Month: October 2018

Month: October 2018

We are all a piece of peace: Young women leaders call for greater inclusivity for sustainable peace

We are all a piece of peace: Young women leaders call for greater inclusivity for sustainable peace

October 30, 2018 by Alexandria Kazmerik*

Edited by Katrina Leclerc and Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

On October 26, 2018, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) launched the new name of the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program: Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL). The launch was part of a three-part event entitled “Young Women Speak Out for Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace” that was held on the sidelines of the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security.

The event included a presentation of a background paper on Young Women, Peace and Security; panel discussion among young women leaders on the impact of their peacebuilding work and the challenges they face through intergenerational dialogue between young women leaders and policymakers.

Sophie Giscard D’Estaing from UN Women who presented the highlights of the Young Women Peace and Security Background Paper (click here for paper) highlighted the risks of definitions and categorization in policy, as it often causes young women to face double discrimination based on their age and sex. She used the example of a fourteen-year-old Syrian refugee who is married with a daughter, asking, “Is she a mother, or is she a child? It depends who you ask.” The paper demonstrated that recognizing the intersectionality of young women in policy is key to their success as leaders.

Two members of the Young Women for Peace and Leadership, Emilie Katondolo from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lynrose Jane Dumandan Genon from the Philippines, along with GNWP’s Program Coordinator, Katrina Leclerc, and new Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow, Susan William, were the featured young women panellists.

Emilie Katondolo, a member of YWPL from Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke about using economic empowerment as a means to prevent sexual and gender-based violence. When women are economically empowered, their vulnerability is reduced because they are regarded with more respect by their own families and communities. Emilie highlighted successes in the micro-businesses undertaken by the YWPL in DRC including the production of accessories and handbags, which she leads.  Members of YWPL who are participating in the economic empowerment project supported by GNWP have been able to support and meet their own financial needs – no longer relying on others, according to Emilie. “So long as young women in DRC are able to engage in productive endeavours such as this, they will be able to contribute to sustainable peace,” she added.

“We are a piece of peace,” Lynrose Jane Dumandan Genon, a YWPL member from Iligan City, Philippines powerfully stated. We are all interconnected and have a role to play to achieve sustainable peace, she stressed. She highlighted the need for stronger collaboration and intergenerational dialogue between the “young ones and the young once” which can lead to the sustainability of the peace movement. She appealed for support to enable young people to lead and implement their own projects; as well as continued mentorship and support for the meaningful inclusion of young women in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

Susan William, GNWP’s Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow from South Sudan, focused on the interconnection between poverty, sexual exploitation, and the lack of involvement of young women in South Sudan. Because of the lack of economic independence amongst many of the young women, they are often forced to marry or are sold to older men, she explained. She pointed out the invisibility of young women in policies and in decision-making, two of the reasons why they remain vulnerable to sexual violence and abuses.  She also appealed for funding for young women-lead organizations in South Sudan to support their advocacy.

Katrina Leclerc, GNWP’s YWPL Program Coordinator, raised awareness of the often-overlooked forms of violence in Canada particularly the 1,200+ Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada. “Gender-based violence is not limited to rape as a weapon of war,” she stressed.

Despite young people’s leadership and a government commitment towards the inclusion of youth, Katrina highlighted the problem of tokenism that remains in Canadian society. This tokenism makes it difficult for Canada’s young women leaders to have meaningful engagement with government leaders and change-makers. “Youth want to be the change and they are trying to be the change,” she pointed out. She shared that young women leaders in Canada have rallied together to call for action against the missing and murdered, to lobby parliamentarians for change, and lead the response to climate change in order to achieve lived rights for all.

