Irem Demirci: What does the 8th of March mean to you?
Miriam Mona Mukalazi: The 8th of March is a day to celebrate feminist solidarity around the world. Unfortunately, we can see that this solidarity has its limits. I've personally decided for now to only attend BIPoC feminist events organised by and for the community. Last year, I attended a Black feminist event in Brussels where people in all their diversity came together. We felt safe expressing our ideas of what a feminist utopia could actually look like. Unfortunately, in spaces where solidarity and empathy are missing, that’s not possible at the moment.
“The 8th of March is a day to celebrate feminist solidarity around the world. Unfortunately, we can see that this solidarity has its limits.”
Irem Demirci: How have you seen your work impacting Germany's feminist foreign policy and politics within Germany?
Miriam Mona Mukalazi: I think before I started working in academia, I had a clearer picture of my impact. When I delivered the statement on the UN Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security” (WPS) to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, there was an immediate reaction from policymakers about what would (not) be done. As an activist-scholar now, it isn't always that clear what kind of impact I have on who or on what. Last year, a few statements of mine were aired on the German radio channels Deutschlandfunk Nova and WDR5. Even months later, I received feedback on how policy advisors used it to brief their supervisors. That impact is a little more difficult to see, at first
Irem Demirci: What are the challenges of your feminist peace work, e.g. resistances?
Miriam Mona Mukalazi: In 2019, I took part in Palestine-Israel Peace Talks under the umbrella of UN Resolution 1325. We had very honest conversations about the personal risks feminist activists are taking to push for such a format. If you already belong to a marginalised group, the risks are even higher of being threatened or being labelled a “traitor” to your own people. So I think the lacking protection of human rights defenders is one of the reasons feminist peace work is quite challenging. Feminist activists need protection not only during these peace talks but also for a longer period of time when they are actually doing the work on the ground.
Irem Demirci: How do you think this is connected to a global challenge or issue? Do you apply the Women, Peace and Security Agenda to your work in Germany, and what role does it play?
Miriam Mona Mukalazi: The WPS agenda is the focus of my PhD research. With a post-colonial lens, I want to find out how the AU and EU justify their way of doing WPS and what this has to do with colonial continuities. As a researcher, I find it interesting to study which actors are put in the position to legitimise their feminist understanding. But also, which actors don't even have to legitimise their feminism because it's marked as the norm, as universal. To meet global challenges, it is very important to acknowledge where the colonial continuities are in this process of justifying feminist approaches. It's necessary to spell out how all actors involved are responsible for these colonial continuities, so the WPS agenda can actually evolve further.
“To meet global challenges, it is very important to acknowledge where the colonial continuities are in this process of justifying feminist approaches.”
Irem Demirci: What is your feminist vision for the future of Germany? What helps you in your daily feminist work?
Miriam Mona Mukalazi: The work of post-colonial scholars and activists is often perceived solely as a critique. One of the reasons is that most people are not willing to acknowledge that decolonial approaches are legitimate and actually work. I think it frightens them because it would definitely shake up their assumptions about how the world has not always been centred around a European way of doing politics. My vision would be therefore to see a Feminist Foreign Policy evolving towards approaches expressed by German scholars and practitioners such as Fatim Selina Diaby or Dilek Gürsel.
“My vision would be therefore to see a Feminist Foreign Policy evolving towards approaches expressed by German scholars and practitioners such as Fatim Selina Diaby or Dilek Gürsel.”
Miriam Mona Mukalazi is doing her PhD on Feminist Security Policies at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is a researcher at Philipps-University Marburg. For her PhD research, she worked at the Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa. Miriam was selected for the Zia - Visible Women in Science Network by “Die Zeit Magazine”, the Leadership Fellowship by the Bertelsmann Foundation as well as the Charlemagne Prize Academy for EU/European Studies. Previously, Mukalazi worked for UN Women Germany and the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy as well as conducted research for the World Bank and the EU Commission. In 2020, Miriam was invited as an expert to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag to deliver a statement on Germany’s Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Irem Demirci is a research assistant in PRIF's research department International Security. Her research interests include feminist approaches to peace and conflict studies, power analysis, and social inequality studies.
Miriam Mona Mukalazi
Researcher and Activist
Research Assistant at PRIF