Agnieszka Fal Posts

Author: Agnieszka Fal

Take urgent action to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls and restore peace

23 August 2021

The Global Women Network of Peacebuilders (GNWP) urges a nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan and an immediate cessation of violence. As the country faces an escalating human rights crisis and humanitarian catastrophe, we call on all parties to ensure respect for women’s human rights and protect women and youth peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists, and activists facing threats and violence.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban seized power, including control of major cities in Afghanistan, just two weeks ahead of the complete withdrawal of American and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops. The subsequent deterioration of security, an ongoing drought, and the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have left 18 million people in need of humanitarian aid, over 300,000 people displaced, and hundreds of desperate asylum-seekers. In the Taliban-controlled areas, Afghan women are denied access to education, healthcare, protection, and freedom of movement. They are also being subjected to sexual slavery and forced to marry Taliban fighters. Additionally, the Taliban targets women and youth activists, peacebuilders, human rights defenders, and journalists who have risked their lives to advocate for peace, gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights.

Perpetuating oppressive gender roles is central to the Taliban’s governance vision. Therefore, the Taliban’s return to power has begun to derail gains in gender equality and the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Despite their marginalization from the failed Intra-Afghan Peace Process, women have played a pivotal role in building sustainable peace in Afghanistan. The rights of Afghan women, youth, and other historically marginalized groups must be protected and preserved.  Their leadership must be recognized, amplified, and supported in any peacebuilding or humanitarian response to the crisis. GNWP calls on the Taliban to adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and women’s rights.

GNWP stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, especially grassroots women and youth peacebuilders. We echo their calls for:

  1. Immediate action to protect women and women’s rights through:
    • An immediate cessation of all hostilities, nationwide ceasefire, and adherence with international humanitarian law;
    • Immediate support for the evacuation of Afghans who are at heightened risk of persecution by the Taliban, particularly women and youth human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, through the provision of emergency visas and transportation; and the cessation of deportations of asylum seekers; and
    • Protection of the rights of women, youth, LBGTQIA+ persons, and all other historically marginalized groups, particularly human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, including through the provision of safe houses and relief and recovery services for survivors of gender-based violence and uninhibited access to education and healthcare.
  2. Gender-responsive humanitarian action through:
    • Immediate, safe, and unfettered access for humanitarian actors aiding across conflict lines through the establishment of humanitarian corridors; and
    • A significant increase in funds for the Humanitarian Appeal for Afghanistan and flexible, direct, and rapid funding to frontline local civil society organizations responding to the urgent needs of women and other historically marginalized groups impacted by armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing drought.
  3. Establishment of an inclusive national reconciliation process through:
    • The establishment of an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation for an inclusive, just, durable, realistic, and sustainable political settlement that ensures the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women, young people, and all other historically marginalized groups;
    • Gender-responsive investigative processes, including those to be established by the United Nations Human Rights Council, to document and prosecute all war crimes and crimes against humanity; and
    • A renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and strengthening UN’s presence with a robust mandate and adequate technical and financial capacities to protect the rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups in Afghanistan.

Sustainable peace in Afghanistan will only be possible if it is achieved through an inclusive, locally owned, participatory, and bottom-up approach that addresses the root causes of conflict. It must ensure access to inclusive and quality education, adequate health care systems, a vibrant civil society, religious freedom, and gender equality. GNWP urges the United Nations Security Council and the broader international community to take all necessary action to restore security and civil and constitutional order in Afghanistan, including by re-initiating talks for national reconciliation, meeting urgent humanitarian needs and protecting civil society activists.

Calling civil society members for the Global Board of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

Calling civil society members for the Global Board of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

Nominations can now be made for new civil society members of the Global Board of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund for the years 2019 – 2020.

The WPHF’s primary goal is to bring about peaceful and gender-equal societies.


