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Year: 2023

Year: 2023

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a pilot for the Localization of the Youth, Peace and Security strategy: the contribution of the Young Women Leaders in North and South Kivu

14 October 2023 by Simone Mbodé Diouf , Émilie Katondolo  and Esther Atosha 

Edited by Katrina Leclerc 

For over a decade, the Global Network for Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) has successfully implemented its Localization of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions strategy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[1]In North and South Kivu, considerable progress has been made thanks to the collaboration with local partners, including the Synergie des femmes pour les victimes de violences sexuelles (SFVS) and the Synergie des associations féminines du Congo (SAFECO). Building on the achievements of the strategy — which has been cited multiple times as a best practice in the local application of WPS by UN Secretary-General — GNWP and its local partners launched the innovative pilot process for the Localization of Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). The DRC is the second country in Africa to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) on YPS to support and recognize the role of young people in preventing violent extremism and contributing to reconciliation and peacebuilding in their communities.

With financial support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP) of Global Affairs Canada, the GNWP consortium, including ISOKO Partners for Peace and Gender Equality and Youth for Peace DRC, is supporting the chapters of GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL)[2] and the Congolese provincial YPS coalitions to adapt the Localization strategy for the local implementation of the YPS NAP in the provinces of North and South Kivu. The Localization of YPS process aims to popularize the NAP, the UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) and define strategies for developing youth, gender and conflict-sensitive policies at the local level.

Active participation in data collection during the survey phase

Members of the YWL network, in collaboration with provincial YPS coalitions, adopted the approach, which consisted of enabling young people’s leadership in the process, from data collection to the drafting of strategic documents. This approach has made the first pillar of UNSCR 2250 — participation — a reality. In addition, the leadership of young people, particularly young women, also enabled a better analysis and understanding of the unique challenges facing young women and men in the provinces of North and South Kivu.

In North Kivu, the survey results demonstrated that the challenges faced by young women include their exclusion from decision-making bodies, the multiplicity of taxes that hampers their income-generating activities and the lack of initiatives to strengthen young people’s resilience. It also illustrated the failure of protection mechanisms and relief and recovery efforts to take into account the gender-specific needs of young women during complex humanitarian contexts.

Significant input and consideration of young people’s needs in the NAP Localization and strategic advocacy documents

The validation the survey results and development of the advocacy documents for the Localization of the YPS NAP, developed by YWL members and the provincial coalitions, also illustrated the enthusiasm of young women to take a decisive place in the process. Their perspective was reflected in the strategic advocacy documents that outline the priority issues that must be addressed in local development plans and the policies of decentralized entities in the two provinces (to read the advocacy documents in French, please find them here).

Concerning the participation pillar of UNSCR 2250, it was recommended to set up a legislative preparation training center with scholarships for young women political aspirants, as well as to organize awareness campaigns on their political engagement and involvement in community peace and conflict management mechanisms. These examples constitute major achievements of young women leaders who have undoubtedly demonstrated leadership that exemplifies a paradigm shift: young women are no longer forgotten in the Youth, Peace and Security resolutions; they are actors in their own right.

Centering and amplifying the vision and aspirations of young women will ensure that advocacy for the integration of the specific needs of young people will be a success in the provinces of North and South Kivu. This is possible due to their involvement in the effective implementation of the recommendations through Localization of the YPS NAP, enabling the process to be inclusive, gender-sensitive and sustainable.

[1] GNWP’s Localization of WPS resolutions strategy is based on the ownership and contextualization of WPS policies at grassroots level with local actors. For more information, please visit: https://gnwp.org/what-we-do/global-policy-local-action/implementation-through-localization/

[2] YWL is a program initiated by GNWP in over 12 countries to support and ensure youth leadership in the synergistic implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions.

About the authors

Simone Mbodé Diouf

Program Officer for Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

Esther Atosha

Head of the YWL network in South Kivu

Émilie Katondolo

Programs Coordinator at Synergie des femmes pour les victimes de violences sexuelles (SFVS) and the Head of the YWL network in North Kivu

Katrina Leclerc

Program Director at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

Solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli Civilians Affected by the Cycles of Violence

14 December 2023

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) strongly condemns the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombings and forced displacement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023. These attacks have thus far killed 18,200 Palestinians — 75 per cent of whom are women and children. GNWP mourns the loss of every civilian life, including the 1,200 Israelis killed during Hamas’ assault in October. We grieve for Palestinian and Israeli citizens who suffer the direct and indirect impacts of brutal military occupation and the cycles of violence it engenders. GNWP stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their decades-long fight for freedom, equality and self-determination.

