Welcome to Episode 70 of Good Will Hunters from the Development Policy Centre.
Today’s guest is Radhika Coomaraswamy. Radhika is a Sri Lankan lawyer, diplomat and human rights advocate. She has held a range of appointments within the United Nations, including as Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict from 2006 to 2012, as lead author on a global study into Women, Peace and Security in 2014, and most recently as a Member in the United Nations Fact Finding Mission to Myanmar, following atrocities committed against the Rohinyga.
Radhika was a keynote speaker at the recent Australasian Aid Conference hosted by the Development Policy Centre and The Asia Foundation on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, which we discuss in this episode.
It was an incredibly powerful speech. You can listen to it here.
Radhika and I talk about her experience growing up in Sri Lanka, including her reflections on having Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi as a family friend. We then talk about violence against women as a toxic expression of power, and how the continued use of gender based violence as part of conflict and war, has shaped the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. It’s a critical agenda, but Radhika argues that it is also one that needs reform. In her words, it needs to “get real”.
Radhika has visited every war zone in recent history, and she reflects on her recent experiences in Myanmar, and her conversations with the Rohinyga. She also talks about the fears of the Buddhist population in Myanmar and attempts to decipher the social and cultural factors that enable a genocide. Ultimately, this episode gets to the heart of fear, oppression and intolerance and how it impacts on the safety and security of all people but especially women.
The GWH Team