The specific objectives of WPHF are:

– Support women’s participation in decision-making processes and responses related to conflict prevention;

– Increase women’s engagement and leadership in humanitarian action;

– Enhance women’s representation and leadership in formal and informal peace negotiations;

– Promote women and girls’ human rights; and

– Promote women’s involvement in economic recovery of their communities.


WPHF’s Reach and Accomplishments:

At country level, projects on conflict prevention and women’s economic empowerment were implemented in Burundi. The funds from WPHF enabled Burundian women to lead effective early warning and conflict prevention; and engage in formal and informal peace negotiations.

In Colombia, the WPHF supports indigenous and Afro-Colombian women in their efforts to participate in the implementation of the peace agreement. The WPHF was rolled out in three other countries, Iraq and Jordan (with a specific focus to the situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan), and the Solomon Islands. During the 18th Anniversary of 1325, there were new commitments from Member States like Austria, Australia, Norway, and the UK so potentially, the WPHF will expand to other countries in 2019 and increase support to current priority countries.


Responsibilities of Civil Society Members of the WPHF Board:

The primary responsibility of a civl society member of the WPHF Global Board is to contribute to decision-making on priority countries and general policies and direction of the fund.

This is achieved through:

– Participation in expert level and principal level meetings of the WPHF Global Funding Board (The principal level meetings are held once a year and the expert level meetings are held quarterly – on the average; the participation can be in-person or digital, via teleconference);

– Presentation of the views of her/his network/organization regarding funding for WPS and humanitarian work during meetings; – Dissemination of information regarding calls for proposals by the WPHF;

– Generation of support for the WPHF from donors, Member States, and other stakeholders for them to contribute to the Fund;

– Contribution to the visibility of WPHF through presentation in meetings, conferences, and other events as well as social media; and

– Consultation with other CSOs to improve the work of the WPHF.



To nominate or self-nominate, a CSO to the WPHF Board, please write to with the following information:

– Name of the organization being nominated and its representatives at the expert level and the principal level and their contact information

– Track record on advocacy and implementation of the WPS resolutions and/or in humanitarian work particularly from a gender perspective;

– Track record in grant making and/or advocacy for funding for the implementation of WPS resolutions and/or gender perspective in humanitarian work;

– Explanation of why the organization want to be a civil society representative of the WPHF Board; and

– Explanation how the organization will represent and consult other civil society organizations.


The deadline for the submission of nominations is January 16, 2019.

We warmly welcome you to apply! More information is also available at:

Leadership from the ground up – Executive Summary of the Report on Women Civil Society’s Perspectives on Sustaining Peace

Leadership from the ground up – Women Civil Society’s Perspectives on Sustaining Peace

Download the executive summary here.

For any questions about GNWP’s work on Sustaining Peace, please contact

Executive Summary

Following the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture in 2015, in 2016, the UN General Assembly and Security Council adopted twin resolutions (UNSC Resolution 2282 and General Assembly Resolution 70.262), emphasizing the importance of a broad approach to peacebuilding, encompassing all stages of peace, not only the immediate post-conflict reconstruction. The Sustaining Peace agenda, which has since been elaborated on by the Secretary General[1], recognizes that efforts to sustain peace are “necessary not only once conflict had broken out but also long beforehand, through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes”, and that multi-sectoral, locally-driven and owned approach is needed to ensure effective peacebuilding and conflict prevention.[2]

The agenda brings with it a great promise of a transformation of the approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Yet, in order to fulfil this promise, it has to be effectively implemented and translated into practical and necessary actions on the ground. This cannot happen without the full and meaningful inclusion of women’s civil society at all stages of the agenda’s development. To understand how women civil society understands Sustaining Peace, and how they are already operationalizing it, GNWP, with support from UN Women, has coordinated a global research, which comprised of Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in 15 countries, as well as a multi-lingual survey, which received responses from 43 countries. In total, over 1,500 people participated in the research.