During the intergenerational dialogue, the young women leaders asked questions to policymakers that included Hon. Marilou McPhedran, independent Senator from Canada;  Ambassador Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN; Marc-André Franche, Chief, Financing for Peacebuilding Branch of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office; and Faiyaz Murshid Kai, Minister Counsellor, from the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN. The dialogue included discussions on actions that policymakers can take to ensure the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making; and the development of Finland’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 2250, the international law that recognizes young people’s important role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. They also presented information on funding for youth-led peacebuilding initiatives; the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in bringing together relevant actors to marshal resources and to advise on and propose integrated strategies to help Member States in post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery; and the impact Member States may have in implementing court-based justice for victims of sexual violence.

The following is the summary of the recommendations from the young women leaders addressed to Member States, civil society, the UN, and the rest of the international community, and donors:

1. Invest in meaningful participation of youth as leaders and peacebuilders; and allocate resources to initiatives in peacebuilding, prevention of violent extremism, and sustaining peace that are led by young women;

2. Create enabling conditions and facilitate spaces for young women to gather, and formulate their own strategies to ensure their effective participation in policy- and decision- making;

3. Support economic empowerment initiatives led by young women; and

4. Guarantee the protection of women and girls’ rights and their protection from sexual and gender-based violence.


In her opening remarks, Åsa Regnér, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director put an emphasis on the diverse roles young women play in development, peace, and humanitarian contexts. She stated that the bias around age and sex limits the inclusion of young women in leadership and decision-making processes despite the vast positions they already hold. She called for a sense of urgency and for women to stop needing to explain why they deserve to have their solutions heard when they come to the table. During her remarks, Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, GNWP’s Chief Executive Officer pointed out the reality that in most conflict-affected countries, the majority of the population are young people. She underlined that the discrimination, marginalization and the sexual and gender-based violence that women confront often start in their youth. Hence, in GNWP’s work to implement the Women, Peace and Security resolutions and in promoting sustainable peace, young women are actively involved. Anneka Knutsson, Chief of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Branch of UNFPA called on male leaders to give way to more women’s voices to ensure gender equality in policy- and decision- making. “We do not want to diminish the involvement of men and boys, but to pinpoint the harmful patterns of toxic masculinity and find ways to create new masculinity together where men and boys are supportive of young women and girls in the peacebuilding process,” said Ms. Nutsson.

The “Young Women Speak Out for Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace” event was jointly organized by GNWP, UN Women, UNFPA, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, and the Permanent Missions of Finland and Bangladesh to the UN.


GNWP established the YWPL program to promote young women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, sustaining peace, and decision-making at all levels—beginning in local communities. It is based on the Localization of Resolution 1325 program that GNWP implements in various countries around the world.  The YWPL program is operational in DRC, South Sudan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Bangladesh.


*The author is a Research and Advocacy Intern at GNWP. For more information, please contact GNWP’s YWPL Program Coordinator at:

Leadership from the ground up – Executive Summary of the Report on Women Civil Society’s Perspectives on Sustaining Peace

Leadership from the ground up – Women Civil Society’s Perspectives on Sustaining Peace

Download the executive summary here.

For any questions about GNWP’s work on Sustaining Peace, please contact

Executive Summary

Following the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture in 2015, in 2016, the UN General Assembly and Security Council adopted twin resolutions (UNSC Resolution 2282 and General Assembly Resolution 70.262), emphasizing the importance of a broad approach to peacebuilding, encompassing all stages of peace, not only the immediate post-conflict reconstruction. The Sustaining Peace agenda, which has since been elaborated on by the Secretary General[1], recognizes that efforts to sustain peace are “necessary not only once conflict had broken out but also long beforehand, through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes”, and that multi-sectoral, locally-driven and owned approach is needed to ensure effective peacebuilding and conflict prevention.[2]

The agenda brings with it a great promise of a transformation of the approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Yet, in order to fulfil this promise, it has to be effectively implemented and translated into practical and necessary actions on the ground. This cannot happen without the full and meaningful inclusion of women’s civil society at all stages of the agenda’s development. To understand how women civil society understands Sustaining Peace, and how they are already operationalizing it, GNWP, with support from UN Women, has coordinated a global research, which comprised of Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in 15 countries, as well as a multi-lingual survey, which received responses from 43 countries. In total, over 1,500 people participated in the research.

