33333333 11111111111 June 2021 – GNWP
Month: June 2021

Month: June 2021

Rwandan government and civil society discuss the use of CEDAW to advance women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and recovery

15 June 2021

By Emem Bassey, Peacebuilding Program Intern for Africa, GNWP

“To implement something well, you have to monitor it. Monitoring helps see the gaps. Reporting on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) gives us an opportunity to reflect on the gaps in the implementation of Women, Peace and Security resolutions” –Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos, Director of Programs, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

GNWP in partnership with ISOKO Partners and Benimpuhwe, civil society organizations working in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, organized a workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and its supporting resolutions from 31 March to 1 April 2021. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Rwandan Government, civil society, and UN entities, focused on the use of CEDAW as a complementary reporting mechanism on the implementation of the WPS resolutions. It was organized in relation to Rwanda’s report to CEDAW wherein both the Government and civil society will submit reports. The organizing of the workshop was supported by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.  

Importance of assessment of WPS resolutions’ implementation and reporting

The workshop enabled the government and civil society participants to assess the progress in the implementation of the WPS resolutions and the remaining gaps. They also identified concrete recommendations for more effective implementation of the WPS resolutions and the National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS. Specific to civil society participants, it was an opportunity to review the draft report prepared by the government and provide their comments.

The workshop allowed participants to discuss many topics including the ways women are affected by conflicts and refugee crises; women’s roles as actors for peace; the need for women to be present in security sector institutions; the meaningful participation of women in local decision-making and conflict resolution structures; and, the need to support women both as voters and candidates in national and local elections. Importantly, the participants discussed the progress and the persistent challenges in the implementation of the WPS agenda, which should be reflected in the upcoming CEDAW report.

Analyzing the progress and gaps in WPS resolutions’ implementation

The topics discussed during the workshops were far-reaching and covered a multitude of areas. Some of the highlights of the discussions are the following: 

  • Identifying important advances to the implementation of the WPS agenda. Advances included the establishment of the national machinery for the advancement of women, the mainstreaming of gender equality across government policies and development frameworks –  including the country’s “Vision 2050” strategy, and the introduction of a quota for women’s participation in District Councils and the Executive Council in the city of Kigali.
  • The prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) and lack of access to services for GBV victims and survivors. Rates of violence remain high despite the measures put in place by the government – such as the Gender Accountability Days (GAD), a series of activities held at the district level to raise awareness, enhance accountability for gender equality, and prevention and response to GBV. The participants emphasized that CEDAW implementation and the effective use of the media and communication channels are critical instruments to address GBV.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on WPS agenda implementation in the country, and the need to ensure that the COVID-19 recovery be gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive. The pandemic has revealed the widened gaps in social systems, and their disproportionate impact on women and girls. Across Africa, lockdown measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus have left many women with no escape from abusive partners. As a result, the cases of domestic violence and GBV increased in Rwanda during the pandemic. The participants concluded that the pandemic underscored the urgent need for full and effective implementation of the WPS agenda, to ensure that women’s rights are protected and that they participate in advocacy and lead the search for solutions.
  • The importance of involving young women and men in conversations about WPS implementation and GBV prevention. The participants recommended that gender studies be included in school curricula, in order for children to grow up with the understanding of gender equality. They also emphasized the importance of localizing the WPS agenda (see #Localization1325), to raise local government’s awareness of this international law, and ensure they can effectively contribute to its implementation and eradication of GBV. They identified concrete strategies – such as town hall meetings and dissemination of leaflets – to ensure that community members, including women and young women, are aware of the government’s COVID-19 responses including the economic packages available to them.

Crisis and Risk Communications Training

The workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the WPS resolutions was followed by a training focusing on the importance of communication during conflicts and crises, such as a pandemic. The training was organized by GNWP, in partnership with the Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and was attended by women and gender equality activists from across Rwanda, who have been first-responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the findings of the workshop on the CEDAW and WPS synergies, the workshop created a space for women from civil society to develop an advocacy and communications strategy that calls for a gender-specific and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response and recovery.

During this second day of the workshop, participants identified advocacy messages around COVID-19 response and recovery and designed strategies to distribute messaging. As a follow-up to the workshop, GNWP and RWN will transform these messages into information, education and communications materials, which will be widely disseminated, and will complement civil society’s efforts to advance the implementation of WPS resolutions through CEDAW reporting and implementation.

The two workshops provided a rich space for discussion and resulted in concrete recommendations. GNWP and its civil society partners look forward to seeing them reflected in Rwanda’s State Party report and disseminated through information, education and communications materials. Stay tuned!

Background to GNWP’s work: UNSCR 1325 and the Rwandan Genocide

In Rwanda, the UNSCR 1325 was profoundly important, as it was adopted during Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 genocide. During the genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to a mass scale of sexual violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe. Although the exact number of women who were raped will never be known, testimonies from survivors confirm that rape and other forms of sexual violence – including sexual slavery – were a widespread practice. Such practices contributed to the genocide having a devastating impact on Rwandan women.