GNWP urges the international community to implement an immediate ceasefire and a continued administration and delivery of humanitarian and logistical aid to hospitals and Gazans. We express deep concern over the increasing number of diseases brought about by the Israeli government’s deliberate cutting off of water, food and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, fulfilling Article 2 of the Genocide Convention and Article 5 of the Rome Statute.

We are disturbed by the alarming number of civilian and media casualties, which starkly contradicts UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 on the safety of journalists and Article 9 of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which “Calls upon all parties to armed conflict to respect fully international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and girls, especially as civilians, in particular the obligations applicable to them under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the Protocol thereto of 1967, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 and the Optional Protocol thereto of 1999 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the two Optional Protocols thereto of 25 May 2000, and to bear in mind the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

In light of these, we:

  • Implore the Israeli government to implement an immediate ceasefire, the protection of all civilians and human rights activists in Palestine, the right to freedom of expression and the respect of International Human Rights and Humanitarian laws.
  • Call for the timely and uninterrupted delivery of essential humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including food, water, fuel and medicine. 
  • Urge the banning of white phosphorus bombs by the Israeli Defense Forces and condemn its unlawful use against civilian populations in Gaza and South Lebanon.
  • Call for the unconditional release of all prisoners arbitrarily detained by the Israeli government and held without a trial or charge under administrative detention.
  • Strongly urge the UN Security Council to fulfill its legal and moral responsibilities by maintaining international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter while ensuring women’s rights to participate in decision-making.

As a feminist peacebuilding coalition, GNWP recognizes the widespread impact of this aggression on Palestine, the region and the world. This ongoing and intensified violence has a profound emotional impact on Palestinian diaspora communities worldwide, who endure direct and intergenerational trauma. GNWP is committed to supporting Palestinians’ humanitarian and psychosocial needs, and sustain its support to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon through our social cohesion efforts with the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) network. We commend the efforts of Palestinian and Israeli women peacebuilders and human rights defenders in dismantling the systemic barriers to peace and security in the region. GNWP is dedicated to sustaining our partnerships with organizations building and strengthening the necessary conditions that guarantee human rights, justice and equality.

We call upon the international community and all relevant parties to prioritize peace, human rights and well-being of all civilians, especially women, children, and youth. Regrettably, the Gaza Strip has become a tragic burial ground for innocent civilians, and the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombings only serve to perpetuate violence. We must end this suffering, uphold the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and ensure that diverse women’s voices are included in finding enduring solutions.

GNWP Reports from Cameroon: Launching the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS)  in Bali Nyonga and Bamenda II 

20 November 2023 by Karen Bedoume and Katrina Leclerc

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Common Action for Gender Cameroon (COMAGEND), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in Cameroon. On 20 to 23 September 2023, with support from the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), GNWP and COMAGEND led the establishment of the Localization of WPS efforts in the Bamenda II and Bali Nyonga communities in Northwestern Cameroon. 

Since 2016, the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon have been at the core of a violent conflict that has killed over 5,000 civilians and displaced over one million Cameroonians. This ongoing conflict, dubbed the Anglophone crisis, has also given rise to unresolved local crises and disputes. It has equally exacerbated the rates of violence against women and girls – those who bear the brunt under such conditions. As a result, its escalation has called for a more rigorous implementation of the WPS resolutions and a swift response to injustices experienced by women and girls. 

In the Bamenda II municipality, Localization of WPS workshop participants highlighted the pre-established cultural and religious barriers that have consistently barred women from meaningfully contributing to decision-making and peacebuilding efforts and holding any leadership positions in their communities. Women’s economic emancipation was another common topic of concern among the discussants. According to them, many women are forced to stay in abusive marriages and relationships to ensure their survival and well-being. If they were to leave these relationships, restricted access to supportive resources could hinder their economic sustainability and autonomy. One woman participant noted, “there is a need to increasingly appreciate that the conflict affects women differently than men. This analysis is important to end the misconception that conflicts impact women and men the same way.”

Participants in Bamenda II consciously applied an intersectional lens to identify local challenges and devise gender-responsive strategies. Further capacity-building for women’s civil society leaders and psycho-social counseling for survivors of gender-based violence were among the main recommendations. The first Deputy Mayor, Tsi Louis Angwafo, and the North West Regional Delegate of the Ministry of the Promotion of Women and the Family (MINPROFF), Wirba Asan, committed to raising issues related to gender inequality within their respective government institutions and champion the application of the WPS resolutions in the Northwestern region of Cameroon.  

In Bali Nyonga,  the Mayor, Ernest Wandum Bunga, and MINPROFF Divisional Delegate, George Fuambo, highlighted women’s crucial role in building and shaping society, as well as their indispensability in peacebuilding processes. 

