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GNWP Reports from Nigeria: Bringing Women, Peace and Security to Local Communities through Young Women’s Leadership 

2 April 2023 by Anne Mugo*

During the national commemoration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024 in Abuja, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Nigeria) and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD), launched the Guidelines for the Localization of Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and supporting resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Developed by GNWP and WANEP-Nigeria, and with support from Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP), the Guidelines are a step-by-step tool for Nigerian state and local governments, civil society organizations and other peace actors to adopt GNWP’s Localization of WPS[1] strategy to effectively implement UNSCR 1325 and other peace and security resolutions in the country.

Emphasizing the need for women at the grassroots to take an active role in advancing gender equality and development in Nigeria, the Minister for Gender and Women’s Affairs, Honourable Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, officially presented the Guidelines to attendees alongside the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Mohammed Mallick Fall, and WANEP-Nigeria’s National Network Coordinator, Ms. Bridget Osakwe. Thus far, 16 Nigerian states — including Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau and Rivers — have adopted State Action Plans to institutionalize the Nigerian WPS NAP. In addition, more than 15 Local Government Areas (LGAs) have adopted Local Action Plans (LAPs).

“In line with the Hon. Minister’s call to action, Localization is about taking this message to the grassroots to create Local Action Plans and for you leaders of women groups in the grassroots to steer the process. These guidelines will help you develop action plans for and with women at any level. They will help you develop action plans that place women at the heart of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Nigeria.”

The Localization strategy has enabled Nigerian local authorities and leaders, including governors, paramount chiefs, traditional councils, security personnel, teachers, marginalized groups and religious leaders, to jointly analyze the peace and security situation in their local areas and identify concrete actions needed to build gender-equal and sustainable peace, all while placing local Nigerian women and youth leaders at the forefront. In Bauchi and Gombe states, local steering committees were established to guide the implementation of LAPs. GNWP and WANEP-Nigeria, with PSOP support, also convened a two-day Localization workshop for the national chapter of GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) network to ensure continuity and build the capacities of young women peacebuilders to advance the country’s WPS and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) NAPs. Representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs joined the workshop and applauded ongoing peacebuilding efforts from the YWL and partners. Twenty-three diverse young women peacebuilders from urban and rural areas, including young women with disabilities, participated in the in-person training on human-centered peacebuilding approaches, gender-responsive conflict analysis, gender-inclusive governance and the full-cycle implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas, with more than 50 joining virtually.

Over the past few years, cases of gender-based violence, land disputes, inter-communal violence, farmer-herder conflicts and violent extremism have imperiled the safety and livelihoods of the Nigerian people, particularly women and youth. In Borno and Kaduna states, banditry and mass abductions have especially become the norm, with more than 300 feared missing in recent weeks, most of them school-going girls and boys. The spiraling security crisis is indicative of increasing threats from armed groups and insurgents in Nigeria’s northeast and northwest regions. During the workshop, the YWL analyzed these emerging threats and devised ways they could contribute to peace and Localization in their communities. In a knowledge-sharing session, participants listened to encouraging outcomes from experienced intergenerational peacebuilders who have participated in successful GNWP- and WANEP-enabled Localization processes. For instance, in Delta, women who were trained and engaged in the Localization process eventually formed the United Women Peacebuilders Network (UWPN), which responds to various human security issues in the state. In Gombe, four local governments have adopted LAPs and established two steering committees to monitor and direct their implementation. In Balanga, the local government facilitated a dialogue between two warring parties upon the steering committee’s recommendation.

Despite persistent barriers, the young women peacebuilders expressed renewed interest in expanding the Localization of WPS in synergy with YPS to more local areas. They made individual commitments to which they would be accountable, including producing Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials in local dialects to popularize UNSCR 1325, engaging young women and men with disabilities and other minorities on the NAP and working with existing government structures to hold community-level engagements on R1325 and R2250 among others. GNWP and WANEP pledged their continued dedication to supporting and amplifying the young women-led peace and conflict-prevention efforts.

GNWP is grateful to Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP) for its ongoing support of gender- and age-sensitive peacebuilding programs in Nigeria.

[1] GNWP and WANEP-Nigeria led the Localization in Bauchi; Katagum and Toro and Gombe: Kaltungo and Yamaltu—Deba, Balanga, and Kwami LGAs. Other areas include Borono; Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Delta: Ughelii South, Ukwuami and Oshimili South, Kano; Faggae and Plateau; Jos North, Mangu, Riyom and Wase.
Anne Mugo

Anne Mugo

Anne is an Associate for Africa’s Peacebuilding Programs at GNWP. In this role, she supports the team in the continent’s advocacy, research, communication and programmatic work. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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.

Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs

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.

Bianca Pabotoy

Bianca Pabotoy

Senior Program Officer for Asia and the Pacific

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 Istanbul, Türkiye: “Women’s Networks WIN Together” Regional Conference on Networks across Women Peacebuilders and Mediators in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia

24 August 2023 by Natia Kostava* and Sophia Farion**

“Nothing survives without action. We need to be strategic, creative, innovative, resourceful and think outside the box to revitalize and sustain networks.” – Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

On 26 and 27 June 2023, women peacebuilders and mediators from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan convened in Istanbul, Türkiye, to exchange best practices and lessons learned. These women were gathered for the “Women’s Networks WIN Together” regional conference with the goal of revitalizing women’s networks on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and gender equality in their respective regions. The convening further offered one of the first opportunities since COVID-19 for local women peacebuilders and mediators to share updates on the status of National Action Plans (NAPs) on WPS in their countries. This intergenerational conference was organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) “WIN – Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” (WIN) project. 

The ongoing war in Ukraine has brought to the fore local and regional dimensions of unresolved conflicts and crises in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. For example, a refugee crisis across Eastern Europe, clashes over disputed territories in the South Caucasus and inter-communal violence in Central Asia. “The real knowledge about peacebuilding is on the ground. Usually, [this knowledge] is not only silenced at the local level, but women leaders’ voices are also absent at the international level,” stressed one of the conference participants. As local women peacebuilders and mediators continue to advocate for their full and meaningful participation in formal decision-making — a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable peace — participants emphasized how WPS networks remain crucial in promoting peace, conflict resolution and social cohesion.

While successful examples of WPS networks exist, many networks are unsustainable or ineffective as a result of insufficient and inflexible funding, re-emerging conflict and other factors. Furthermore, although a few cross-regional networks focus on WPS-related matters such as gender-based violence, there are no regional networks in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus or Central Asia dedicated to the implementation of the WPS agenda. To bridge the gap between women peacebuilders’ need for strong WPS networks and the current dearth of impactful options, GNWP’s “Women’s Networks WIN Together” conference transformed challenges, best practices and lessons learned from women peacebuilders and mediators on the ground into a strategy “roadmap” for efficient WPS networks. This roadmap will provide local and national civil society organizations with a practical guide to establishing, revitalizing and sustaining efficient networks on WPS and women’s meaningful participation in peace processes in the OSCE area.

To complement the efforts delineated in the strategy roadmap, each participant also crafted an individual action plan with three concrete SMART goals they committed to implementing in the coming months to revitalize a stalled or inefficient network of which they are members. These commitments ranged from sharing what they learned during the conference with their connections, to pitching a proposal to restructure their network’s operational model, to conducting training on WPS and leadership organized jointly by conference participants from different countries. “Through this event, I gained not only knowledge but also a renewed sense of motivation to actively participate in peacebuilding initiatives and support the rights and empowerment of women,” stated a Turkmen participant. GNWP will organize check-in meetings to follow up on the progress of the implementation of individual action plans in the fall of 2023.

The initial outcomes of these collective and individual revitalization efforts will culminate in January 2024, at a second OSCE conference in Vienna, Austria. During this convening, GNWP will introduce the finalized strategy roadmap, and women peacebuilders and mediators will have the opportunity to present their key messages to national and multilateral stakeholders. Participants will further engage in a constructive dialogue with key policymakers to jointly identify concrete actions and strategies for supporting women peacebuilders and mediators across the region. These discussions will contribute to building the capacity and momentum of women’s networks working to implement WPS across the regions. 

GNWP extends its gratitude to the OSCE for their continued support through the “WIN-Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” initiative. 

On 27 June 2023, GNWP, the OSCE and the UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office organized a side event featuring the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). It centered local women activists' key priorities and how the WPS-HA Compact can facilitate support for them. "Our objective now, given the pushbacks and challenges,” remarked Dr. Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Advisor on Gender Issues at the Office of the Secretary-General, “is to find ways to collectively push women's voices forward and put them into a discussion of peacebuilding and decision-making."

* Natia Kostava is the Program Officer for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).

** Sophia Farion is the Senior Program Officer for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia at GNWP.