Year: 2019

Year: 2019

55+ Women and Youth Organizations and Networks Launch the Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security – Youth, Peace, and Security Action Coalition

55+ Women and Youth Organizations and Networks Launch the Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security – Youth, Peace, and Security Action Coalition

 

On December 12th, 2019, 55+ organizations and networks representing over 35 countries from all regions of the world launched the Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security – Youth, Peace, and Security Action Coalition in New York and online. They expressed concerned about the weak participation of women and young women peacebuilders in regional Beijing +25 consultations. They vowed to advocate for strong language on Women, Peace, and Security and Youth, Peace, and Security in the outcome documents of the Beijing +25 processes.

 

The WPS-YPS Action Coalition’s objectives are to:

1. Increase awareness of civil society organizations, in particular grassroots organizations working in conflict affected countries and territories about the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Beijing +25 process and ensure that their key messages on the WPS and YPS Agendas are reflected in all discussions on Beijing +25, including the Generation Equality Global Forum and their outcome documents;

2. Improve coordination and collaboration among civil society organizations that advocate for the effective implementation of the YPS and WPS resolutions in order to strengthen impact of advocacy with Member States, UN entities, regional organizations in the lead up to the Generation Equality Global Forum and beyond;

3. Facilitate discussions on the intersection of WPS and YPS with the other thematic focuses of the Generation Equality Forum namely, environmental conservation; protection and rehabilitation; freedom from violence; stigma and stereotypes; poverty eradication; social protection and social services; inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions;

4. Produce a WPS-YPS advocacy paper that strongly reflects local voices and brings together key civil society advocacy messages and asks from all sub-thematic areas of the WPS and YPS Agendas, including their intersections with the other thematic areas of the Generation Equality Global Forum; and

5. Present core messages in the WPS-YPS advocacy paper in all key events on Beijing + 25, 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and 5th anniversary of UNSCR 2250; and advocate for their integration into the Beijing+25 Feminist and Women’s Movement Action Plan as well as in 2020 reports of the Secretary-General on WPS and YPS.

 

The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action coincides with two other important anniversaries: the 20th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS); and the 5th anniversary of UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). WPS and YPS agendas recognize the agency and critical roles played by women and young women in conflict-resolution, conflict-prevention, prevention of sexual violence in conflict, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace. Strong synergy between the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the WPS and YPS resolutions is necessary to build intersectional solidarity and galvanize global action on women’s rights, gender equality, peaceful and inclusive societies.

 

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To join the B+25 WPS-YPS Global Coalition listserv, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/6Z7tsyj8xe8bPneU7

For more information, please contact: Mallika Iyer, Program Officer, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders; Mallika@gnwp.org

 


The Fourth World Women’s Conference was held over a two-week period in Beijing, China in September 1995. The Conference provided a forum for thousands of delegates representing 189 countries and approximately 30,000 activists to collaborate on the most ambitious framework for the advancement of women’s rights to date. This collaborative process, which involved debate, negotiation, lobbying and networking between stakeholders resulted in the policy framework called the Beijing Platform for Action.

The Beijing Platform outlined twelve critical areas of concern for the advancement of women’s rights, which continue to be relevant today. They deal with the relationships between women and: Poverty; Education and training; Health; Violence against women; Armed Conflict; Economy; Power and decision-making; Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; Human rights; Media; Environment; and the girl child.

GNWP welcomes 4th Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow: Heela Yoon from Afghanistan

GNWP welcomes 4th Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow: Heela Yoon from Afghanistan

November 25, 2019 by Beatriz Ciordia

“I grew up in a patriarchal society where women face harassment and discrimination on a daily basis. Women make up 48.45% of the Afghan population. Only 19% women have college education; and only 16% women are in the labor force. Say something else for example on access to reproductive health care; 17.65% women in the cabinet; women’s economic rights before jumping into their representation in the Parliament.   Only 25.6% of the Afghan lower house are women. Only 26% are in the High Peace Council. Only 20% women participated in the peace talks in Doha. “

“72% of the Afghan population lives in rural areas and yet, local women are not involved in the peace talks or in the development of the National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). It is time for the Afghan Government and international community to realize that UNSCR 1325 is not just for women in Kabul but also in rural areas.”