Despite Rwandan women being greatly impacted by the genocide, women have been leaders in reconstructing the country. Even before the adoption of the UNSCR 1325 in 2000, Rwandan women have played a central role in maintaining peace and security in their communities, country and region. Women mobilized to take care of the orphans and non-accompanied children left in their communities after the genocide. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 children were fostered or adopted by families and women-headed households.

Rwandan women worked together to rebuild solidarity and mutual understanding as a first step towards national reconciliation. For example, the Forum of Rwandese women leaders and Unity Club were formed, bringing together influential women from Rwanda to promote the message of reconciliation in communities, and foster cooperation among women parliamentarians from different backgrounds. Today, women make up 61.25 percent of Rwanda’s parliament, making it the country with the highest proportion of women in the national legislature.

Recognizing the important roles of women in peacebuilding resulted in Rwanda adopting its first three-year National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 in 2009. The second generation of the NAP, adopted in 2018 for the period 2018-2022, commits Rwanda to continue its efforts to implement the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and other WPS resolutions: Protection, Prevention, Participation and Relief and Recovery. Effective monitoring of UNSCR 1325 implementation will be essential to ensuring meaningful participation, respect and protection of women’s rights.

Young Women building bridges in Georgia: Launch of Georgia’s Young Women Leaders for Peace program

14 June, 2021

By Michaela Zelenanska, Peacebuilding Programs Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, GNWP

“To me, peace means being able to move freely, cross the border you see behind me. But I cannot do it.” –Georgian participant talking about what peace and security means to them.

“Peace means stability, access to economic opportunities. In the villages along the Administrative Border Line people do not have access to jobs. Living here means being stressed all the time.” – Georgian participant talking about living along the Administrative Border Line separating Georgia from the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The quotes above are how young women from Georgia describe peace in their country. Economic opportunities, mental health, wellbeing, and mobility are the key attributes missing from their lives. They still feel the impacts of war – which officially ended in 2008, when many of them were still young children. They are determined, and ready to work towards sustainable peace.

To support young women’s leadership in peacebuilding, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the IDP Women Association ‘’Consent’’, organized an introductory three-day training on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and peacebuilding for young women and men in Georgia. The event took place on April 24-26 2021 and was supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The participants had the opportunity to analyse the relevance of these critical agendas for young people in Georgia and to talk about the importance of youth-led initiatives in building sustainable peace. The training also served as a launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Georgia.   

GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace Program

Since 2014, the GNWP´s YWL program has supported more than 7,000 young women in conflict-affected countries and communities to enhance their skills, capacities and resilience and fully realize their potential as leaders and agents of peace. The program is being implemented in seven countries outside of Georgia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Ukraine. GNWP has worked with its partners and young women to tailor a methodology to the context and needs of each participating country. They have also supported young women to run their own peacebuilding initiatives – from organizing community peace dialogues, to teaching literacy in refugee camps, to running civic education campaigns via social media.

During the Georgia training event the GNWP team shared the achievements of the young women peacebuilders with the 20 young women and men participants.  The participants were excited by the impact of these young women and inspired to join the YWL networks.

The participants shared their perspective on the situation in their country. Many of the young people were directly affected by the long conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia: two regions that have seceded from Georgia and formally declared independence in 1999 and 1991 respectively. Even though the conflict in Georgia is often described as “frozen”, it still has tangible impacts on the lives of Georgian people – including young women and men. Some of the participants were internally displaced or lived in the so-called ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) villages, where skirmishes still happen. Therefore they feel the consequences of the conflict every day.

Throughout the training, the young participants became acquainted with the WPS and YPS agendas. They showed a very good understanding of the effects of conflict and violence on women and young people. Thanks to the engaging “crash course” on peacebuilding, organized by Yago Pasandze, Executive Director of NGO Saunje and youth trainer, the participants were able to discuss and explore specific concepts, such as peace trust recovery, democracy and justice, and their relevance to their own situations. They also directly applied their newly-gained knowledge through interactive exercises.

A crucial part of the training was reflecting on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Georgia. Participants shared personal stories about the impacts of the pandemic on their communities – including increased domestic violence and negative effects on women´s rights, as well the negative effects of the pandemic on education – schools were closed in Georgia during certain periods of the national lockdown that affected access to education.

All the young people who participated in the training emphasized the necessity of achieving a sustainable peace in Georgia. They also highlighted the role of young people in conflict resolution. The participants were primarily from the new generation that does not remember the once peaceful coexistence of Georgians and Abkhazians. Nevertheless, they shared their hope that it would be their generation who would build the bridges between the two sides of the border. 

The 3-day training was full of inspiration and motivation. The GNWP team was glad to see the enthusiasm of the participants, and look forward to continuing the implementation of the YWL program in Georgia. Didi madloba!

Young women’s drawn responses to the question: “What does peace mean to you?”