The key findings of the study point to the following:

  • To women peace activists, peace is more than an absence of war – it is access to resources, education and employment; presence of strong institutions; and a culture of peace, understood as mutual respect, harmony and inclusion. Consequently, sustaining peace interventions need to focus on long-term, transformative approaches that address these issues.


  • There has been significant progress in the inclusion of women in both formal and informal peace processes, but much remains to be done. However, 13% of respondents still said women are not included at all in peace process; and 30% said they are not included at all in the implementation of peace agreements. Moreover, there is still a need to ensure that the inclusion extends to all women – including young, differently abled, and indigenous women and other marginalized groups.


  • Women’s civil society is already working to sustain peace. There are numerous examples of initiatives by women’s civil society, ranging from educating the youth; promoting and facilitating dialogue and mediation at the local level; organizing neighborhood watch to prevent electoral violence; providing skills training and income-generation activities for women; to supporting the victims of violence and conflict, for example through providing psychosocial support, or shelters for victims of violence.


  • Donor community support is appreciated, but needs to be more locally-driven. While the donor community’s efforts to support gender-sensitive peacebuilding initiatives are appreciated, there is a need for stronger local leadership in shaping international agendas and donor priorities. 20% of survey respondents reported that the local civil society was not able to influence the design of donor programs at all, and 17 per cent reported they could do so only to a limited extent.



1) Recognizing that peace is more than the absence of war, the UN, Member States and civil society should ensure that Sustaining Peace initiatives focus on long-term goals, such as strengthening state institutions; fostering a culture of peace and non-violent conflict resolution; and promoting access to social services, including health and education; and provision of employment opportunities. This requires strengthening the nexus between the peace and security efforts, including in particular the WPS agenda, development and humanitarian action.


2) The UN and Member States should put pressure on governments to include women in formal peace negotiations, crafting and implementation of peace agreements and political transitions, and ensure that this inclusion is meaningful, and extends to women from different backgrounds, and women’s civil society.


3) The UN and Member States should stop the support to and use of violence and military interventions. Member States should also ensure that they do not contribute to illicit trafficking in arms and instead support non-violent, civil-society led initiatives in conflict resolution and prevention.


4) The UN and civil society should monitor and hold governments accountable for the inclusive implementation of peace agreements as well as other laws and policies related to gender equality and peace and security, including the WPS Resolutions and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


5) The UN and Member States should create institutionalized but flexible platforms for civil society women, especially local women, to participate in formal and informal peace negotiations.


6) The UN and Member States should ensure that women, especially young, disabled and indigenous women and other marginalized groups, are fully included at all stages of the implementation of peace agreements, peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace initiatives, that their voices are heard and their contributions recognized and supported. Civil society should continuously monitor and hold the UN and Member States to account on this matter.


7) Civil society from countries that have not experienced armed conflict in the recent history should organize experience-sharing exchanges with local and grassroots civil society in conflict-affected and post-conflict countries, to exchange experiences, enhance solidarity and build capacity for Sustaining Peace.


8) The UN, Member States and donor community should support women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of the peace agreement after it is signed. It is equally if not more important to ensure that they co-lead the implementation of peace agreements. Socio-cultural and institutional barriers to their participation (including gender norms, lack of resources and lack of clear mechanisms for implementation, such as specific objectives, action plans, or roadmaps) must be addressed.


9) The donor community should increase funding for peacebuilding, conflict prevention and Sustaining Peace, especially those led by women’s civil society, and make sure this funding is long-term and predictable. Such funding should also be made flexible and accessible to local organizations; and be available at all stages of Sustaining Peace – before, during and after conflict.


[1] Report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding and sustaining peace. S/2018/43, 18 January 2018.

