Intercommunal women’s walks and discussions continue in Cyprus
Two intercommunal Women’s Walks have taken place in Cyprus so far this year. The first event was held on 12 January 2019; more than 100 men and women joined a walking tour of north Nicosia followed by a presentation by guest speakers Androulla Vassiliou and Didem Erel at the Centre for Visual Arts and Research on Women as the Vanguards of the Peace Process in Cyprus.
The second walk and discussion on 16 March moved beyond Nicosia to Skarinou. The guest speakers on this occasion, George Vassiliou, former President of the Republic of Cyprus, and Erhan Erçin, former member of the Turkish Cypriot negotiating team, spoke about the benefits and the disadvantages of a solution to the Cyprus problem, versus a non-solution. Participants were hosted by the Women’s Association of Rural Larnaka who arranged a tour of Skarinou, a handicrafts exhibition by local craftswomen and served local Cypriot delicacies.
Since 2013, a group of Cypriot women have been coming together, initially with the aim of enabling experienced women in a range of fields to mentor other women while providing a forum for increased interaction and collaboration. The activities over the years have taken the form of nature walks or guided city tours, often accompanied by sessions of open discussion led by guest speakers and attended by ever increasing numbers.
The group has recently formed a consensus on working together in order to increase women’s participation in the political field in general and at the negotiating table in particular by, inter alia, exhorting the leaders of both communities and of the respective political parties, to engage more women in the peace process and political life, reminding of them of their obligations emanating from UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions; increase activity and contacts between the different communities in cities and in the rural areas to explore areas of collaboration, by organizing events involving women from all strata of society and promoting friendships and cooperation; and, above all, create an impact on the foundations of society that encourages and supports a culture conducive to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem based on mutual respect and tolerance, aimed at ending the division and promoting reconciliation.