Despite having just arrived in New York, the words of Heela Yoon resonated with those who took part in the events for the 19th anniversary of UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Heela recently joined GNWP as the fourth recipient of the Cora Weiss Fellowship for Young Women Peacebuilders, which supports the development of young women peacebuilders. The Fellowship honors Cora Weiss, a life-long women’s rights, human rights, and peace activist who is one of the civil society drafters of UNSCR 1325.

Prior to joining GNWP, Heela worked as a desk officer and coordinator for the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, where she was also a member of the committee for implementing UNSCR 1325. Currently, she is a member of Global Nomads Group and the Soola School of Leadership Afghanistan.

Heela’s commitment to uplifting women from poverty and illiteracy encouraged her to establish the Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association which seeks to strengthen and empower women and improve their participation in state-building and peacebuilding processes. Heela graduated from Kabul University with a bachelor in Law and Political Science in 2017, and is currently pursuing a bachelor degree in Business Administration at the American University of Afghanistan.

As a Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow, Heela will be part of GNWP’s International Coordinating Team for one year, where she will work to promote the effective implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 2250, as well as the supporting resolutions on WPS, and Youth, Peace and Security, (YPS), particularly at the national and local levels. She will also participate in the coordination of GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership Program which aims to build the capacities of young women in conflict-affected areas and in humanitarian situations with a specific focus on leadership, literacy, peacebuilding, preventing violent extremism, and economic empowerment.

To learn more about Heela and her work at GNWP, listen to this month’s podcast! Heela also discusses some of the challenges she encountered in the implementation of the WPS resolutions at the local level, as well as her thoughts on the future of the WPS and YPS Agenda in her country.

Integrating Gender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemen

Photo: Yemeni human rights investigators discuss the importance of integrating a gender equality and peace and security lens in human rights documentation and advocacy during the training organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, and with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.

Integrating Gender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemen

November 20, 2019 by Dinah Lakehal and Mavic Cabrera Balleza

The United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions on Sustaining Peace reaffirm the link and underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace, wherein ‘respect for, and protection of, human rights and fundamental freedoms’ are an integral component. Human rights monitoring and investigation are core aspects of efforts in peace, reconciliation and sustainable peace.

A critical element of human rights documentation and investigation that contribute to sustainable peace is the awareness of specific patterns and norms related to gender-based discrimination and the use of gender analysis.  Gender analysis can prevent overlooking critical human rights violations or abuses. It can also strengthen the investigations and reports by contributing to an analysis that addresses the adverse human rights impact that certain human rights situations or crises can have on different individuals or populations, including women, men, girls and boys, as well as on LGBTI or persons with nonbinary gender identities. This gender sensitive analysis can therefore contribute to better tailor the recommendations and the response provided to violations.

However, human rights investigators in Yemen often lack the specific skills and capacities to integrate a gender analysis into their investigation. Responding to the request of Yemeni human rights organizations to enhance their capacities in integrating a gender perspective in their human rights documentation, the Global Network of Women Peaceuilders (GNWP) facilitated the training “IntegratingGender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemenwith Yemeni human rights organizations.  

With support from the Swiss Development Cooperation and in partnership with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, GNWP  held a training on November 17 – 18, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to support human rights investigators representing different governorates in Yemen to build critical skills to reflect women’s distinct rights and needs – and the differential impact that the conflict has on them – in their reports. As one of the participants of the training stated, “the conflict in Yemen impacts men and women differently, it’s important to reflect that in our reporting.”

The civil war in Yemen, which began in 2015, has plunged the country into what the United Nations has categorized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 24 million people – close to 80 percent of Yemen’s population – needing urgent humanitarian assistance.

Women, young women, and girls have been disproportionately affected by the conflict. In addition to increasing the economic burden of women and depriving millions of girls of their access to education, the UN estimates that the conflict has led to a 63 percent increase in the levels of violence against women.

Despite the challenges they face, women are at the forefront of peacebuilding in Yemen, as mediators in community conflicts over resources, providers of basic services, and human rights defenders. Yet, they remain excluded from peace processes and political decision-making as was evident in attempts by the international community in the pursuit of a political solution and de-escalation of the conflict.

As a result of the November 2019 training, participants representing Mwatana For Human Rights, a leading human rights organization in Yemen, as well as other human rights groups committed to strengthen the integration of gender-sensitive analysis in their human rights reporting, and to disseminate the information learned from the training with other Yemeni civil society organizations. .

