METO statement marking International Women’s Day, 2021

This International Women’s Day, the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO) celebrates the women central to global peacebuilding and disarmament. 

METO is proud to be led by a woman and, as a team, is 50% composed of women of colour who embody a diverse range of individuals contributing to the effort to research into, promote and establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. 

Women are not mere passive victims; impacted and affected by life’s fast changes and the deep effects of war and conflict. Women are survivors, peacemakers, soldiers and activists. Teachers, guides and storytellers.

We know that there is a wide reaching problem with accessibility and thus there is a widespread lack of women in all fields of human activity, across the world, but especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). All areas of diplomacy, decision making and activism suffer by this absence. A lack of women is not simply a loss for womankind, but for everyone. It affects our region, but also the entire globe. It obscures our view into lived experiences and the constructive opportunities for change. Our work in building inclusive spaces, futures and societies is weakened if we fail to recognise the deep importance of embedding diversity in our field. 

METO emphasises the importance of gender equity and feminist practice in international security and achieving meaningful avenues for peace. We encourage the use of a moment like today, to recognise not only the breadth of women’s experiences within international political spaces and conflict zones, but also their direct role and impact in shaping our futures. Equal participation within the field is crucial to both widening and better understanding lived experiences, enabling stronger, more inclusive narratives, and to further the work achieved within disarmament. It is an opportunity to reshape our research practices, reassess our theoretical languages and traditional perspectives for the better. For the MENA region, this is an incredibly important reflection.

With great optimism, we are moved by the huge strides taken even in the most recent years, seeing organisations and even states led by powerful women who have shifted the waves of tradition in exchange for inclusive action. METO calls for this commitment to diversity to continue to grow. Today inspires us not only to include women, but people of colour, LGBTQ+, youth and everyone in every level of our work and efforts in order to build peace. Diversity, in all its forms, cultivates the most hopeful, inspiring and constructive possible future for us all.

We anticipate the many milestones ahead, and celebrate the incredible women breaking norms, paving spaces and leading the way to building a constructive, lasting, global peace free of weapons of mass destruction.

Happy International Women’s Day, from all of us at METO to you!