Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Event Highlight: Discussion on “Women for Peace – Between Adaptation and Opposition” with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

More than 150 guests attended a panel discussion with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman at the Collegium Maius last Thursday, May 3. The event, titled “Women for Peace – Between Adaptation and Opposition”, was part of the international conference “Peace and Conflict Studies: Perspectives from the Global South“, organized by Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, Juniorprofessor for International Conflict Management at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt.

Prof. Dr. Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff, Minister for Culture, Federal and European Affairs and Head of the State Chancellery, and Prof. Dr. Guido Mehlkop welcomed both the guests and the panelists to the event and underscored the importance of an intense and free exchange of ideas in Thuringia.

Keynote speaker Tawakkol Karman, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her non-violent struggle for women’s rights and for peace and democracy in Yemen during the “Arab Spring”, shared with the audience her motivation to fight for the empowerment of women. Following the speech, Tawakkol Karman was joined on stage by Mirjam Kruppa (Special Representative of the Thuringian Government for Integration, Migration and Refugees) and Bente Scheller (Head of the Regional Office Middle East of the Heinrich Boell Foundation) for a panel discussion, moderated by Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter. The three panelists discussed the current role of women in politics, both on a global and local level.

Bente Scheller shared her impression with a positive development in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, where she sees a “rapid development” for opening the public space for women. Tawakkol Karman made clear that women must be assertive when it comes to their rights: “Don’t ask for your rights, take them!” The fight for women’s rights happening now in the Middle East and worldwide is a “continuous struggle”.

Speaking of her local experiences working with female refugees and immigrants in Thuringia, Mirjam Kruppa emphasized that “we have many more similarities than we do have differences”. However, she demands more opportunities for women on a local level. Small steps are key to integration and social participation.

The event was well-received, both by guests and the press. The MDR Thüringen Journal reported on the event and posted a video which can be seen here. Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, initiator of the event, was very pleased with the evening: “It was very impressive to be part of such an intense discussion here in Erfurt. We are happy to have been able to host such an exciting event.”

The event was financed and supported by the German Foundation for Peace Research, the Thuringian State Chancellery and the University of Erfurt. Photos of the evening can be found here.