The participants in Bali Nyonga discussed the significant challenges they face amidst the conflict, namely weak governance and justice systems, high cost of living, land disputes and xenophobia. Moreover, participants noted that conflict often exacerbates the effects for women, finding themselves at the heart of several forms of violence. During the workshop session on “Peace and Security,” one of the women participants noted that peace means “being able to sleep in peace without thinking that something terrible will happen to me, which I haven’t felt in a long time.”

Participants emphasized that previously attempted solutions were largely ineffective due to their lack of gender-sensitivity and considerations of the WPS resolutions. In turn, participants developed a roadmap urging municipal, religious and traditional leaders to consistently include women in peace processes and mobilize efforts towards shifting cultural norms that limit women’s agency. 

GNWP and COMAGEND are grateful to the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé for their support in expanding the Localization of WPS strategy to the Bali Nyonga and Bamenda II communities. 

Karen Bedoume

Karen Bedoume

Peacebuilding Program Intern for Africa, holds an LLB in Law and International Relations from Middlesex University. Her key areas of interest are International Law, Gender Youth, Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention and Sustainable development.

Katrina Leclerc

Katrina Leclerc

Program Director, Ph.D. candidate in conflict studies at Saint-Paul University. Her academic research focuses on the synergies between the WPS and YPS agendas, and local peacebuilding approaches.

Amplifying Youth, Peace and Security in Uganda: GNWP partners with civil society organizations to support youth-led building and sustaining peace initiatives

14 November 2023 by Anne Mugo*

“I cannot mention it all, but I believe continued support for such programs is vital for young people”

In June 2023, residents of Mpondwe town in western Uganda woke up to a gruesome reminder of the impact violent conflicts have on young people. Students from 40 secondary schools were brutally killed in a horrific attack perpetrated by the terrorist-designated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Based in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the ADF’s attacks persist nationwide while recruiting and radicalizing Ugandan youth into violent extremism. Young people in Uganda, who represent 78 per cent of the population, continue to be severely impacted by this sporadic violence. Their situation is worsened by human rights violations, a shrinking civic space, internal conflicts, sexual and gender-based violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related crises. Young women are much more vulnerable to these threats and regularly face discrimination based on their age and gender. Furthermore, they are largely neglected in conflict discourses and formal peace and security initiatives and processes. 

Between March and June 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), partnered with the Coalition for Action on 1325 (CoACT) to bolster the efforts of the Ugandan Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) coalition in amplifying United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250’s recognition of youth in peacebuilding processes. The Ugandan YPS coalition comprises 9 civil society organizations alongside 106 trained peace ambassadors representing the conflict-prone districts of Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo. Currently, Uganda needs a national policy framework to guide concrete government action and the implementation of UNSCR 2250. To sustain advocacy towards developing a YPS National Action Plan (NAP), GNWP and CoACT partnered to build the capacity of coalition members to influence national and local policy processes. Over the course of four months, GNWP conducted workshops engaging the YPS coalition members in dialogues and campaigns to amplify the YPS agenda in local communities. They encouraged efforts towards its institutionalization in local and national development plans.

Knowledge Sharing and Movement Building

On 14 April 2023, nine coalition member organizations convened in a strategic planning workshop to share their experiences and present progress updates on the implementation of their local organizational action plans. Participants drew on lessons learned, embraced best practices and developed new cost-effective peacebuilding initiatives as part of their 2023 projects. Three young women-led organizations, hailing from Aburia, Kaberamaido and Kumi, joined the YPS coalition to elevate young women’s voices and share the multifaceted challenges that young women encounter in conflict-ridden settings and a blueprint to build peace at the local and national levels. During the workshop, member organizations also reported the recruitment of an additional 85 young people, demonstrating their ability to further promote YPS in rural communities. Workshop participants showed increased knowledge in identifying and addressing barriers hindering young Ugandans’ meaningful participation in local and national peacebuilding, crisis response and conflict prevention initiatives. 

Youth-Led Peace Dialogues

Central to GNWP’s Localization of WPS resolutions strategy is the convening of key local stakeholders to discuss and assess local security measures from a gender perspective. In Localization workshops, diverse actors gather to analyze local conflicts and craft Local Action Plans (LAPs) that address these challenges in an inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. The Ugandan YPS coalition organized 6 youth-led intergenerational peacebuilding dialogues with a total of 347 participants, comprising youth council leaders, district youth representatives, civil servant representatives, opinion leaders, security personnel, religious leaders, political leaders and presidential representatives. Participants discussed and exchanged valuable insights on the YPS and WPS agendas. Young women and men peacebuilders led peer-to-peer engagements, built partnerships and amplified their roles in the implementation of existing WPS LAPs in the Kasese and Kyegegwa districts. 

