Month: January 2024

Month: January 2024

GNWP Reports from Yemen: Launching the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Four Provinces

26 January 2024 by Johnny Assaf and Sana’a Albanawi

Edited by Katrina Leclerc

“There is a dire need for mechanisms to involve women from South Yemen in the next stages of the country’s peace negotiations.”

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Peace Track Initiative (PTI) and To Be Foundation (TBF), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in Yemen. From 2-21 December 2023, with support from the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), GNWP, PTI and TBF led a marathon of Localization workshops for the first time across four provinces — Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa. 

Since 2014, Yemen has been grappling with the impact of what became known as the “largest humanitarian crisis in history,” caused by a brutal 10-year civil war. Peaceful protestors took to the streets in 2011 as part of the wave of the Arab Spring, demanding an end to the rampant political corruption, poverty, unemployment and economic woes that took away many aspects of normal life in Yemen. However, after a decade of conflict, with consistent climate shocks and large-scale displacements by rebel forces, 377,000 civilians have died, and Yemeni women have been left with severe consequences on their health, safety and security. About 75 per cent of the 4.5 million people displaced in Yemen are women and children, an estimated 12.6 million women are in need of life-saving reproductive health and protection services, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported a 50 per cent increase in physical assault cases and a 35 per cent in cases of sexual abuse.

The transition from a state of war to that of peace requires working across all levels of governance and a whole-of-society approach in the recovery and reconstruction process. Despite a significant number of Yemeni women who have contributed greatly to advancing matters of security and peace, women in Yemen continue to face exclusion from political participation, relief and recovery, and in overall peacebuilding efforts across the country.

Yemen adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS in 2019. However, Yemeni women’s civil society and community leaders lament the exclusionary nature of the drafting process. Women activists from across Yemen claim that their priorities and needs are not reflected. This reality reinforces the necessity of local ownership and contextualization of the NAP to advance the effective implementation of the WPS resolutions in addressing local needs and priorities across Yemen.

Faced with the threat of the complete collapse of the national socioeconomic structures and the unique challenges encountered by Yemeni women, the implementation of the WPS resolutions is crucial to ensuring peaceful and inclusive communities across the country. It is in this context that GNWP, PTI, TBF launched the Localization of WPS resolutions strategy in Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa, with the support of S/GWI. The initial workshops made way for rich discussions on gender and conflict dynamics in the provinces and welcomed honest questions as well as brainstorming of sustainable solutions to ensure women are recognized for their leadership within communities.

While considering the relevance of the Yemeni NAP on WPS in their provinces, participants emphasized the absence of provisions addressing the multitude of insecurities faced by Yemenis, including those who live with disabilities. The workshops served as an opportunity for local authorities, traditional and religious leaders, and civil society representatives to increase their knowledge of the WPS resolutions, highlighting the severe need for Local Action Plans on WPS. 

“The NAP on WPS in Yemen fails to address issues in our local communities, and these local communities do not benefit from the existence of the current NAP.”

Participants were also given the opportunity to craft strategic roadmaps and make concrete commitments to address identified challenges related to gender inequality and insecurity. 

For example, the lack of judicial transparency and inaccessibility of the educational system were considered among the most important challenges in the Abyan province. In Shawba, a significant need for better social cohesion and substantive inclusion of women’s voices in decision-making was identified as a priority. 

In Hadramout, customs, traditions and religious extremism were key hindrances to the achievement of gender equality. These are also causes limiting women from benefiting from quality education, partaking in decision-making processes and accessing legal or legislative protections. The Governor of Hadramout proclaimed his commitment to the Localization of WPS process by announcing that his administration will appoint a woman officer to the Executive Office and prioritize discussions on women’s empowerment and the WPS resolutions within forthcoming council meetings. 

GNWP is grateful to the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) for their support in expanding the Localization of WPS strategy to Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa. 

Note: The anonymity of the participants has been maintained for their safety.

Picture of Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs

Picture of Sana’a Albanawi

Sana’a Albanawi

Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa

GNWP Reports from Papua New Guinea: Localizing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Highlands Region

26 January 2024 by Bianca Pabotoy

Edited by Shawna Crystal and Jasmin Nario-Galace

From 25-29 September 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Voice for Change (VFC), and with the support of the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (PNG). This milestone training convened 120 stakeholders from across the region’s seven provinces of Enga, Hela, Jiwaka, Simbu, and the Eastern, Southern and Western Highlands.

