Who can forget the iconic lyrics from John Lennon's anthem "Give Peace A Chance"? Well, women can turn the lyrics into reality if given the chance to engage in peace negotiations around the world.


At a recent hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "Women Fighting for Peace: Lessons for Today's Conflicts," it was shown that although women's roles historically were limited between 1992 and 2011 in official peace negotiations around the world, when they were engaged, their participation in the overall process was positive. Between 1992 and 2011, women comprised just 2 percent of chief moderators and 9 percent of negotiators in official peace processes.

The hearing found that men and women often experience conflict differently, with men more likely to die from battle-related violence, and women more likely to suffer from war's indirect effects, including breakdowns in social order, human rights violations, economic deprivation and the spread of infectious diseases. Thus, while male participants in peace processes tend to focus on solving war's immediate challenges — mainly, who controls what — women tend to raise issues that address the underlying causes and long-term consequences of war, which can in turn promote more stable agreements, with more public support.

So many of the conflicts — be it war or human rights violations — deal directly with women as targeted victims because of their gender, age, religion or culture. In fact, research has shown that a country's widespread repression of women is an even greater predictor of state instability and violence than its style of governance, level of wealth or ethno-religious affiliation.

Women's involvement in peace processes can significantly impact levels of inclusivity and democratization in post-conflict societies, with implications not only for women's security but, ultimately, the stability of countries and regions as a whole. As a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, I can attest firsthand to the ability of women to deal with sensitive and pressing negotiations in a manner that is not only effective but is needed, appreciated and respected. Women have a vested interest in conflict resolution, since all resolutions will affect them and they represent half of the population. The positive results the committee found with regard to the metrics associated with women that were involved in peace agreements cannot be denied.

I applaud Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and all the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the series of hearings that have been held with regard to the positive roles women have played and can play in bringing lasting peace to troubled lands.

All women are saying is give us a chance.

Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen, the world's largest breast cancer charity. She was previously a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control to the U.N.'s World Health Organization; U.S. chief of protocol; and U.S. ambassador to Hungary.