Month: June 2018

Month: June 2018

Girl Ambassadors for Peace: Leaders of Today, Change-Makers of Tomorrow

Girl Ambassadors for Peace:

Leaders of Today, Change-Makers of Tomorrow

June 27, 2018 by Anne Lescure

“Often in academia there is a lot of critique about empowerment models because of the fact that empowerment is seen as having to go with empowering someone to be able to have a voice. GNWP does not believe that, and that’s not what we do with the Girl Ambassadors for Peace. Instead, we believe the Girls all have voices and something to say, we just have to make the space for them to say it.” Katrina Leclerc, GNWP’s Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program Coordinator

Earlier in June, the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2419 (2018) reaffirmed the belief that youth are not only the leaders of today but the crucial change-makers of tomorrow, especially in regard to the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements. Building on Resolution 2250 (2015), youth, peace and security makes it clear that peace will only be achieved if youth are included in decision-making, in peace processes and take ownership of these international agreements. More specifically, the resolution—and the supporting Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security which was developed by UNFPA, PBSO and the Office of the Envoy on Youth—emphasized the fact that young women cannot continue to be portrayed as victims of conflict but must be recognized as crucial contributors to peacebuilding.  Young women across the world are working together for peace, their rights to participation must be respected and their voices ought to be heard.

Programs such as the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) are key mechanisms to empower young women to become leaders and peacebuilders in their local communities. The Girl Ambassadors for Peace program, which is implemented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh, does not resemble any other program on youth participation in peace processes. Katrina Leclerc, GNWP’s Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program Coordinator explains that the program’s uniqueness is twofold: 1) its demography, and 2) its empowerment model.

Indeed, as explained by Katrina “there are little amounts of projects that actually focus on young women and this age group.” Moreover, “the other big difference which attests to the success of the program is the concept of the ‘trainees’ where the Girl Ambassadors become ‘trainers’,” adds Katrina. The Girl Ambassadors for Peace program is implemented in local communities by the Girls themselves who become the filters for the information they have been given and act as the agents and ambassadors of peace in their own communities.

Prativa Khanal, GNWP’s Cora Weiss Fellow adds that the Girl Ambassadors for Peace is “not just a network of young women and girls, but it also helps to create networks with different UN agencies, civil society stakeholders and the security sector,” fostering partnerships in the implementation of Resolution 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018),  1325 (2000) and supporting resolutions.

Echoing Prativa’s comments, Rhoda Mae Kasil, a member of the Girl+ Ambassadors for Peace in the Philippines, underlines that the program is “also an avenue for the youth to engage not just with the members of their organization, but the Philippines as a whole.” Rhoda, who was recently elected as Karawad of Barangaay Baan Riverside, in the region of Butuan in the Philippines shares her experience as a Girl+ Ambassador for Peace and explains how her role empowered her to run for the local elections. Encouraging fellow young women to become active in politics, Rhoda says: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, set an example for others.”

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Please find below the transcript for Rhoda’s interview

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Hello, I am Rhoda Mae Kasil from the Philippines,  a member of the Girl+ Ambassador for Peace, I am 24 years old. A teacher by profession, I am now connected in the people’s organization in my city as a volunteer which covers 8 communities and focusing on empowerment and providing different services. I am also representing the youth sector in different national and local mechanisms such as the national End the Poverty Commission, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee, the Police Regional office as a member of the Advisory Council. I am also a member of the Regional Youth Advisory Council and a convener of the Community Advocate for Empowerment of Survivors. I really love service people because I was once a beneficiary of such services offered in the community. I am a former sponsored child of the World Vision in the Philippines, so they paid for my tuition fees from elementary to college and enabled my empowerment me. I wish to replicate the empowerment to people, especially women and other vulnerable members of a community.

Thank you Rhoda, you are one busy woman! Can you give me a little background on your role as a Girl+ Ambassador for Peace and how long you have been involved with them.

It has been 4 months already as a Girl+ Ambassador for Peace because we were just created last February. It was a training attended by 28 young women from across the Philippines, representing academic institutions, civil society, local authorities, security sector and Indigenous people. The training paved the way for the creation of the Girl+ Ambassadors for Peace in the Philippines. This is a network composed of the women community leaders who attended the said training. This network is also an avenue for the youth to engage not  just with the members of their organization but the Philippines as a whole in upholding the said principles through the use of social media.

We would now like to discuss your recent election as a Karawad of Barangaay Baan Riverside, in the region of Butuan in the Philippines. What motivated you to run in the local elections?

Actually, it’s the trust of the people that motivates me to run. They are pushing me to run even though sometimes we have doubt in ourselves, I admit that. The people in our community keeps on cheering me and always believing in me. I also wish to use my connections to share my knowledge on empowering women. I learned from the seminars and training I attend. Most importantly, I really want to serve people, especially in the grassroots. Their smiles are really priceless. I was actually motivated knowing that out of 25 candidates in our community, only 3 women ran. I finally decided to run because there should be a woman in the council.

What were the main challenges that you faced while running for the elections?

Sometimes, I think negatively. Since I am the youngest out of the 25 candidates, 7 of which will be given the opportunity to run. But during our caucuses I always let people know my favorite bible verse which really fits me, saying “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

As a newly elected councillor,  what are your priorities and how do you wish to accomplish them? As the youngest local councillor, I am a women advocate, I want every woman in our community to be empowered, to know their rights and stand on their own. Although, the women in our community have already organized, I want to strengthen their effort so they can replicate it to other women, especially to the youngest ones, as they most need the guidance. I will provide capacity-building projects and have consultations every month to address their issue and concern. I want to accomplish something that is life changing for every woman, by touching their lives so they can see the difference.

Do you see possible allies in this fight? Men or women ? Specific organizations or other elected official that can help you put women’s rights at the forefront of your agenda?

