“Women are our everything” – implementing UNSCR 1325 in Kherson, Ukraine
February 26, 2019 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos
Sharing the border with Crimea, as well as with Zaporizhia – one of the oblasts affected by the violence in Eastern Ukraine – Kherson, an oblast in southern Ukraine has faced multiple security challenges. These include high numbers of internally displaced persons, and the need to provide adequate services for veterans returning from the frontline, and their families. Women have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of conflict in Kherson. On February 14-15, 2019, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) together with its local partner, Democracy Development Center, held a writing workshop (“writeshop”) on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) 1325 and Ukraine’s National Action Plan (NAP) in Kherson.
The workshop gathered over 30 participants from different rayons and cities in the Kherson oblast. Participants included representatives of the Oblast State Administration, local (rayon) administrations and councils, city councils and the civil society. The “writeshop” built on the outcomes of GNWP’s Localization workshop in Kherson, held in June 2018.
An Oblast Action Plan was adopted in Kherson in January 2019, shortly before the “writeshop” was held. Therefore, building on the outcomes of the 2018 activities, during which key priorities for WPS implementation in the oblast were identified, the “writeshop” focused on reviewing the Oblast Action Plan to ensure that it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). The participants, with support from GNWP and DDC experts, worked to revise objectives of the plan, making them more “SMART”, and to define concrete indicators. Three objectives were strengthened in this way during the “writeshop”. The State Oblast Administration committed to integrating the changes into the Oblast Action Plan, as well as reviewing the other objectives in a similar manner.
In a short interview, Mr. Ihor Pohorily, Head of Family, Gender and Children Rehabilitation section at the Department of Social Protection in the Kherson Oblast Administration, talks about why UNSCR 1325 is important to Kherson, and how the Oblast Administration plans to ensure its effective implementation.
Q: Why is United Nations Resolution 1325 relevant to your oblast?
A: UNSCR 1325 is very important for Kherson because women’s issues are important to the oblast. The objective of this plan is to increase the participation of women at all levels of decision-making so that the women are well represented in all spheres of governance in Kherson.
Q: Can you tell us about the Kherson Oblast Action Plan and how you adopted it?
The Oblast Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 was developed following a directive from Ukraine’s Prime Minister. It was developed by the local authorities, whose duty it is to implement national laws in the oblast, and to adapt them to the local reality in Kherson.
The plan also provides orientation for local authorities, including the authorities in the rayons and cities, to develop Local Action Plans.
The Local Action Plans should respond to the concrete issues and the needs of the local populations.
Q: What are the next steps for implementing UNSCR 1325 in Kherson following the workshop conducted by GNWP and Democracy Development Center on 14-15 February 2019?
Following the workshop, today and yesterday, conducted with the support of our international partners, we committed to revising the Oblast Action Plan, using the “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound) methodology. This will be the first step towards updating and strengthening the plan. We will also collect feedback from the implementers at the local level, in order to identify the gaps in the plan and make necessary changes to ensure effective implementation of the Oblast Action Plan.
Q: How do you see your role in promoting women’s meaningful participation at all levels?
My role as a representative of the Oblast State Administration is to coordinate the actions by other key stakeholders, build the capacity of specialists who can support decision-makers at the local level to effectively implement their Local Action Plans, strengthen and monitor the activities and implementation at the local level.
Women are our everything. As a man, I strive to support them and help to make their life better every day.
February 18, 2019 by Mallika Iyer
Applause filled the halls of the Parliamentary High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kiev, Ukraine as Ella Lamakh, the Executive Director of the Democracy Development Center (DDC), inaugurated the Civil Society Network for the Implementation of Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and CEDAW in Ukraine. This newly formed civil society network will strengthen the coordination of civil society action to implement of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. As part of this effort, the network will coordinate the drafting of joint civil society shadow reports on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This will be produced in parallel with Ukraine State Party report, which will be presented and discussed in Geneva in 2021.
CEDAW and WPS are international policy instruments that are of critical importance to Ukraine. Since February 2014, the country has faced security challenges caused by the unrecognized annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, as well as the ongoing conflict in the Donbass region, in particular in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Many of the consequences of the conflict and the annexation, such as the increased prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, economic instability, political unrest, and insecurity have disproportionately affected women including rural women, women veterans, Roma women, and other minorities. In 2016, over 600 women died in non-conflict related sexual and gender-based violence and 174 who were killed as a result of conflict (UNDP 2016). Since it began in 2014, the conflict has also increased the number of internally displaced people to 1.7 million; women make up 63 percent of this number (UN Women, 2018).