The key findings of the study point to the following:

  • To women peace activists, peace is more than an absence of war – it is access to resources, education and employment; presence of strong institutions; and a culture of peace, understood as mutual respect, harmony and inclusion. Consequently, sustaining peace interventions need to focus on long-term, transformative approaches that address these issues.


  • There has been significant progress in the inclusion of women in both formal and informal peace processes, but much remains to be done. However, 13% of respondents still said women are not included at all in peace process; and 30% said they are not included at all in the implementation of peace agreements. Moreover, there is still a need to ensure that the inclusion extends to all women – including young, differently abled, and indigenous women and other marginalized groups.


  • Women’s civil society is already working to sustain peace. There are numerous examples of initiatives by women’s civil society, ranging from educating the youth; promoting and facilitating dialogue and mediation at the local level; organizing neighborhood watch to prevent electoral violence; providing skills training and income-generation activities for women; to supporting the victims of violence and conflict, for example through providing psychosocial support, or shelters for victims of violence.


  • Donor community support is appreciated, but needs to be more locally-driven. While the donor community’s efforts to support gender-sensitive peacebuilding initiatives are appreciated, there is a need for stronger local leadership in shaping international agendas and donor priorities. 20% of survey respondents reported that the local civil society was not able to influence the design of donor programs at all, and 17 per cent reported they could do so only to a limited extent.



1) Recognizing that peace is more than the absence of war, the UN, Member States and civil society should ensure that Sustaining Peace initiatives focus on long-term goals, such as strengthening state institutions; fostering a culture of peace and non-violent conflict resolution; and promoting access to social services, including health and education; and provision of employment opportunities. This requires strengthening the nexus between the peace and security efforts, including in particular the WPS agenda, development and humanitarian action.


2) The UN and Member States should put pressure on governments to include women in formal peace negotiations, crafting and implementation of peace agreements and political transitions, and ensure that this inclusion is meaningful, and extends to women from different backgrounds, and women’s civil society.


3) The UN and Member States should stop the support to and use of violence and military interventions. Member States should also ensure that they do not contribute to illicit trafficking in arms and instead support non-violent, civil-society led initiatives in conflict resolution and prevention.


4) The UN and civil society should monitor and hold governments accountable for the inclusive implementation of peace agreements as well as other laws and policies related to gender equality and peace and security, including the WPS Resolutions and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


5) The UN and Member States should create institutionalized but flexible platforms for civil society women, especially local women, to participate in formal and informal peace negotiations.


6) The UN and Member States should ensure that women, especially young, disabled and indigenous women and other marginalized groups, are fully included at all stages of the implementation of peace agreements, peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace initiatives, that their voices are heard and their contributions recognized and supported. Civil society should continuously monitor and hold the UN and Member States to account on this matter.


7) Civil society from countries that have not experienced armed conflict in the recent history should organize experience-sharing exchanges with local and grassroots civil society in conflict-affected and post-conflict countries, to exchange experiences, enhance solidarity and build capacity for Sustaining Peace.


8) The UN, Member States and donor community should support women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of the peace agreement after it is signed. It is equally if not more important to ensure that they co-lead the implementation of peace agreements. Socio-cultural and institutional barriers to their participation (including gender norms, lack of resources and lack of clear mechanisms for implementation, such as specific objectives, action plans, or roadmaps) must be addressed.


9) The donor community should increase funding for peacebuilding, conflict prevention and Sustaining Peace, especially those led by women’s civil society, and make sure this funding is long-term and predictable. Such funding should also be made flexible and accessible to local organizations; and be available at all stages of Sustaining Peace – before, during and after conflict.


[1] Report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding and sustaining peace. S/2018/43, 18 January 2018.

