The GNWP and DDC teams with civil society and local authorities in Kherson, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Knarik Mktrchyan)
June 21, 2018 by Anne Lescure*
Kiev, Ukraine – “The big difference between women and men in Ukraine is that men plan while women implement”, says Olga Bothy from the organization of Mothers of Soldiers in the Kherson Oblast, Ukraine. Dana Mekhedova from the Union of Women of Ukraine in the Lvivblast –550 miles away from Kherson– notes the same reality: “In Ukraine, men think globally and women act locally.” Olga and Dana do not know each other, but they share the same passion and similar experiences in promoting peace, preventing conflict and advocating for the relevance of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 at the local level in Ukraine.
Along with other civil society actors and local authorities, Olga and Dana participated in the Localization of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in Lviv and Kherson oblasts (local regions in Ukraine), organized by GNWP in partnership with the Democracy Development Centre (DDC) and with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The workshops provided a space for local authorities and women like Olga and Dana to share their perspectives, and identify concrete actions to implement Ukraine’s National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325 at the local level.
The GNWP team was in Ukraine to facilitate workshops on Ukraine’s NAP on UNSCR 1325 and its Localization in Lviv and Kherson oblasts. In partnership with DDC, it convened local authorities, community-based women’s rights organizations, youth organizations, disability rights groups and other minority organizations to analyze Ukraine’s NAP and support the development of local action plans to ensure effective implementation.
During each of the two-day Localization workshops in Lviv and Kherson, the participants discussed the impact of conflict on women and women’s current roles in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Participants highlighted domestic violence and limited access to social services as the most significant impact of conflict on women. In Lviv, women underlined the lack of access to psychological care for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how it leads to violence. The influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in both oblasts has also contributed to deterioration of security. The participants emphasized that while women are the first victims of conflict they also are the primary actors of peace.
In addition to learning about the important issues that UNSCR 1325 addresses and how the resolution should be implemented in local communities, the participants also had the opportunity to listen to experiences of GNWP partners from Armenia and Georgia, represented by Knarik Mrktchyan (Women’s Resource Center, Armenia) and Margalita Shakarashvili (Inter-Agency Commission on Gender Equality, Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, Georgia). They shared concrete examples of civil society-government coordination, implementation strategies and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the two countries.
The participants used the knowledge they acquired to identify key priorities for the Localization of NAP 1325 in their communities: increased access to social services; prevention of violence (both within the family and in broader community); increased women’s participation in decision-making; and facilitation of intersectoral cooperation. They drafted Local Action Plans (LAPs) at oblast and the lower rayon level that will address the identified priorities. They also formed Local Steering Committees responsible for coordinating the finalization and implementation of the LAPs. GNWP and DDC will continue working closely with the Local Steering Committees to ensure the LAPs are implemented.
Dana and Olga’s participation at the Localization workshops and their words validated once again the central role women play in peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and sustaining peace. This was further reinforced by Victor Bulka from the City Center of Services for Children, Family and Youth in Kherson who said “effective implementation can only take place if representatives from minority groups, including women and men with disabilities, are included at all levels of decision-making, from financing Ukraine’s NAP on UNSCR 1325 to localizing it in rayons and oblasts.”
*The author is a Research and Advocacy Intern at GNWP. She joined the GNWP team in facilitating the Localization of UNSCR 1325 workshops in Ukraine.