Strategic Foresight Group and MEF University, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) co-hosted a conference on Women, Water and Peace in the Middle East. It took place on 18-19 March 2016 in Istanbul and brought together 50 decision makers from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The participants included Members of Parliament, former ministers, government officials, civil society activists and scholars.
Dr Mustafa Kibaroglu, Chairman of International Relations Department of MEF University opened the conference. Dr Yasar Yakis, former Foreign Minister of Turkey welcomed the delegates. Dr Aysegul Kibaroglu chaired the Opening Plenary addressed by Mrs Bohar Isa, MP from Iraq, Princess Hayat Arsalan from Lebanon, Engr. Maysoon Zoubi, former Secretary General of Water Ministry of Jordan and Ms Ulrika Holmstrom of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
The contributors of the report- Women, Water and Peace- discussed their findings from visits to refugee camps and other situations where women are vulnerable. The discussion also included case studies where some women oriented initiatives have been catalysts in finding solutions to the problems of hydro-insecure families.
Subsequent panels discussed roles of policy makers, media, and legislators. There was a broad consensus that women should be empowered and trusted with decision making roles at different levels since they are the main users of water. In particular, if women are empowered with decision making roles to head city councils or other local bodies, they are found to manage water in the most efficient and responsible manner.
The conference also had a session on experience exchange with a presentation on Nile Basin by John Rao Nyaoro, Executive Director of the Nile Basin Initiative. He explained that successful trans-boundary cooperation depends on the existence of three critical factors:
1. Institutional infrastructure for cooperation
2. Stakeholder dialogues at multiple levels
3. Personal commitment of the Heads of States and governments.
He explained that these three factors had enabled the Nile Basin Initiative to evolve from technical cooperation to strategic and political cooperation. Their latest achievement is an agreement between Heads of States between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in the planning of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on a cooperative basis. He said that there is still a long way to go for the Nile Basin Initiative to reach the level of cooperation achieved by some other shared river basins in Africa. He also offered a menu of suggestions for the Middle East.
Please read the full report with Key Messages in English here.
Please read a short report by Hydropolitics Academy Association in Turkish here.
To read a short report in the Daily Sabah see here.