However, women and other marginalized groups have not been adequately represented in the peace process. This is linked to broader discrimination faced by women in Ukraine, fueled by the rise of “anti-gender” movements, and the government’s failure to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Adopted in 2016, the Ukrainian National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 (NAP) addresses these issues. But there is a need to strengthen its implementation. As Katerina Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy with the Cabinet of Ministers and Ukraine’s NAP holder aptly stated “We have an institutional skeleton. Now we just need to build our muscles.” CEDAW can be a powerful mechanism to strengthen and better monitor the implementation of the NAP.
The Civil Society Network for the implementation of WPS and CEDAW in Ukraine was inaugurated during a training workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the WPS resolutions conducted by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in partnership with the Democracy Development Center (DDC) and with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The workshop which aimed to promote synergy between the UNSC Women, Peace, and Security Resolutions and CEDAW, and strengthen accountability for compliance of international law in Ukraine, took place on February 11- 12, 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine. It brought together 28 participants from a diverse range of women-led grassroots organizations working on the WPS agenda across the country.
The workshop featured expert presentations and hands-on exercises. Following a presentation on the core tenets and strengths of CEDAW by Shanthi Dairam, a former CEDAW committee member, the participants analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of WPS implementation in Ukraine. The need to improve coordination, especially at the local level, was highlighted as one of the key priorities, alongside providing more adequate services for Roma, IDP and rural women, and improving referral systems for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Creating the Network to facilitate coordination and information sharing was identified as a way to address these weaknesses.
The Network’s decision to draft joint-civil society CEDAW shadow reports guided by the CEDAW General Recommendation 30 on conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations highlights the importance of the CEDAW as an accountability mechanism. The participants also worked together to identify priority WPS issues that should be highlighted in the civil society shadow report for 2021 including sexual violence against women in grey zones and occupied territories; the social infrastructure and attitudes in the security sector; the rights of IDP and Roma women; psycho-social counselling and support for women veterans, widows, and IDPs; and domestic violence. The workshop participants committed to improve coordination, collaboration, and information-exchange on WPS implementation, thus making an important step towards strengthening accountability for compliance with international law in Ukraine.
GNWP plans to continue facilitating CEDAW-WPS synergy training in different countries to improve implementation of these two important international instruments on gender equality, women’s rights, peace and security. For additional information and insights on this work, please see the policy brief: https://gnwp.org/publications/synergies-cedaw-wps/.
 https://ukraine.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Economic%20Costs%20of%20Violence_2017_3.pdf ; accessed 02-17-19
February 7, 2019 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos
Without meaningful inclusion of women, there can never be a lasting solution to armed conflicts, and as a result, no sustainable development. The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 recognized this fact and shifted the perception of women in conflict from that of victims to that of change-makers and agents of peace. Yet, in practice, women are still often perceived as passive victims or bystanders, and the images of women as peacebuilders are largely absent from the media, including in Nigeria.
The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), together with the West African Network of Peacebuilders (WANEP) – Nigeria, and with support from the Global Affairs Canada, organized a workshop on the role of the media in implementing the UNSCR 1325. Held in Abuja, Nigeria on February 4-5, 2019, the workshop convened journalists from across Nigeria to discuss how media can highlight women’s roles as leaders, peacebuilders and decision-makers; and to draft a comprehensive media and communications strategy for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the supporting Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions in the country.
The workshop combined expert presentations on the media landscape in Nigeria, gender and WPS in the media with hands-on sessions during which the participants discussed the representation of women in the Nigerian media. The participants analyzed the content of major Nigerian daily newspapers and observed that only between 5 and 10 per cent of stories feature women. Moreover, these stories stereotype women as victims or project them in their traditional roles as mothers and wives. The broader spectrum of women’s roles as leaders, political figures, voters, change-makers and peacebuilders is not recognized by the media.
Building on these observations, the journalists were asked to identify concrete strategies to strengthen the role of the Nigerian media in implementing the WPS agenda. As Ms. Bridget Osakwe, the National Network Coordinator of WANEP-Nigeria, put it, “Media is a key partner in promoting broad public awareness and therefore effectively implementing UNSCR 1325. We want each journalist to ask themselves a question: what can I do to promote this agenda, and make sure the representation of women in the Nigerian media is changed?”
Some of the concrete commitments made by the journalists include: establishment of a network of Nigerian journalists working on UNSCR 1325 that will serve as a venue to disseminate and share information that is useful for media coverage; production of radio segments focused on WPS; translating materials on UNSCR 1325 into local languages; and writing monthly columns on issues related to WPS.
“If a story is good, it will be published”, emphasized one of the participants. The media landscape in Nigeria is challenging, and journalists find it hard to publish or broadcast many important issues in a highly competitive environment. The participants identified human interest stories, profiles of women mediators; in-depth analysis of the changing role of women in North-Eastern Nigeria in relation to the insurgency, as well as investigative reports about women’s participation in governance and insurgency as media worthy materials, which would help highlight the importance of WPS.