[2] Ibid. Paragraph 3 and 13


A diverse and independent media is a requisite for sustainable peace – journalists in DRC discuss their role in promoting women’s leadership, peace and security

A diverse and independent media is a requisite for sustainable peace – journalists in DRC discuss their role in promoting women’s leadership, peace and security

October 5, 2018 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos*

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

“Our role, as journalists, is to promote the rights of the people, especially women; to teach the population about their rights; and elevate their voices and their concerns, so that they are heard by authorities.” – this is how the participants of a consultation workshop on media and Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, described their responsibility towards the society. In a country, which has been ravaged by war and insecurity since 1996, despite numerous attempts at peace negotiations and the presence of the UN peacekeeping force, and in which the socio-political and security situation remains unstable and unpredictable, the role of the press is all the more important.

The armed conflict in DRC has claimed millions of lives, and led to the displacement of countless people. The war has also been waged on women’s bodies, with rape frequently used as a weapon of war. Today, DRC continues to experience armed clashes, especially in the east of the country, as well as – more recently – in the Kasai region. The violence is fueled by chaos and weak governance, which have created a fertile ground for the emergence of various armed rebel groups. Gender inequality and the failure to recognize and support women’s leadership is an important factor fueling the conflict. As the long-awaited elections scheduled for 23 December 2018 approach, it is now more important than ever to elevate the voices of women, and promote the images of women as not only victims, but also agents of peace.

The media are the first and main actors who have the power to change the perception of the society, and shape the agenda and priorities of the country. Yet, the dominant women’s images in the Congolese media are still those of victims. GNWP and its partner, Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), with support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of the Global Affairs Canada, organized a consultation on media and WPS on October 4, 2018 in Kinshasa. Journalists from radio, television, print and online media participated in the consultation workshop which enabled them to increase their awareness about the WPS agenda and their role in implementing it. They also formulated a set of concrete recommendations to strengthen media’s role in the achievement of sustainable peace.

The media in DRC faces many challenges. The media outlets are viewed as often politicized and – as the participants admitted – it is a common practice to have to pay a fee in order to have certain stories on the front page of a newspaper, or be broadcast during prime time. Women often do not have the resources, or the connections to be able to ensure such coverage. In this context, the role of journalists is key. They need to work twice as hard to make sure that the stories about women, presenting them as leaders and agents of change – are given the coverage and attention that they deserve. There are already some positive examples. The textual gender analysis conducted by the consultation participants found articles representing women as leaders, activists and entrepreneurs. But these are still too few and far between.

The consultation is the first initiative in DRC that focuses on working with the media to effectively implement the WPS resolutions including the promotion of women’s participation in the upcoming elections. The participants appreciated the information about UNSCR 1325 and the supporting WPS resolutions, and engaged in lively discussions about them. They also identified concrete actions and steps they can take to ensure better coverage of WPS issues and women’s leadership more broadly. These included actions that could be taken immediately such as:  raising awareness among their editors and colleagues; creating a WhatsApp group to facilitate communication on WPS-related events and topics; organizing weekly radio talk shows on WPS, featuring women peacebuilders; and producing articles and interviews with more women candidates ahead of the December elections. Others, such as creation of a network of journalists covering UNSCR 1325 and including more women in leadership positions in the media, will require more time and resources. Based on the participants’ recommendations, CAFCO and GNWP will develop a media strategy and share it with the Ministry of Communication and the Media.

GNWP has also facilitated similar media and WPS workshops in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine with support from the Austrian Development Agency. The workshops successfully established an increased awareness and appreciation of the WPS agenda, and the media’s role in promoting and stimulating debates on the issue. In Ukraine, following the workshop, the State Radio and Television Broadcasting Commission launched a “media and WPS prize.” The competition proved to be a good motivation for the media to produce reports and stories on the subject. The best articles on WPS were recognized during an award ceremony in June 2018. GNWP and CAFCO hope to work with the Ministry of Media and Communication in DRC to organize a similar competition.

“No country has ever achieved a true, lasting and inclusive peace without a strong and independent media” – this is the message with which Mavic Cabrera Balleza, the CEO of GNWP, left the participants of the media consultation in DRC. As they return to their desks and recording studios, they are taking back with them new information, as well as inspiration to fulfil their responsibility towards the society. We look forward to seeing the results of their commitment!


