Month: May 2024

Month: May 2024

Simone Mbodé Diouf, GNWP Program Officer for Africa, briefs UN Security Council 28 May 2024

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) Program Officer for Africa, Ms. Simone Mbodé Diouf, recently appointed as the African Union Youth Ambassador for Peace for West Africa, was selected as the only civil society briefer to the UN Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) held on 28 May 2024.

 

Below are Simone’s remarks, delivered in French, to the Council:

Your Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique;

Madam, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs;

Madam, the Executive Director of UN Women;

Mr. Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs;

Your Excellencies and Distinguished guests;

First, allow me to express my gratitude to the Republic of Mozambique for not only placing this important issue on the agenda of the Security Council, but for also extending the invitation to us to showcase the leadership of young women peacebuilders who are actively involved in sustainable peace initiatives, and demonstrating the transformative impact of their collaboration. 

As the African Youth Ambassador for Peace representing the West Africa Region, I am living proof that international and regional institutions can choose to trust the expertise and leadership of young women by putting them on the global stage. In this regard, I particularly wish to express my gratitude to the African Union for its unwavering commitment to mainstream and upscale the meaningful participation of young people in all aspects of peace and security in accordance with Article 17 of the African Youth Charter.

Excellencies, 

To shed light on the incredible work that young women peacebuilders are engaged in every day on the African continent, allow me to share the inspiring story of four young Congolese women whom I have had the privilege to collaborate with in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These women have been instrumental in implementing and adapting the Youth, Peace and Security resolutions in their country, embodying the resilience and innovation characteristic of young women in this space.

First, Nora and Marie Rose. These two young women led the National Technical Secretariat on Resolution 2250, created by the DRC government to promote the implementation and institutionalization of UNSC Resolution 2250. Following their leadership and coordination, the DRC created its first National Action Plan (NAP) on Youth, Peace and Security in August 2022.

Next are Emilie and Esther, the coordinators of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) networks in North and South Kivu. Despite a challenging security context marked by war, they brought the YPS NAP to their communities by leading the Localization process. From data collection to drafting strategic documents to advocacy at the provincial level, Emilie and Esther ensured the NAP considered the gender-specific needs of young people.

The backgrounds and leadership of these four young women are highlighted in a thematic paper prepared by them, and published by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and UN Women on the occasion of the Secretary-General’s third report on the YPS agenda. That paper emphasizes the leadership of young Congolese women in implementing the YPS and Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agendas in synergy, drawing on lessons learned from their contributions to peace processes in the DRC.

Madam President,

Nora, Marie Rose, Emilie, and Esther are not alone. Many young women across Africa are dedicated to addressing the challenges that affect their future, such as climate change, resurgence of conflict, violent extremism, political marginalization, conflict-related sexual violence, and lack of economic opportunity. These young women are key to upholding peace and human security in their countries.

The YPS agenda explicitly recognizes the role of young women as equal partners in peace processes, mainly through Resolution 2535. This resolution acknowledges the unique and intersectional needs of different groups of young people, especially young women, in conflict, peacebuilding, and humanitarian response. It calls on Member States and other peace actors to promote synergies between YPS and WPS frameworks. Resolution 2535 also promotes accountability to the YPS agenda by encouraging the provision of adequate resources to support peace efforts led by diverse young women.

  • The African Union’s Continental Framework on YPS encourages sensitivity to gender dynamics by avoiding stereotypical assumptions about the roles and experiences of young men and women. It calls on Member States to recognize the gendered impacts of violence and develop strategies to address the needs of young women.
  • It is essential to highlight some programs and success stories that should serve as references and best practices to continue action in favor of young women:
  • The AU’s Youth Ambassadors for Peace program appoints five young people to work with, peacebuilding networks, Member States, regional economic communities (RECs), and young people to advocate for the involvement of young Africans in peace and security processes. In the second and third cohorts, 60 per cent of the representation is women. Currently, three young African women, including myself, are using their leadership and expertise to support young people in their region.
  • Femwise aims to strengthen the role of women and young women in conflict prevention and mediation efforts. 
  • The Youth Caucuses of African Women Leaders Networks (AWLN) chapters were established by the African Union to promote female leadership in all areas, including peace and security.
  • The Young Women’s Mentoring Initiative (YWMI) of the Permanent Mission of the African Union to the United Nations is an intergenerational mentoring program created to bridge the gender and generation gap that hinders young African women’s leadership in multilateral organizations.

Madam President,

Excellencies, 

Allow me also to evoke the story of Kristine from Kenya, who is currently conducting local YPS consultations in all counties as part of the development of the Kenyan YPS NAP, and Nanette, the national coordinator of the Chad YPS coalition. These young women, through their daily actions, embody the intersection of the YPS and WPS agendas, two distinct yet complementary frameworks that are the foundation for developing comprehensive and inclusive peace and security policies. Both frameworks acknowledge that conflict, war, and violence impact young people and women differently and that their contributions to peace, conflict prevention, and humanitarian response are often overlooked.

