Darfur Women Action Group hosts Women and Genocide in the 21st Century Symposium

Survivors hope to influence policy makers by telling personal stories, press for action

Darfur Women Action Group, along with co-sponsors Genocide Watch and Darfur Interfaith Network, and in cooperation with The Center for the Study of Gender and Conflict at the George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), S-CAR’s Genocide Prevention Program, and the George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA) is hosting its 4th annual National Symposium on Women & Genocide in the 21st Century: The Case of Darfur on October 17 -18 at George Mason University’s Founders Hall.

The symposium is meant to bring attention to the longest genocide in history and its impact on women, reflecting both the suffering and resilience of women, women’s roles in combating genocide, justice and accountability for violence committed against women, women’s inclusion at all levels of decision-making, and strategies for women’s empowerment.

“The goal of our symposium is to empower activists and affected communities, set strategies for meaningful inclusion and justice for victims, and influence effective policy reforms that will bring a sustainable end to genocide in the 21st century,” said Niemat Ahmadi, founder and president of Darfur Women Action Group. “In the face of genocide, when governments fail to act, we must empower citizens to speak up, to hold decision- makers accountable and compel them to act.”

“In all of human history not even one genocide has been primarily planned and perpetrated by women. There have been many powerful queens, but only one – a psychopath in Madagascar in colonial times- ever led a genocidal state. Women’s empowerment is our best hope for ending genocide,” said Greg Stanton, president of Genocide Watch.

Human rights defenders, survivors and female leaders from Sudan, Nigeria, Kurdistan and Burma will be testifying about their personal accounts and the plight of their communities. Additional speakers and experts include Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Ambassador Marja Lehto, chairwoman of Justice Rapid Response, Carl Wilkens the only American humanitarian aid worker to stay in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide, Shamila Batohi, senior legal advisor to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, and many more powerful voices on human rights and justice. Prominent Italian singer Antonio Esposito and prominent New York- based artist and musician Mark Kostabi will perform an evening concert in support of women’s empowerment.

Register for the symposium here.