[2] Ibid. Paragraph 3 and 13


After 50 Years of Conflict: Colombian Journalists Discuss Their Roles in Building a Peaceful Society

After 50 Years of Conflict: Colombian Journalists Discuss Their Roles in Building a Peaceful Society

October 9, 2018 by Kelly Yzique Zea*
Bogota, Colombia
“Colombian media need to stop portraying women as victims of war but instead as survivors and peacebuilders.”

This was the  the resounding message among the participants who attended a workshop on the media and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security held in Bogotá, Colombia. The workshop co-facilitated by The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the Red Nacional de Mujeres en Colombia, and with support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of the Global Affairs Canada, convened media practitioners from different communications outlets in the country. The different perspectives led to lively discussions regarding the role of the media in both the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and the peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian Government.

Many of the participants had previous experience in preacebuilding reporting, but most of their reporting has been gender-blind. Therefore, this consultation trained media practitioners in Colombia on the WPS agenda and its related resolutions, and also provided them with a more in-depth understanding of the unique impact of war on women. The participants agreed that it is imperative to ensure that journalists are aware of women’s experiences during the war and their efforts to build peace because it enable them to report from a gender perspective. This could influence the development and implementation of laws and policies that protect women’s rights and enables the meaningful participation of women in the peace process.

The war between the FARC and the Colombian Government has affected the lives of millions of Colombians, but it has disproportionately impacted the lives of Colombian women. Karen Gonzalez from the Presidential Council on Human Rights stated that the brunt of the war has been felt by women living in conflict zones (e.g. 4,165,138 women have been impacted throughout the entirety of the war, out of which, 106,571 were indigenous women and 399,062 were Afro-Colombian women). Not only were the lives of women impacted during the years of conflict but even after the signing of the peace agreement and the reintegration process, women survivors of sexual abuse, women ex-combatants and their children still face stigma. They also have very little access to psycho-social programs and support. Therefore, it is imperative that Colombian media shifts its narrative from women as victims, to women as survivors and peacebuilders.  

It was noted that there is still a gap in the way gender issues are reported in traditional media outlets and the actual realities on the ground. Clara Ines Valdez Rivera from Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN) gave recommendations to other journalists on the importance of highlighting the voices of Afro-Colombian and indigenous women, since their experiences during the conflict differ from the experiences of other women who may have not lived in conflict-affected regions. She noted that it is important to not only report on issues that affect Afro-Colombian women but to stop promoting the idea of victimhood and instead focus on stories of empowerment and perseverance. The participants also pointed out the reporting bias in Colombian media on issues that affect women from minority groups. This is most prevalent in the #MeToo movement which encourages survivors of sexual violence and abuse to share their stories and face their violators. However, this movement is very much shaped to highlight the stories of affluent women but does not focus on the stories of local women or women of color who are at a higher risk of sexual abuse and violations. It is therefore important for journalists to become familiar with the issues that affect minority groups and to eliminate all types of prejudices from their reporting.

The participants also discussed ways to stop the dissemination of false information by conservative groups in Colombia, which led to the rejection of the peace agreement during the 2016 plebiscite. GNWP is committed to continue capacity building for the media in Colombia to improve coverage of WPS issues and generate stronger support for the implementation of the peace agreement. It hopes to hold a similar workshop with journalists from local areas that have been the most affected by the war.

Colombia is the sixth country where GNWP has implemented media consultations and workshops that help strengthen the media’s understanding of WPS and encourage gender-sensitive media coverage. With the support of the Austrian Development Agency, GNWP has implemented media and WPS in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Last month GNWP traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and will be also implementing the same media and WPS consultations in Iraq and Nigeria with support from Global Affairs Canada.

*Kelly Yzique Zea is a Program Coordinator/Policy Specialist and Focal Point for Latin America at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security: 2018 Side Events

Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security – October 2018 Side Events

Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ List of Events  


Wednesday, October 24, 10 am – 12 pm, “Leadership from the ground up: Local women’s perspectives on Sustaining Peace”

Organized by Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), UN Women, Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), and Permanent Missions to the UN, at the UN Headquarters – Conference Room 6.