Promoting the synergies between YPS and WPS, and enhancing intergenerational cooperation is crucial to peacebuilding. Is it not the essence of intergenerational feminism to work together towards our common goals rather than uphold silos between YPS and WPS? 

The commitment of young women across the African continent is undeniable, but political leaders must play their part. Young women need to be economically and socially empowered to have the resources, capabilities, and confidence to be agents of change. In my experience working with young people, especially young women, for several years, I have learned that when you invest in young women, they give back to the community, starting a virtuous, rather than vicious, circle.

Economic empowerment is necessary but not sufficient. It is also essential to recognize the potential of young women as political actors, as seen in the example of Sibila Ouédraogo, the youngest candidate in Burkina Faso’s recent legislative elections. Boosting dynamism as an opportunity for peace and sustainable development can help remove the obstacles to young women’s participation.

Dear Members of the United Nations Security Council and representatives of Member States,

Recognizing the importance of empowering young women requires more than just words. It involves gaining their trust, allowing them to participate in public forums, and reinstating their confidence in multilateralism. The YPS and WPS agendas serve as frameworks to illustrate how young women’s involvement can be effectively enhanced. However, little progress can be made without genuine political determination.

During the Summit for the Future in September, all Member States will have the chance to showcase their dedication to young people by incorporating robust commitments and concrete actions supporting the YPS agenda in the Pact for the Future. This is particularly urgent as, in the latest version of the Pact, all YPS and WPS languages have been removed. I urge Member States to reverse this change. The YPS agenda must continue to be a priority for the Security Council under the guidance of the United Nations Youth Office, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), whose leadership and coordination, particularly in addressing inclusion and protection issues, I commend.

This leads me to my final point: protecting young women peacebuilders. Even if some young women bravely speak out despite threats, fear silences many others. Combating hate speech and gender-based violence facilitated by technology is essential to creating safe civic, offline, and online spaces.

Allow me to conclude with the following call for action. I urge all UN Member States, duty-bearers, and stakeholders to consider the following:

  • Implement, fund, and institutionalize the YPS and WPS agendas as requested by 400 young people in the Cotonou Youth Action Agenda. This should include developing specific frameworks at local, regional, and national levels and integrating them into existing policy instruments to ensure the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes;
  • Ensure that the specific needs of young women are considered when developing WPS NAP;
  • Include promotion of the YPS and WPS agendas in the Pact for the Future;
  • Highlight best practices and lessons learned from young women peacebuilders working for sustainable peace;
  • Maximize young women’s contributions to peace by integrating agendas among national governments, the African Union, the UN, and civil society. This can be achieved by examining policy opportunities that prioritize young women’s leadership;
  • Promote synergies between YPS and WPS agendas by showcasing successful practices and lessons learned from young women peacebuilders; and
  • Encourage collaboration and dialogue between young women and other stakeholders to bridge generational and gender gaps.

Thank you for your kind attention.

CSO Working Group on YPS meets with new Assistant Secretary-General on Youth Affairs ahead of Security Council Debate

On 17 May 2024, members of the Civil Society Working Group on Youth, Peace and Security (CSO WG on YPS) met with the new Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Youth Affairs, Dr. Felipe Paullier, ahead of the UN Security Council Debate on young women convened by Mozambique. The Debate is scheduled for 28 May 2024.

Established in 2021, the CSO WG on YPS, encompasses over 200 youth-led and youth-serving civil society networks and organizations committed to actualizing the “Partnerships” pillar of UN Security Council Resolution 2250.

ASG Paullier outlined three key priority areas for his newly established UN Youth Office:

  1. Enhancing collaboration and coordination on YPS, especially with Member States and within the UN system;
  2. Strengthening advocacy for YPS within the UN and its inter-governmental bodies, based on the principles of inclusion and ensuring the protection of youth peacebuilders; and
  3. Promoting and involving young people in strategic and impactful YPS initiatives, including youth-inclusive peace processes.
 Ahead of the Debate, as ASG Paullier prepares his briefing to the Security Council, members of the Working Group shared priorities including increasing political will for the participation of youth as decision-makers and decolonizing funding mechanisms for YPS.
 
The Working Group clearly conveyed its collective agreement that advocacy led by the UN Youth Office is critical in driving the YPS agenda through the UN system, including actualizing the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 2535. UN agencies must focus on institutionalizing the three YPS resolutions within the UN system itself. Places where young people express themselves and conduct their advocacy are too often on the margins of the UN system – the streamlining of the YPS resolutions within the UN is the only way the UN will ensure meaningful dialogue with youth peacebuilders.

“If young people do not trust the system, then we are in hot water. The whole UN system is based on trust. If we do not create change within the system, we risk not being effective for the meaningful inclusion of young people.” – Dr. Felipe Paullier, Assistant Secretary-General on Youth Affairs

For more information, contact the CSO WG on YPS co-chairs:

Eliška Jelínková, Co-Director
United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)
[email protected]

Katrina Leclerc, Program Director
Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)
[email protected]