The journalists left the workshop inspired and motivated to change the way women’s roles are depicted in the coverage of peace and security issues in the Nigerian media. “Change is possible. But we need to be deliberate about it, and make sure we upturn the narrative and put the women at the center” – concluded one of the participants.
February 4, 2019 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos
“In Nigeria, like in many other countries affected by conflict, women and girls bear the burden of violent conflict, but are excluded from formal conflict management and peace processes.” With these words, the High Commissioner for Women’s Affairs and Social Development in Gombe State, Nigeria welcomed the participants of a Localization workshop organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) – Nigeria with support from the Global Affairs Canada. GNWP and WANEP held the workshop in Gombe State on January 28 and 29, 2019, and in the neighbouring Bauchi State on January 31 and February 1, 2019. The Localization workshops convened representatives from the State and local governments; civil society; traditional and religious leaders; security sector; and the media to discuss the relevance of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and other Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions to their State and local communities.
Bauchi and Gombe are both located in North-East Nigeria, the part of the country that has been the most affected by the violent Boko Haram insurgency. Between 2011 and 2018, over 35,000 people were killed in the insurgency, at least 1.7 million people remain internally displaced, an overwhelming majority of whom are women. Bauchi and Gombe have been affected by the violence, and have also received many of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to their location just south of the Borno State – the home base of Boko Haram. The impact of the violence is strongly gendered. Due to gender norms and stereotypes, women have been targeted by Boko Haram, sexually violated, and recruited as suicide bombers. Those who returned have faced rejection from their communities. The insecurity in Bauchi and Gombe is further fuelled by land disputes and violent conflict between farmers and pastoralists; as well as by political violence, stemming from rivalry between key political parties. The impact of these conflicts is also gendered. For example, as a representative of the security sector in Gombe pointed out, the widespread political violence discourages women from participating in politics and running for office.
Nigeria adopted its second National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS in May 2017. The efforts to implement the NAP at the State and local level have been ongoing since then, supported by various international actors. The Localization workshops further contributed to and built on these efforts. During the workshops, the participants learned about UNSCR 1325 and discussed how it is relevant to their State and their local communities. They have identified the key priority areas for the implementation, and the concrete actions necessary to address these priorities.
In Gombe, where a State Action Plan (SAP) for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 has already been adopted, the participants focused on priority actions to implement the NAP and the SAP in their local communities. Examples of such actions included: traditional leaders building awareness of the negative impacts of drug abuse in their communities, providing mediation training for women to enable them to mitigate the farmer-pastoralist conflict, and holding political parties accountable to their commitment to condemn any political violence, by signing non-violence accords with representatives of the political parties, including at the grassroots level. These actions will form a basis of Local Governance Area (LGA) Action Plans. So far, only 2 out of 11 LGAs have adopted Action Plans.
The workshop participants formed a Localization Steering Committee composed of representatives of the State government, LGA government, civil society, traditional leaders and the security sector. The Committee will ensure that the agreed actions and priorities will be disseminated, and transformed into specific and actionable local action plans across all 11 LGAs. To support this, GNWP and WANEP, in partnership with the Office of the Honorable Commissioner for Women’s Affairs, is planning “echo trainings” to disseminate the outcomes of the workshop and ensure commitment across the State.
In Bauchi, the participants appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the Women, Peace and Security agenda, since only two of them have heard of UNSCR 1325 before. The workshop focused on building the knowledge and capacity of the key stakeholders; and on formulating a draft State Action Plan. The State Permanent Secretary for Women’s Affairs and Deputy Director for Women’s Affairs have committed to taking the plan forward and ensuring its finalization and adoption. A Technical Working Group was also appointed to finish the work on the draft State Action Plan, with technical inputs from GNWP and WANEP. Some of the priority actions for the SAP included: economic empowerment of women and youth to prevent conflict; ensuring sexual and gender-based violence survivors’ access to adequate healthcare; and sensitization of traditional leaders to reduce etho-religious conflict.
The participants of both workshops also made concrete personal and professional commitments to UNSCR 1325 implementation. These included: teaching their daughters and sons to respect each other, and to be loving and peaceful individuals; sharing the knowledge gained through the workshop with colleagues in their department or organization; and reporting about women’s role in peacebuilding in their work as journalists.
“An empowered woman is not a threat to her husband. She is an asset to her husband, and to her community.” These words of Professor Patricia Donli, a gender expert and a resource person for the two workshops were the main message that the participants took away from the Localization workshops in Bauchi and Gombe. They left inspired, taking with them the concrete commitments and the plans of next steps to strengthen the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Bauchi and Gombe in the coming months.