Month: November 2019

Month: November 2019

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