The training provided an opportunity for participants to conduct hands-on exercises and in-depth conflict analyzes with a gender and human rights lens, as well as to participate in collaborate expert presentations on International policy instruments – namely, the WPS resolutions, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the on-going Beijing +25 process.

GNWP will continue the collaboration with Yemeni human rights organizations in integrating a gender perspective in human rights monitoring and documentation. It will also work with Yemeni civil society in integrating WPS in future civil society shadow reports to CEDAW.

Learning Together, Inspiring Each Other: Regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace Training in Bangladesh and Indonesia

Learning Together, Inspiring Each Other: Regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace Training in Bangladesh and Indonesia

November 13, 2019 by Mallika Iyer  

Edited by Mavic Cabrera Balleza

“I used to be like the moon, receiving light from only one star. I was focused only on my personal interests and education. After joining the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program, I have learned that women are empowered by so many international laws and capable of anything they set their minds to. I’m like the sun now. I can provide light to help other young women grow,” Elza, a young woman from Lamongan, East Java, Indonesia shared.

With support from NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders has created a strong network of 110 young women leaders in conflict situations and humanitarian emergencies in Bangladesh and Indonesia who support and inspire each other to realize their full potentials as leaders, peacebuilders, and change agents addressing peacebuilding and preventing and countering violent extremism in their communities. By promoting synergies between the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agendas, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace, a member of GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL) program, has enhanced the leadership potential and peacebuilding skills of young women who, as significant actors in their local communities, contribute to an invincible youth movement for peace, equality, and sustainable development.

Between September 3 and 9, 2019, GNWP and its local partners organized a regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) training in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to foster solidarity between young women leaders in Bangladesh and Indonesia. The training also facilitated information and experience-sharing of good practices and lessons learned in their efforts to advocate for the role of young women in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism in both countries and strengthened the regional youth network of young women peacebuilders.

Guided by expert advice and facilitation from GNWP Board Members Bandana Rana, CEDAW Committee Chair from Nepal, and Independent Senator Marilou McPhedran from Canada, the GA4P from Bangladesh and Indonesia who participated in the regional training compared and contrasted the peace and security situations in their countries and communities. They identified common issues such as the prevalence of early, forced, and child marriage, radical and violent extremist groups, and gender inequality perpetuated by social norms and antiquated laws.

Bangladesh has the second-highest the prevalence of early, forced, and child marriage in the world; similarly, Indonesia has approximately 1,459,000 child brides, the eighth highest absolute number of child brides in the world.[1] Many of the GA4P in Bangladesh and Indonesia personally experience familial – or societally-induced – early, forced, and child marriage.[2] “My parents hide my school bag and books in an effort to prevent me from going to school. They are forcing me to get married. That prompted me to run away from my home. Now that I am living alone, it is difficult for me to financially support myself and pay my school fees,” a GA4P from Bangladesh, shared during the regional training. In response, the GA4P from Indonesia drafted and distributed a statement condemning early, forced, and child marriage, as a fundamental violation of human rights, which denies girls their childhood, disrupts higher education, limits socio-economic opportunities, increases the risk of intimate partner violence, and threatens the health of girls and young women. During the regional training, the Indonesian GA4P shared their experiences in collecting signatures from prominent local youth and civil society organizations for the statement. They explained how they were able to effectively communicate their demands to district-level leaders such as the Regent and Vice-Regent of Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Lamongan, East Java, resulting in these leaders’ support for all effective and appropriate measures to abolish traditional practices, which permit or support early, forced, and child marriage.

During the regional training, the young women also discussed the importance of regional advocacy for gender-responsiveness to humanitarian emergencies such as the Rohingya crisis. Rohingya refugee women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh live in overcrowded and mismanaged camps, where they remain vulnerable to sexual violence, devastating floods, and cyclones. Indonesia too is reported to be hosting a population of 12,000 Rohingya refugees in Aceh, Sulawesi, and North Sumatra. Despite significant cultural and language barriers, Indonesians in small fishing communities in Aceh have been welcoming and sympathetic to the refugees, offering food, shelter, and other donations. However, as time has passed, humanitarian relief aid provided by international organizations and the Indonesian government has been depleted. Meanwhile, the number of reports of Rohingya refugees attempting to smuggle themselves to Indonesia and Malaysia in rickety fishing boats in order to escape the dire conditions in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh is steadily increasing. It has become clear that regional cooperation is necessary to address the treatment of the Rohingya people.

