Month: September 2018

Month: September 2018

Young women leaders are agents of peace & beacons of hope: Testimonies of the Girl Ambassadors for Peace

Young women leaders are agents of peace & beacons of hope: Testimonies of the Girl Ambassadors for Peace

September 21, 2018 by Katrina Leclerc*

“I know how it feels to be a victim of war and that is not the reality that I desire for myself, for my family and for my community. For me, fighting for peace is a human responsibility and a personal commitment.” – Lynrose Jane D. Genon, Girl Ambassador for Peace (Philippines)

On International Peace Day, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and its Girl Ambassadors for Peace program stand united with young women across the world in calling for peace and enabling leaders of today. As Girl Ambassadors for Peace, Emilie Katond (Democratic Republic of Congo), Ilmiyah Maslahatul (Indonesia), and Lynrose Jane D. Genon (Philippines) share their stories of resilience and passion to inspire others to join their efforts.

The Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) was first established in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2014 and is now operational in five countries (DRC, South Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, and soon in Bangladesh). Girl Ambassadors for Peace are members of a global network of young women and girls who promote peace, women and girls’ rights by implementing the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250 and their supporting resolutions – through education, empowHERment, and community activism.

Together, GA4P members, are a united face in light of adversity and conflict. Through the four components of their work: leadership, literacy, peacebuilding, and economic empowerment, GA4P members have become crucial actors for peace and development in their communities and the world. They embody the ideal of positive peace and provide positive examples of young, female leadership, even in the face of violence and marginalization.

Another important aspect of the program is to provide opportunities and support young women’s voices. Emilie, Ilmiyah, and Lynrose are prime examples of strong, young women who use their voices to raise the narrative and inspire communities to fight towards a peaceful future.

We sat down with Emilie, Ilmiyah, and Lynrose and asked them three key questions in light of 2018’s International Peace Day. Here’s their message for this year’s Peace Day:

 

Emilie Katond (Democratic Republic of Congo)

 

1. Why is fighting for peace important?

It is important to fight for peace because a country cannot advance economically or continue to develop if there is war.

2. How do you stay hopeful despite violence around you?

I remain hopeful because of my confidence and faith that one day we will have lasting peace. With the courage that drives me, I see the potential in working together with other young leaders who are advocating for peace, and together we will create lasting peace.

3. What are the Girl Ambassadors doing to promote peace in DRC?

We are educating young people about UN Security Council Resolution 1325, resolutions related to women, peace, and security, as well as Resolution 2250 which speaks to youth involvement in peacebuilding; conflict management, women’s leadership; entrepreneurship; and education regardless of gender. Being a Girl Ambassador for Peace, I promise we will achieve peace despite the long period of time my country has been known for killing and rape.

 

Ilmiyah Maslahatul (Indonesia)

 

1. Why is fighting for peace important?

I am involved with GA4P because we are role models for young women and girls in promoting the women, peace, and security agenda. We challenge the beliefs of the government about peacebuilding and encourage young women to participate.

2. How do you stay hopeful despite violence around you?

I have the power to promote peace and female participation in peacebuilding and decision-making through my organization.

3. What are the Girl Ambassadors doing to promote peace in Indonesia?

We meet with national and local leaders to express our views on the various problems in our community and the country as a whole. My organization influences the way my community members think. Women who are less active will participate in making decisions, motivated by the desire to end radicalization and violent extremism. We are also improving our English language skills.  

 

Lynrose Jane D. Genon (Philippines)

 

1. Why is fighting for peace important?

Peace is important for it keeps you safe, and it frees you from living in constant fear. I have experienced the ugliness of violent conflict when I was 13 when our hometown was attacked by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) because of the failure of their peace agreement with our government. I was made to understand conflict and witness it firsthand at a very young age. It was traumatic, and I don’t want that to happen again.

Peace is important because it sustains life, and I fight for peace because I value and respect life. I have seen how wars killed lives, shattered homes and communities. I have seen how the Marawi Siege, for example, has displaced more than 350,000 individuals, destroyed millions of infrastructures, damaged social structures, and created divides in the communities. I have seen how hard it is to leave home and live in an evacuation center. I know how it feels to be a victim of war and that is not the reality that I desire for myself, for my family and for my community. For me, fighting for peace is a human responsibility and a personal commitment.

2. How do you stay hopeful despite violence around you?

Working with fellow young people makes me more hopeful that we can achieve peace in Mindanao. Working with individuals of the same wavelength and sharing the same passion, it keeps you going and it convinces you every day that it can be done. Having a network like Girl+ Ambassadors for Peace makes me hopeful despite the challenges around me because it reminds me that I am not alone. It is a reminder that you have a community who will serve as your support system and a safe space where you can express yourself.