I am working with the People’s Organization and I am involved in several local mechanisms and these connections can actually help in our locality to organize the grassroots—not only the women but the different sectors as well.

How can you most effectively transport the work you are doing at the local level to the national level and how can you most effectively localize the national policies on women’s rights. How does it work?

I think this is the most important question. It is in the local level that issues are rampants so as a local councillor I wish to urge the government in the city and national level to fund peacebuilding and have consultation on the ground in order to make sure they will provide resources for capacity-building project such as the workshops on peace education, gender equality and human rights to empower people from all sectors to participate, especially in the decision-making processes. It should be inclusive. By all means, I will localize all national policies to the grassroots. To motivate the national level, I will develop document that can be considered best practices in our community. I will lobby and bring our issues and concerns to the national level.

How will you be able to balance your role as a Girl+ Ambassador for Peace and a local councillor and how can the local council support the Girl+ Ambassador for Peace

Actually, the agenda of the Girl+ Ambassadors aligns with my agenda as a local councillor. It is so easy for me to balance my roles, because I will integrate the programs of the Girl+ Ambassadors for Peace in my work in the council. They are actually two opportunities feeding into each other.

What would be your advice for a young girl who would like to enter politics?

Politics is not easy. But if you really want to serve people, my advice for my fellow young women who want to fight for advocacy on women’s right, don’t let other people think you cannot do it . I will emphasize my favorite verse: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for others.” We should be an inspiration to all other even those once young, not just the young ones.

Nothing about us, without us! Local Ukrainian women raise their voices for the implementation of UNSCR 1325

The GNWP and DDC teams with civil society and local authorities in Kherson, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Knarik Mktrchyan)


Nothing about us, without us! Local Ukrainian women raise their voices for the implementation of UNSCR 1325

 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.

GNWP stands with refugees

On World Refugee Day we stand with refugees, we are proud to support our Girl Ambassadors for Peace from South Sudan who continue fighting for their rights while relocated in the Rhino Camp in Uganda. We ought to empower young women refugees to make their journey safer and their future brighter.
Pour la Journée des réfugiés nous sommes avec les réfugiés⁠, ⁠⁩nous sommes fières de soutenir nos Filles ambassadrices pour la paix du Soudan du Sud qui continuent à se battre pour leurs droits dans le camp de Rhino en Ouganda. Elles méritent un voyage sûr et un avenir brillant.
Last update: June 20, 2018

Young women demand economic opportunities

Young women demand economic opportunities

June 18, 2018 by Katrina Leclerc*

Speaking at the World Trade Organization’s Global Forum on Inclusive Trade for Least-Developed Countries in Geneva on June 13-14, Noëlla Muhamiriza and Ariane Moza, Girl Ambassadors for Peace from South Kivu, urged the international community to help young women to become economically independent.

The GA4P members emphasized: “To achieve strong economies in the least developed countries, we must build stronger communities; individuals who are being empowered locally to trade internationally. The GA4P program trains young women to become leaders and literacy teachers in their communities. This year, the GA4P program also provided training on entrepreneurship, job skills and life skills to young women.

Noëlla and Ariane addressed the following questions at the forum: Why is trade and economic empowerment important?

Their response: “There is no better way to give women and youth their voice than by creating pathways to economic independence. For so many women, poverty and lack of education are the main reasons why there is a perpetual cycle of violation of their basics rights.

In the least developed countries, where populations live under corrupted justice systems, being economically independent reduces their vulnerability and enables them to fight injustices more strongly, it guarantees the right to have a voice and advocacy.

Studies have found that, the more women are in decision-making positions, the better the country does, both in terms of country security and protection but also economic growth, especially in the least developed countries. This can only be achieved when women have a level of economic autonomy and stability. There is no power to women in least developed countries without economic empowerment, where the justice system is absent, money does ‘the talk.’”

How can we support youth in seeking employment?

Ariane and Noëlla highlighted the need for more opportunities for young people. Noëlla added, “this is one of the most empowering things to do and that starts with representation. Having been invited to panel like this is an incredible inspiration to so many young people in DRC and surrounding diaspora communities. After I spoke at another event –the OECD Global Forum- I many young people contacted me to express how much my experience has encouraged them to dream bigger and to reach out for opportunities.”

It’s not enough to imagine jobs for youth without involving them at all levels, mentoring them, teaching them. Among the attendees of this forum are representatives of great organizations, governments and leaders from different spheres of influence, therefore you can all have an impact in creating economic opportunities for young people, especially young women.

To ensure young women’s economic empowerment, Ariane and Noëlla recommended the following:

1. Skills-building: Invest in skills-building opportunities for young people, whether it be in school curricula or in informal settings, young women need skills in different areas.

2. Internships & job readiness: In order for young women to take their place in society, we need to provide meaningful job opportunities and training. They need to undergo culturally-relevant training and experience for job readiness.

3. Economic opportunities, enabling and maintaining: The international community needs to provide sustainable economic opportunities for youth.

For more information or to watch the Forum’s sessions:

Noëlla and Ariane are among the 200+ participants of the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program of the GNWP. It consists of literacy and numeracy; leadership; peacebuilding through the use of media and theater; and economic empowerment. Currently, the program is operational in South-Kivu and North-Kivu, DRC, in South Sudan and Rhino Camp in West Nile, Uganda, Central Sulawesi and East Java, Indonesia, and starting soon in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, Bangladesh.

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to enable the participation of Girl Ambassadors for Peace members in international forums and policy spaces. GNWP strongly believes in young women’s potentials and capacity to advocate for concrete action for the implementation of the women and peace, and security agenda; and promotion of women’s rights and gender equality overall.

*Katrina Leclerc is GNWP’s Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program Coordinator, for more information about the program please contact: [email protected]