Peace is not a project – it is a long-term undertaking, a culture, and a way of life. To inform the operationalization of the new Sustaining Peace agenda, GNWP conducted a global research on what “sustaining peace” means to women’s civil society. During this panel discussion, GNWP will present key findings of the research, which reached over 1,000 women in more than 40 countries. Women from Canada, the Philippines, South Sudan and Syria will also share their perspectives, reflections and recommendations. Please RSVP by October 22 to, our staff will meet you at the UNHQ East 44th Street gate and you will be escorted to the venue.



Friday, October 26, 10 am – 12 pm, “Young Women Speak Out for Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace”

Organized by Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), UN Women, Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), UNFPA, and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN at the UN Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, 8th floor.

The future is female, the future is now! Come to listen to the voices of young women who are leading peacebuilding efforts in Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines and South Sudan. The event will take the form of a Davos-style interactive discussion, during which the young women will share their experiences and perspectives on their role in building peace, and the impact they have created in their countries; as well as the challenges that young people still face, and the opportunities to overcome them. During the event, UN Women will present key findings of a Young Women Peace and Security Background Paper that was developed to feed into the Global Progress Study on Youth Peace and Security. Please RSVP to before October 25, 2018.

Young Women Speak Out for Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace

Young Women Speak Out for Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace

October 11, 2018 by Katrina Leclerc*

From an early age, girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and many other countries are told: “You are only girls.” Yet, a new generation of young women leaders has emerged, and they are taking a stand against discrimination, they promote women’s rights and gender equality, build peace and prevent violent conflicts. At the intersection of Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Women, Peace and Security (WPS) are young women, yet they suffer double discrimination as being young and women. It is crucial to acknowledge and include the diversity of voices, and address the diversity of needs, both within the WPS and YPS agendas.

This year on the International Day of the Girl Child, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) along with its partners celebrate the agency and leadership of young women in conflict prevention and achieving sustainable peace. Later this month, on October 26, 2018, GNWP with UN Women, UNFPA, the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), and Permanent Missions to the UN are thrilled to be hosting a panel discussion on the sidelines of the Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security.

We will be featuring voices from DRC, the Philippines, South Sudan, Finland, Canada, and Latin America – working together to build a network of solidarity among young women peace leaders. On the occasion, we will be showcasing the following three objectives:

1. Launch the Young Women Peace and Security Background Paper and discuss the persistent challenges faced and opportunities for young women and girls living in conflict-affected areas;

2. Highlight young women’s contributions to peacebuilding, preventing violent extremism, sexual violence and sustaining peace globally and bringing the voices into the global policy discussions around the Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security and the Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, and ensure that their leadership is recognized;

3. Generate support for young women peacebuilders initiatives including Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL) to ensure continued operation and strengthen their positive impact.

The Young Women for Peace and Leadership (formerly known as the Girl Ambassadors for Peace) is coordinated by GNWP and local partners in the DRC, South Sudan, Indonesia and the Philippines; the program will be launch in Bangladesh later this month. On September 27, 2018, GNWP co-hosted a civil society roundtable with the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) for Global Advocates Kristen Bell and Louane. The Young Women for Peace and Leadership were represented by the Program Coordinator, Katrina Leclerc, and Program Officer, Mallika Iyer, who highlighted the successes of the program in Africa and Asia. Among these, it was shared that the Young Women in DRC alone had reached over 2,000 other young women in their literacy, leadership, peacebuilding, and economic empowerment training. Since 2015, they have raised the profile of young women and girls and brought issues of sexualized violence at the forefront of peacebuilding work. The YWPL continue to be a beacon of hope and a strong voice against violence within their regions.

Join the Young Women for Peace and Leadership on October 26, 2018, from 10 am to noon at the 8th floor of the UN Church Center (777 United Nations Plaza, New York) or tune in on Facebook Live to celebrate the voices of young women leaders!


*For more information on the October 26, 2018 launch event or the YWPL program, follow the YWPL on Facebook or contact