Local Bangladeshi women from host communities and Rohingya women and girl refugees living in refugee camps continue to face marginalization and discrimination as a result of the lack of access to education and other basic social services. To curb gender discrimination and improve access to education, the Bangladeshi GA4P have conducted 20 gender-sensitive, age-appropriate functional literacy and numeracy classes with over 180 women and girls. In addition to empowering Rohingya refugee and host community women to read and write, the literacy classes provided a safe space for Rohingya refugee women to share personal issues related to sexual violence in the camps (including intimate partner violence), child marriage, security concerns, and dowries. The GA4P in Bangladesh play a crucial role in dispelling anti-Rohingya rhetoric and negative perceptions developing within host communities as a result of unequal access to and competing demands for resources and social services. The young women work to create positive dialogues between the two communities, beginning with providing basic literacy and numeracy education to Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host community women in Cox’s Bazar.

The Indonesian young women observed their Bangladeshi counterparts as they facilitated a gender-sensitive, age-appropriate functional literacy and numeracy class with Rohingya refugee women and girls in Balukhali Refugee Camp (Camp 9). Inspired by the leadership and teaching skills of the Bangladeshi young women, the Indonesian GA4P committed to working together to develop joint advocacy strategies to support the empowerment of Rohingya refugee women and girls in both countries.

Ultimately, learning about the experiences of other young women leaders in similar yet different cultural, socio-political, and economic contexts during the regional training inspired and motivated the GA4P to further the youth-led advocacy movement for sustainable peace and development. The Girl Ambassadors for Peace are a strong and diverse regional network of young women who represent different religions and ethnic minorities. With enhanced capacities as leaders, peacebuilders, and change agents, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace continue to contribute to gender equality, sustainable development and inclusive and long-lasting peace in their local communities. 


[1] https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/indonesia/, accessed 07-27-2019

[2] https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/indonesia/, accessed 07-27-2019

Report launch: Building and Sustaining Peace from the Ground Up

Peace from the Ground Up: A Study of What Sustaining Peace Means to Women from Local Communities and Civil Society

On 30 October 2019, GNWP has launched the full report from the global research on how what “Sustaining Peace” means to local women and civil society around the world. The research, led by GNWP with support from UN Women and in partnership with local civil society organizations and researchers, reached over 1,600 people in 50 countries through a multilingual survey, KIIs and FGDs. It provides insights and concrete recommendations on how to implement the Sustaining Peace resolutions in a way that is inclusive, gender-sensitive and locally-led.

The promise of “maintaining international peace and security” is one of the most important commitments of the United Nations (UN), and securing peace one of its most central tasks. Yet, it is also a promise that has proven to be the most elusive. Conflict and instability continue to be widespread across the world. According to the Global Peace Index, in 2018, “global peacefulness declined for the fourth straight year (…)  as a result of growing authoritarianism, unresolved conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, and increased political instability across the world.” On the eve of the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, and 75th anniversary of the United Nations, it is more important than ever to reflect on more effective ways of preventing conflict, building and sustaining peace.

The substantively identical Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace (UNSC Resolution 2282 and General Assembly Resolution 70/262) are an important step towards building a more inclusive and sustainable peace. They put forth a vision of peacebuilding that is context-specific, locally-driven and demands coherence, coordination and concerted actions across the UN system, Member States, civil society and other stakeholders. They underscored that sustaining peace should be understood as a “goal and a process to build a common vision of a society, ensuring that the needs of all segments of the population were taken into account.”  Similarly, in his January 2018 report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace (A/72/707–S/2018/43), the Secretary-General noted that “[c]ommunity-level engagement by the United Nations is [a] critical component of sustaining peace.” Inclusion of local women – and local communities – in decision-making about peacebuilding is of paramount importance, and a foundation of sustainable peace. They have not only to be engaged, but to have full ownership of, and take a lead role in, peacebuilding efforts.”

Local women and civil society are the pioneers of Sustaining Peace. Their great interest and enthusiastic participation in GNWP’s research sends a clear message at this historic and critical juncture: “We want to be heard! We want to be part of the global discussions and decision-making on sustaining peace!” We are proud to be able to share this report, and hope that it will inform the commitments that will be made ahead of the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and Beijing +25 commemoration, and the ensuing interventions.

