts through formal bodies.

Fawzia Koofi was a member of the peace negotiation team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. She decided to run for a seat in parliament from the Badakhshan province and she was elected Member of Parliament from that province in September 2005. Right after the first elected parliament after 33 years, Fawzia was elected as the first woman Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament in the history of Afghanistan. She tabled many progressive laws protecting women and children including law on violence against women, anti-harassment law on women and children, child act and contributed to laws that ensures protection of human rights for citizen. She is the author of Letters to my daughters and The favored daughter, which is her auto biography, and she was recently nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

Panel 2: Young Women in Protest Movements, and the Use of Digital Tools

Charlotte Slente was appointed Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council December 1st, 2019. She comes from a long career in the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has held multiple senior management posts central to Denmark’s development and humanitarian policy, hereunder State Secretary for Development Policy and Under-Secretary of State for Global Development – heading the Danish International Development Agency DANIDA. She has also served high-level diplomatic posts, including Under-Secretary of State for Global Politics and Security, as well as Under-Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. Charlotte has been Ambassador for Fragile States, as well as Economic Diplomacy and held several senior posts at Denmark’s bilateral Embassies.

Asma Khalifa is a Libyan activist and researcher who has worked on human rights, women’s rights and youth empowerment since 2011. From 2014, she focused on peacebuilding in Libya. Her work in Libya includes improving women’s participation in local government and addressing gender-based violence. In 2015, she co-founded the Tamazight Women Movement, a “think/do tank” that aims to research and advocate on women’s rights issues in Libya and North Africa. Currently, she is doing her Ph.D at the German Institute for Global Area Studies, researching the impact of civil war on inter-gender relations.

Randa Gindeel is Associate Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at Ahfad University for Women (AUW). She currently serves as the Deputy of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Director of Programmes Assessment at AUW. Randa was an executive board member of the national organization of Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women studies (BBSAWS) in 2014-2018. As a researcher and consultant in the field of sustainable rural development, she specifically focusses on women empowerment, women rights, education, gender-based violence and entrepreneurship development.

Dalia Abdul Jawad Hamayel is a Palestinian activist and community organizer; she has been working around social and economic justice in Palestine. She holds a degree in Sociology from Birzeit University.

Nilofar Ayoubi is a journalist, human rights and women rights activist, and an entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Asia Times AF and Editor to AkhbarAlan and has been actively advocating for basic human rights and women rights, organising peaceful protests and advocacy movements across Afghanistan.

Closing Remarks

Elisa Tarnaala is Senior Adviser at CMI Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation. She is vice chairperson of the Finnish 1325 Network and adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki. Elisa is currently working on North and West Africa, Colombia and Afghanistan, with an emphasis on peace, conflict and transitional processes. Focusing on process design and support of mediation and dialogue projects as well as academic research, she has engaged in participative projects with peace activists, memory collectives in conflict-affected communities, victims’ organizations, teachers, youth groups, and former armed group members. She has been grant-researcher of academic foundations, senior analyst in a think-tank, and consulted for international organizations (UN, EU, OAS, AU) on themes of democracy, conflicts, human rights, women’s participation and gender. In addition to teaching at graduate and undergraduate levels, she has conducted international training in conflict resolution and mediation.

Jibecke Joensson is Head of the CMI’s Brussels Office, focussing on maintaining relations and building strategic partnerships with the EU, EU Member States and Brussels stakeholders. She was previously seconded by Sweden to the European External Actions Service (EEAS) working on the EU-UN, and EU-UN-AU partnerships on peace and security. Some other prior roles include Head of Policy and Best Practices, Challenges Forum for Peace Operations, Folke Bernadotte Academy; Political Adviser of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic; Programme Manager and Research Assistant at the United Nations University in New York; and Project Manager MENA, Adam Smith International in London. Jibecke holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in Florence focusing on global governance and UN peace operations. Areas of expertise are peacebuilding, UN peacekeeping, EU crisis management, multilateralism, global governance and partnerships.