Participants also underscored the synergies between the WPS and YPS agendas and urged authorities to employ gender-sensitive approaches in peace and security initiatives and processes. During the intergenerational dialogues, local authorities and key stakeholders committed to partnering with the coalition members to advance youth’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding. To ensure accountability, several YPS coalition members will regularly monitor the implementation of action plans and commitments in their districts. Participants also exchanged insights about the nexus between climate change, conflict, and peace and security, highlighting how climate change exacerbates the effects of conflicts and emergencies on young people and women. Demonstrating their commitment to environmental preservation and climate change mitigation, participants conducted community clean-ups and embarked on tree-planting initiatives in Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo districts. 

Mobilizing Public Support and Ownership of the YPS Agenda

Young women’s and men’s multifaceted roles are often misunderstood and misconstrued in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. Emphasizing youth peacebuilders as critical contributors and decision-makers in local and national conflict prevention and peace processes can counter the stereotypes that often label them as victims. Members from the Uganda YPS coalition actively participated in radio talk shows alongside local government officials to enlighten thousands of listeners about the crucial intersectionality of the WPS and YPS agendas. Listeners demonstrated a willingness to support the meaningful participation of youth in peace discussions that were previously reserved for older community members. GNWP’s financial and technical support to the YPS project amplified the narratives of coalition members and underscored the imperative of providing platforms for youth to continuously engage in conflict prevention efforts. Their stories championed the fostering of a culture in which young women and men are recognized as decision-makers and leaders, steering the course toward sustainable peace.

Anne Mugo

Anne Mugo

Associate for Africa Peacebuilding Programs

GNWP Reports from Kigali, Rwanda: Exchange of ideas, sisterhood and peer mentoring: A reflection on the Interprovincial Conference on the Economic Empowerment of Young Women in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

27 September 2023 by Simone Mbodé Diouf

"The Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) is a real opportunity to implement and develop ownership of the 1325 and 2250 agendas to improve young women’s participation in decision-making and economic empowerment."
Diavy
Member of the YWL in North Kivu

From 7 to 8 August 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (SFVS) and Youth for Peace DRC, and with the support of United Women in Faith, invited members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) network to Kigali, Rwanda. The YWL came from North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to attend an interprovincial conference on the economic empowerment of young women in the eastern part of the country. The conference advanced ongoing collaborative efforts between GNWP and the YWL networks over several years to promote women’s economic empowerment, economic justice, and access to and control of resources. The primary goal of the meeting was to foster interprovincial solidarity between the two YWL chapters, encourage collaboration and peer mentoring, and exchange ideas and best practices. The conference was also an opportunity for the YWL members to meet in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen joint advocacy promoting young women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

On the first day, GNWP Program Director Katrina Leclerc spoke about the original purpose and structure of the YWL network, its evolution in recent years, the different chapters around the world and activities in other countries.

This reminder helped participants understand that the foundational belief of the YWL initiative is that when young women’s leadership and peacebuilding potential is harnessed, they are a positive force for transforming communities and society. It is under this premise that the YWL networks aim to recognize and value the leadership of young women and gender equality allies, as well as help them acquire the skills to advance the synergistic implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) resolutions.

“Young Women Leaders for Peace is a very good network because it makes us more open-minded through peer-to-peer mentoring and exchanging our experiences with others.”
Monique Cirimwami
Member of the YWL in South Kivu

The YWL also reflected on and shared their vision of economic empowerment. They defined it as the process by which individuals, particularly young women, develop the skills, resources and access to opportunities necessary to make independent fiscal decisions, improve their financial well-being and increase their participation in the economy. A more in-depth discussion on young women’s role in the North and South Kivu economies, and the DRC economy more generally, led participants to conclude that women’s impacts are wide-ranging and positive. Notably, women have meaningful economic contributions through their participation in business and entrepreneurship, agriculture and even industry — as market traders, domestic workers and through the unpaid care work they provide.

Participants identified concrete strategies and actions to improve the socioeconomic situation of young women and ensure their financial and economic independence in both. The YWL concluded that training young women in literacy is crucial to advancing their meaningful participation and integration in economic life. Young women have the potential to contribute to the acceleration of economic growth in their regions and countries. However, they need access to resources and greater financial autonomy to do so.

The members of the YWL networks committed to continue the discussions begun in Kigali and maintain their efforts as community leaders and peacebuilders.

“I'm committed to sharing everything we've learned at this conference with other young women leaders in North Kivu, outside Goma, and following up on the advocacy actions we've carried out.”
Emilie Katondolo
Head of the YWL in North Kivu
“I pledge to be a woman leader in my community, my province and my country. I commit to popularizing actions that promote young women and entrepreneurship on social networks and in my social circles. I will fulfill my obligation and responsibility to raise women's awareness of economic empowerment and encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship.”
Esther Atosha
YWL Network Manager in South Kivu
Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone is the Program Officer for Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)