International Day of Peace

Remarks of Anne Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor, Peace and Security, UN Women at the Inaugural Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace, Central Park, New York, 22 September 2013

Lantern dedication

Date: Sunday, September 22, 2013

Your Holiness Shinso Ito, my fellow peacemakers, ladies and gentlemen. I thank you for this honour to participate in the inaugural Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace ceremony in Central Park.

Peace in the world must be grounded on peace in our homes. This is the central insight of women’s peace work. We cannot end armed conflict without also ending the violence against women and children at home. All violence is connected. The terrible violence against women in war is fuelled by the violence and inequality in gender relations. If we do not end this inequality, then wars will not end for women when the shooting stops.

Women around the world have brought peace when it seemed it was out of reach. From Afghanistan to Congo, from Ireland to Timor Leste, women have protested violence and extremism, and brought non-violent solutions. They have refused to be silent about the violence done to them. They have demanded justice. 

Peace requires that women are seen as leaders, not victims. Peace will come when women have equal access to jobs and to land. When there are as many women as men who are politicians and heads of corporations. When there are as many men as women caring for homes and children. Peace will come when we listen to everyone who has been affected by conflict – not just to the belligerents.   

I would like to dedicate this lantern to Sunila Abeysekera, the Sri Lankan peace leader who died two weeks ago. I would also like to dedicate this lantern to all those killed in in Syria, including the women and men, girls and boys, killed in the August 21 gas attack. Like people the world over, I call for a peaceful resolution of that and all other conflicts. May the light and hope and peace symbolized by these lanterns be found in all human relationships.