3. What are the Girl Ambassadors doing to promote peace in the Philippines?

Girl+ Ambassadors for Peace is empowering young women to become peacebuilders in the Philippines. It provides a space and network for young women to participate in peace initiatives and be heard. It gives us a safe space where we can articulate our truths even if our voice falters. It gives us a community that serve as our support system and sounding board.

As part of the network, I also help create that safe space for other young peacebuilders in our community in Lanao. We implemented Project YACAP (Youth Amplifying, Co-Creating and Advocating Peace), a 5-month  leadership development program, funded by the US Embassy through a grants competition, that envisions creating a network of young peacebuilders in Mindanao. The program is deliberately named to sound like yakap, the Filipino word for embrace, a universal gesture that perfectly demonstrates what it is like to be at peace, with oneself, and with another.

It aims to provide the youth of Mindanao a space where they can amplify stories about peace, a platform through which they can co-create initiatives that will counter violent extremism, and promote peacebuilding, and a network through which they can sustain these initiatives to continue to advocate for peace.

The program specifically recognizes the need to involve young people who have been affected directly or indirectly by the ongoing siege in Marawi, especially in the narratives that emerge from the siege, and in conversations on how to move forward together. The program in its pilot implementation has trained 30 young leaders, involved more than 300 youths from 5 communities in Lanao.

 


*Katrina Leclerc is GNWP’s Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program Coordinator, for more information about the program please contact: katrina@gnwp.org

 

Strengthening synergies between CEDAW and Women, Peace and Security Resolutions

20 September, 2018

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Resolutions, together with other human rights treaties and International Humanitarian Law, provide a comprehensive framework for the protection and promotion of women’s rights, including in armed conflict. Yet, while the expansion of international law provisions protecting women’s rights in conflict is a positive development, it may also lead to the emergence of incompatible rules, or risk that one agenda or set of priorities would lead to “de-prioritizing” other women’s human rights obligations.[2] To avoid such pitfalls, it is necessary to examine the synergies between different international instruments, and ensure they mutually reinforce, rather than undermine, each other. This need for greater synergy was recognized in the General Recommendation 30 (GR 30) of CEDAW, on women in conflict-prevention, conflict and post-conflict, adopted by the CEDAW Committee in 2013, which instructed all 189 States parties to CEDAW to report on the implementation of the WPS resolutions.

GNWP is proud to present a policy brief that contributes to the discussions on synergies between CEDAW and the WPS resolutions, by responding to three key questions:

  • What is the importance of reporting on WPS through CEDAW reports? This question was explored through key informant interviews and literature review, which confirmed that CEDAW reporting not only provides a systematic platform for WPS reporting, which is lacking in the Security Council. Furthermore, reporting on the implementation of the WPS resolutions through CEDAW will also strengthen the links between peace and security, women’s rights and gender equality

 

  • How has the monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the UNSCR on WPS through CEDAW changed over the years? This question was answered through both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the texts of State Party reports to CEDAW; CEDAW Committee concluding observations, and civil society shadow reports. It revealed an increasing trend in both the quantity and depth of references to the WPS agenda, and the status of women in conflict more broadly. However, it also revealed that women are still viewed primarily as victims, and not as agents of peace, and that the link between women’s participation at all levels of decision-making and preventing conflict or sustaining peace is still tenuous in most State Party reports.

 

  • How can the synergy between CEDAW and WPS be strengthened? This question is addressed through concrete recommendations to Member States, civil society, CEDAW Committee and the Security Council, as well as the international development partners on joint implementation of CEDAW and the WPS resolutions.

This policy brief is part of GNWP’s ongoing advocacy for the joint implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and CEDAW. GNWP is grateful for the financial support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) of Switzerland, Directorate of International Law (DIL) Human Rights Section for the production of the policy brief.

The full policy brief is available at: https://gnwp.org/publications/strengthening-synergies-between-cedaw-and-women-peace-and-security-resolutions-policy-brief-by-the-global-network-of-women-peacebuilders/.

You can read more about GNWP’s work on strengthening synergies between CEDAW and WPS Resolutions here.

The policy brief was written by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos and Kelly Yzique Zea with substantive/content supervision of Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and research support from Shalini Medepalli and Naima Kane, research and advocacy interns at GNWP.

GNWP also wishes to thank Ms. Bandana Rana, Dr. Catherine O’Rourke, and Ms. Shanthi Dairiam for their review and substantive inputs to this policy brief.