Throughout the region, women and girls face significant threats to their safety, security and human rights. Deeply rooted patriarchal norms and practices deny women full citizenship, hinder their participation in decision-making spaces, devalue their contributions to peace and security, and engender violence against them. One of the most notable and concerning manifestations of these biases is the prevalence of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV). In the Highlands, perpetrators of SARV act with impunity, subjecting women to extreme and brutal forms of violence, including abduction, public mob trials, detention as well as prolonged, and often fatal, sexual torture. Exacerbated by ongoing tribal conflicts, election-related violence and insufficient government response mechanisms, these dynamics contribute to a challenging environment for women’s rights and meaningful inclusion.

It is in this context that GNWP and VFC organized the country’s first Localization of WPS workshop to build on the momentum of women’s rights organizations from across civil society in advocating for more gender-sensitive conflict response. The four-day workshop mobilized diverse actors contributing to peace and security processes, including local women’s civil society organizations, women human rights defenders, religious and tribal leaders, peace committee members, police and security forces, as well as local government officials from Enga, Hela, Jiwaka, Simbu, and the Southern and Western Highlands. 

The security risks associated with active tribal disputes often prevent open spaces for dialogue. As such, this workshop provided a rare opportunity for key stakeholders to gather and an essential forum for local women to directly engage with officials and participate in decision-making conversations on peace and security in their local communities. GNWP and VFC leveraged this platform to raise awareness of the successes, challenges and opportunities for women’s participation in building and sustaining peace, including conflict mediation and peace negotiation. Participants learned about the WPS agenda and engaged in discussions on key local security issues — such as tribal conflict, SARV and gender-based violence — and how WPS can provide a framework for effective response.

Additionally, GNWP and VFC hosted an intensive, full-day session with local security representatives, including the provincial police commander, the provincial peace committee coordinator and the provincial coordinator of the village court systems. The session offered an in-depth introduction to the WPS agenda and the gendered impacts of conflict in the context of prevention and protection. This targeted engagement will facilitate enhanced security responses that incorporate gender considerations and ensure broader political support to the Localization process. 

Following the workshops, GNWP and VFC initiated the formation of the Highlands Women, Peace and Security Localization Steering Committee. Its mandate is to develop, advocate for and monitor the adoption and implementation of Local Action Plans or other local laws and policies integrating gender-responsiveness. Comprised of elected district representatives from each province, the steering committee will contribute to amplifying the WPS resolutions, fostering long-term, cross-provincial partnerships and generating support from local authorities throughout the region. 

Thus far, members of the Highlands WPS Localization Steering Committee have conducted 68 follow-up meetings and consultations across 7 council wards in Jiwaka and the Western Highlands and are already yielding results. Thanks to the leadership of the committee, a local area in the Western Highlands has developed community bylaws adopting the WPS resolutions. In Jiwaka, the mobilization and advocacy for women’s participation has led to the commitment from one community to nominate three women for the local government elections in 2024. As part of its ambitions to sustain these early successes, the steering committee hopes to increase engagement from tribal leaders and ward councilors in upcoming initiatives.  

Despite the barriers, the Localization of WPS in the Highlands has demonstrated the resilience and drive of women peacebuilders in PNG and the dedication of local communities to disrupting cycles of conflict and creating a more peaceful, safe and inclusive society. Lilly Be’Soer, the Executive Director and Founder of Voice for Change, emphasized: 

“We have to speak up and stand against the injustice, even if our voice is the only one around us. When it comes to the impact of conflict on civilians, the damage is huge, and we have to come together to address such challenges.”

GNWP’s engagement in Papua New Guinea is under its project, “From Global to Local: Localizing the WPS Agenda to Sustain Peace and Empower Women,” as part of the Support Her Empowerment – Women’s Inclusion in New Security (SHE WINS) initiative. GNWP thanks the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) for its support.

Picture of Bianca Pabotoy

Bianca Pabotoy

Senior Program Officer for Asia and the Pacific