Selected Project for the first Paris Peace Forum
11 to 13 Novmeber 2018, Paris
The Paris Peace Forum is an annual event that is intended to promote governance solutions in five key areas: peace and security, the environment, new technologies, development and inclusive economy. It was created at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron to provide a platform for government officials, international organisations and representatives of civil society from around the world. Its open, bottom up format aims to enable these actors to launch collaborative initiatives and track two exercises, as well as mediation efforts and bilateral dialogues.
Being one of 120 selected projects in the Space of Soulutions, we had the opportunity to meet various project leaders and organisations over the three day period. Apart from one on one conversations, we held a pitch on the second day as well as a longer, more in-depth “meet up” on the last day of the event. Our one hour long session used the issue of “Women-friendly Cities” to apply a creative tension format. Asking the participants from various professional backgrounds, countries and different genders a series of ten difficult questions, we encouraged them to take a stand on the issue as well as share their personal experiences. The questions we asked included the following: “Is your city friendly to women and girls?”, “Do you feel safe using public transport late at night in your city?” and “Is the mobile phone a tool for security?”.
All the women present confirmed that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in public spaces. The men who participated listened respectfully and took in the varying view points as well as sharing their own stories. This storytelling helped to ascertain the fact that sexual violence is a common issue. At the end, there was agreement that there is a need to create spaces for such discussions and dialogues in order to create greater understanding.
This is true not only of the session’s topic, but also of the Paris Peace Forum itself, which plays an important role in promoting peace and intercultural understanding on a variety of issues by creating such a space. Both of us felt strongly encouraged by the openness displayed by the participants, each trying to develop solutions to intractable problems: “Finding common ground at a people to people level has never been more important than at the present when nationalism is on the rise in various countries and multilateral institutions appear to be at risk.”
Elsa Marie D’Silva is the founder of Red Dot Foundation Global (Safecity), a platform that crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. Since Safecity started in December 2012, it has become the largest crowd map on the issue in India, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and Nepal.
She is an advisor to Women 7 (W7) under the German Presidency and part of the working group on Ending Gender based Violence. The W7 is a group of civil society organizations who come together to promote proposals on gender equality and women’s rights to governments within the Group of 7 (G7). At the same time, Elsa is a D&AD Awards Jury member for Impact (2021, 2022) and Future Impact (2021) and an Impact Council member.
Elsa Marie is an alumna of the US State Department’s Fortune Program, Stanford CDDRL as well as the Swedish Institute Management Program. She is a fellow with Gratitude Network, International Women's Forum, Yale World, Rotary Peace, Aspen New Voices , SE Forum, Vital Voices, Fast FWD Philadelphia, Chevening Gurukul at Oxford and a Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellow at NED. Moreover, Elsa is a BMW Responsible Leader, Bosch fellow and is listed as one of BBC Hindi’s 100 Women. She has won the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the SheThePeople’s Digital Woman Award in Social Impact and the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award.
Prior to Safecity, she spent 20 years in the aviation industry, where she worked with Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. In her last role in aviation, she was Vice President Network Planning.
Eirliani is a student in the doctoral program in public health at Harvard University where she is a Prajna Leadership and Julio Frenk DrPH Fellow. She is a co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, a Chatham House Member
a Red Dot Foundation-Safecity Board Member and a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.
In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.
She is an award-winning author. She was lead editor of "The Demographic Dividend and the Power of Youth. Voices from the Global Diplomacy Lab", a peer-reviewed compendium of essays on the demographic dividend (Anthem Press 2021). Eirliani also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Past President and Global Health Lead of the Royal Society of Medicine (Elsevier 2018). The book won first prize under the Public Health category in the 2019 British Medical Association book awards. She is co-author of "Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse" (Marshall Cavendish 2017). Now in its third print run, the book won joint 2nd Prize at the inaugural Golden Doors Award in September 2020. She edited Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi's book "Will for Children" (Prabhat Prakashan 2016).
Eirliani worked in Singapore’s Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017 she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
A graduate of the London School of Economics and Warwick University, Eirliani was a British Council Pathfinder scholar. She speaks English, Malay and German fluently, and has rudimentary understanding of Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin and Russian.
Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition and about human trafficking and learn more about her work, activism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.