New York/Brussels International Crisis Group Vice President Donald Steinberg has been appointed to the Advisory Group to the Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The new eleven-member body will counsel UNIFEM in its mission to provide financial and technical assistance to innovative approaches aimed at fostering women's empowerment and gender equality.

Established in 1976, UNIFEM's work touches the lives of women and girls in more than 100 countries. Under the leadership of Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM also helps make the voices of women heard at the United Nations -- to highlight critical issues and advocate for the implementation of existing commitments made to women.

The particular area of expertise and experience Mr Steinberg brings to the Advisory Group relates to the role of women in conflict situations, including promoting their engagement in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction and governance.  This involves questions related to demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants, ensuring accountability for crimes committed against women during conflict, participation of women in formal and informal peace talks, addressing the challenges of landmines, and involving women as planners, implementers and beneficiaries of assistance and recovery programs.

“Some policy-makers may consider these issues to be the ‘soft side’ of peacemaking, but I very strongly disagree”, says Mr Steinberg. “There is nothing soft about going after traffickers who turn women and girls into commodities. There is nothing soft about preventing armed thugs from abusing women in refugee camps, holding warlords and other human rights violators accountable for their actions against women, ensuring that demobilised soldiers refrain from domestic violence, or insisting that women have a seat at the table in peace negotiations and post-conflict governments”.

“These are among the hardest responsibilities in the foreign policy agenda, and I am looking forward to working with the dedicated women and men of UNIFEM in addressing these challenges”.

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