Photos from event:


*Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos is a Program Coordinator and Policy Specialist at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

“Power to the people” – Congolese stakeholders discuss the impacts and challenges of Localizing UNSCR 1325 in their communities ahead of the national elections

“Power to the people” – Congolese stakeholders discuss the impacts and challenges of Localizing UNSCR 1325 in their communities ahead of the national elections

October 4, 2018 by Dinah Lakehal*

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

In the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the number of women appointed as provincial ministers increased from 0 in 2013 to 3 in 2018. In the same province, governor Marcellin Cishambo created a committee solely for the organization, function, and implementation of UNSCR 1325. In Katanga, traditional chiefs have begun to regularly include UNSCR 1325 in their work, as well as increasingly include women in their local security council. At the national level, fifty women were trained specifically to increase their participation in politics. These are just some of the impacts that Localization of UNSCR 1325 facilitated by GNWP between 2013 and 2015 had on the lives of Congolese women. Supporting local women as leaders and active agents of peace is all the more important in DRC, where women regularly face physical, sexual, economic, social, cultural, and political marginalization; and where regional peace and security challenges are felt by local communities from North to South Kivu.

DRC has adopted its second generation National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on September 8th, 2018. However, the institutional and cultural resistance to its effective implementation persists on many levels throughout the country. This is compounded by the social and political developments happening, such as the recent decentralization structure, and the upcoming and highly anticipated presidential elections. All these elements make this a critical time for GNWP to evaluate and reinforce the implementation of WPS resolutions in DRC.

On October 1-3, 2018, GNWP, in partnership with the Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), and with support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of the Global Affairs Canada, organized a workshop to evaluate the progress and impact of the Localization program to date, and to identify remaining gaps and recommendations for the future. The workshop brought together grassroots women activists, local and national authorities, and traditional leaders, who took part in the Localization program in South Kivu and Katanga in 2013, as well as representatives from North Kivu and Province Orientale, who plan to implement the strategy in their communities. Among the participants were several women who are campaigning for national and provincial parliamentary elections scheduled for December, and whose insights and perspectives were invaluable.

The participants asked themselves, “what were the most significant changes, both positive and negative, following the Localization programme in 2013? What were the successes and gaps in each province?” The exercise resulted in lively and engaging discussions over the evidence of the impacts. In South Kivu, the strategy contributed directly to raising awareness and taking ownership of UNSCR 1325 by authorities at the local and provincial level, and a Steering Committee for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 was established by the provincial government. In Katanga, Localization increased the ownership of UNSCR 1325 by local authorities and traditional leaders, who have begun regularly including UNSCR 1325 in their work, appointing women in leadership positions, and in their local security council. At the national level, the commitments made during the Localization workshop in 2013 contributed directly to the successful advocacy for the inclusion of marginalized groups, such as youth and women with disabilities, as groups of concern in the most recent National Action Plan. In addition, a local civil society organization, CONAFED, undertook a program to train 50 young women for political participation. Another significant contribution was the nomination of the first women generals in the national police and army.

The participants also discussed the remaining challenges such as the failure to implement some of the laws and policies due to a lack of budget. To counter that, the participants worked in groups disaggregated by province to produce a set of concrete recommendations, which will be shared with local and national stakeholders. The delegations from North Kivu and Kinshasa also planned to implement Localization and develop local action plans within their provinces.

“Decentralization and Localization go hand in hand; they are both about giving more power to the people,” –this message, highlighted by Professor Mukendi Munti from the Ministry of Decentralization, resonates particularly strongly in the Congolese context. The evaluation workshop has generated invaluable insights and reinforced the commitment to continue the implementation of the WPS agenda at the local level, and GNWP will continue to support the local stakeholders, and work with participants to ensure that their concrete commitments will be materialized into actions.


*Dinah Lakehal is a Program Officer at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).