 

The Key Findings and Recommendations of the research are as follows: 

 

Key Finding 1 – Peace cannot be defined merely as an absence of war or armed conflict. To women’s civil society around the world, human security, sustainable development, responsible natural resource management, good governance and a harmonious community relying on non-violent conflict resolution are the foundation of peace.

Key Finding 2 – The Sustaining Peace agenda should focus on long-term changes, such as supporting inclusive and accountable institutions; challenging militarized response to conflict and fostering a “culture of peace”; implementing sustainable development programs; and guaranteeing access to education and employment.

Key Finding 3 – There has been some progress in the inclusion of women in both formal and informal peace processes. However, women remain excluded many peace processes. Moreover, there is still a need to ensure that the inclusion extends to all women – especially the youth, women with disabilities, indigenous women, refugees, internally displaced, and other marginalized groups – are fully included, and that their roles go beyond being observers or advisors to being key influencers and co-decision-makers.

Key Finding 4 – Patriarchal culture and societal practices, the political and economic exclusion of women, low levels of education and awareness, and the lack of resources and poverty prevent women from participating in peace processes and decision-making. To address these challenges, it is necessary to create enabling conditions and platforms for grassroots women’s effective participation.

Key Finding 5 – Women’s participation in the implementation of peace agreements is generally poorer than their participation in peace negotiations. The lack of political will, and insufficient support from governments, donors and the international community more broadly, were identified as key challenges. This highlights the need to maintain the pressure and provide support for women’s participation in the long-term, beyond the signing of peace agreements.

Key Finding 6 – Despite the challenges they face, women are active in building and sustaining peace at national and local levels. When they participate in the implementation of peace agreements, they help ensure that implementation is effective and that it benefits everyone. Where there are no peace agreements, women work at the grassroots level to advocate for peace, as well as to deliver relief, promote sustainable development and address root causes of conflict, such as climate change and gender inequality.

Key Finding 7 – Donor programming often excludes local communities, especially women, from design, planning and implementation. Donors need to be inclusive and flexible, and provide support to women’s rights organizations of varying sizes – including grassroots organizations – and encourage diverse initiatives.

 

Recommendations:

 

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; promoting access to social services, including health and education; and providing economic empowerment and employment opportunities. This requires strengthening the nexus between peace and security efforts, in particular between the WPS agenda, and development and humanitarian action. (See Key Findings 1 and 2)

2. The UN should put pressure on governments to ensure women’s meaningful participation in formal peace negotiations, crafting and implementation of peace agreements and political transitions, and ensure that women civil society and women of diverse backgrounds are fairly represented. (See Key Findings 3 and 4)

3. The UN and Member States should ensure women’s meaningful participation in formal peace negotiations, the crafting and implementation of peace agreements and political transitions, and ensure that women’s civil society and women of diverse backgrounds are fairly represented. (See Key Findings 3 and 4)

4. Member States should stop the use of violence and military interventions as a means of resolving conflicts. They 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. (See Key Finding 1)

5. 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) and Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 5 and Goal 16. (See Key Finding 5)

6. The UN and Member States should ensure that women, especially youth, women of all abilities, indigenous women, refugees, internally displaced, and other marginalized groups, are fully included at all stages of the implementation of peace agreements, as well as in all building and sustaining peace and conflict prevention initiatives. They should guarantee that women’s voices are heard, and that their contributions are recognized and supported. This entails making sure that gender-sensitive provisions and language proposed by women are included in the final peace agreement and not removed in the course of negotiations. Civil society should monitor and hold the UN and Member States to account on this matter. (See Key Findings 3 and 7)

7. Civil society from countries that have not experienced armed conflict in recent history should organize experience-sharing exchanges with local and grassroots civil society in conflict-affected and post-conflict countries, to enhance solidarity, build capacity, and develop joint advocacy strategies for Sustaining Peace. (See Key Findings 4 and 5)

8. The UN, Member States and the donor community should support the meaningful participation of women from diverse backgrounds and sectors in the implementation of peace agreements after they are signed. It is equally, if not more, important to ensure that women co-lead the implementation of peace agreements. The donor community should also eliminate socio-cultural and institutional barriers to women’s participation including gender norms, lack of resources and lack of clear mechanisms for implementation. (See Key Findings 5 and 6)

9. The donor community should increase funding for peacebuilding, conflict prevention and Sustaining Peace, especially for initiatives 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. Women should have access and opportunities to shape donor priorities – including through their meaningful participation in donor conferences. (See Key Finding 7)