Nepali Civil Society Prepares for the Shadow Report on Implementation of NAP and other policies on Women, Peace and Security

Nepali Civil Society Prepares for the Shadow Report on Implementation of NAP and other policies on Women, Peace and Security

30 August, 2018 by Prativa Khanal*

Ensuring accountability for and monitoring of the National Action Plans (NAP) on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women Peace and Security is a challenge in many countries, including in Nepal.  As Ms Bandana Rana, Nepal’s first elected Member of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) remarked, “CEDAW can be a powerful response to this challenge, because of its strong reporting procedures. CEDAW General Recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations, enabled government and civil society to use CEDAW as an accountability mechanism for the NAP on UNSCR 1325. It is important to remind the key stakeholders in Nepal about their obligation to implement CEDAW GR 30.”

Nepal adopted its first NAP in 2011 for the period of 2011 to 2016.  The second NAP is currently being drafted.  Nepal is also a State Party to CEDAW and is due to report in October 2018, during the 71st session of CEDAW in Geneva.

On August 28-29,2018 GNWP facilitated a workshop on ‘Strengthening Synergies between the CEDAW and the WPS Resolutions’ in Kathmandu, Nepal in partnership with the 1325 Action Group and Saathi.  The workshop brought together representatives from government, civil society, conflict victims, indigenous group, media, international development partners, UN Women and UNFPA to discuss the importance of jointly implementing CEDAW and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions.  The workshop included expert’s presentation on the latest global developments on WPS agenda; the Sustaining Peace agenda and its applicability to Nepal; CEDAW Structures and Procedures, including GR 30; and the use of CEDAW as an advocacy tool.  Using a “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats” (SWOT) analysis methodology, the participants assessed the achievements and challenges of Nepal’s post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding processes including the NAP implementation; and analyzed the priorities and gaps in the government and civil society reports to the CEDAW Committee.

Some of the strengths and opportunities identified are the new Constitution and the Federal government structure and decentralization; establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and other commissions such as on human rights, women, and Dalit; and formation of local bodies including Judicial Committees with the power to settle and/or mediate certain cases.

The participants also questioned the effectiveness of the above-mentioned mechanisms due to lack of necessary legislation as per the international law, government’s failure to provide adequate human and financial resources and failure to completely investigate even a single complaint even three years after their formation, which was identified as a key weakness.  In addition, the participants expressed concerns regarding the dissolution of the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Local Peace Committees, and Women and Children Development Office – all key structures for the implementation of Nepal’s NAP on UNSCR 1325; and the lack of ownership of the WPS agenda among certain government ministries and agencies.

The other weaknesses and threats to Nepal’s peacebuilding efforts identified by the participants are:

a) lack of proper data collection mechanisms;

b) lack of disaggregated data;

c) non-delivery of the interim relief package to some victims of torture and sexual and gender-based violence;

d) lack of intersectional approach to peace and security; and

e) failure to address the root causes of conflict are other examples of weaknesses and threats for the implementation of WPS issues in Nepal.

Following the analysis of the State Party report and civil society shadow report submitted to the CEDAW Committee, the participants commented that a number of challenges in the NAP implementation are not included in both the government and civil society reports to the CEDAW Committee. To address this gap, the participants committed to:

1) Write a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to expedite the process of adoption of the second phase of the NAP with clear implementation mechanisms particularly in light of the change to a federal structure of government and dissolution of the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Local Peace Committees, and Women and Children Development Office;

2) Disseminate results of the SWOT Analysis and the recommendations for more effective implementation of the NAP to relevant government agencies, civil society, UN and other international development partners; and

3) Submit a shadow report on Women, Peace and Security’ to the CEDAW Committee to address the gaps in the current reports.

The workshop successfully built greater awareness of the synergies between CEDAW and WPS, and commitment to ensuring joint implementation of these two important instruments in Nepal.  This was reinforced by Khaga Prasad Chapagain, Chairperson, Family Planning Association of Nepal, Kapilvastu District Chapter, who said: “I am confident that the issues of the local level will be integrated into the Shadow Report on Women, Peace and Security which will help draw attention to the plight of women affected by the conflict.”  Hema Pandey, Legal Officer of the National Women Commission stressed that “the mandates of CEDAW and the WPS resolutions complement to each other in scope and applicability.  Thus, synergy is a must to ensure effective reporting and monitoring of the implementation of the NAP.”

The workshop was part of a broader collaboration between GNWP and Switzerland on the joint implementation of CEDAW and the WPS resolutions, aimed at raising the awareness and encouraging States parties to report on the legal framework, policies and programs they have implemented to guarantee women’s rights in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations.

More details on the workshop may also be found in Nepali media, including the Himalayan Times newspaper: https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/workshop-held-to-prepare-report-on-womens-issues/.

 

*The author is a Senior Program Officer at GNWP.