Keynote speech by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering on the occasion of the Women Wage Peace International Congress “Removing Barriers to Middle East Peace” in Tel Aviv

27.11.2018 - Speech

Your Excellency, Minister for Regional Cooperation Hanegbi,
Esteemed activists, supporters and friends of Women Wage Peace,
Ladies! And may I say, sisters!

“Peace is a woman and a mother.”

This is the title of a famous poem by Israeli poet Ada Aharoni that I am sure many of you know well. That’s right, isn´t it?

Prof. Aharoni numbers it among her favourite works. She expressed the hope that her poem might be “a drop of peace in the ocean”.

First: Let me congratulate you!

The Women Wage Peace movement has not only understood what this poem means, but is translating it into concrete action in every respect.

Women Wage Peace!

You have understood that women are capable of waging peace instead of war.

And when it comes to all aspects of peace, they have to be leaders –

in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

As politicians, we must make it possible for women to participate in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction on an equal footing. This is what UN Security Council Resolution 1325 stands for,

and this is what we are committed to at the Federal Foreign Office in Germany.

“How do you know peace is a woman?” Prof. Aharoni asks in the opening line of her poem. And, indeed:

This is a difficult question to answer. We could equally turn the question on its head and ask “how do you know war is a man?” – No!

It’s not that simple, of course; things are never that black and white.

The many crises and conflicts that we are witnessing around the world today are affecting men and women, children and the elderly, people of all colours and creeds.

It is precisely because conflicts are so complex that any form of conflict resolution will have to be just as diverse.

Women must be an essential part of any solution.

This is a key element for lasting and sustainable peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I’m therefore delighted to be taking part in this conference today.

Women Wage Peace has advocated the equal participation of women in peace processes for the past four years – since the 2014 Gaza war that left many scars on both the Israeli and the Palestinian side.

You have returned the concept of peace to the heart of your society.

And you did just that earlier this month when Israel was, for a short time, on the brink of war once again.

You have shown not only Israel, but also the region and the world that there is a peaceful alternative.

Your activities bring together women from all sides and from all walks of life.

Women who are dedicated to finding a peaceful solution in the region – regardless of their religion, cultural background or political persuasion. Your message is straightforward.

You are calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a political agreement.

You are showing us not only that peace is possible, but also that this is what a growing number of people want.

This is a strong message that we are hearing loud and clear.

Germany will be joining the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member very soon, on January 1st 2019.

We will be on the Security Council for two years, during which time we will also stand up for the interests and security of our Israeli friends.

One of the areas that we will focus on is women, peace and security.

We therefore want to work actively to promote the role of women in conflict prevention and in peace negotiations. We will, for example, work to ensure that both women from civil society and human rights defenders are heard in the Security Council.

We will also support meetings with civil society representatives as an integral part of Security Council Visiting Missions abroad.

We need to work together at all levels and with all stakeholders – in the Security Council, regionally and nationally at state level, with international and regional organisations and with civil society – in order to give women an equal voice.

Also our chancellor Angela Merkel is fully committed to this aim.

“How do you know peace is a woman?” Maybe we don’t know yet what peace is.

In Israel, what a peaceful solution will look like exactly is far from a simple question.

But what we do know is that women have to be a part of that solution.

We do know that there is room for negotiation, and that we have to keep talking.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Involving women in processes means changing processes!

This is what Women Wage Peace stands for; this is what you do every day and what we are here to do today.


When I look around this room, I know the answer to the question.

Thank you to Women Wage Peace for your work. Thank you all for being here, and may we all strive to be drops of peace, becoming a wide ocean.


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