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GNWP condemns the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

June 25, 2022

New York, USA. In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – the landmark Constitutional ruling that guaranteed a woman’s right to access abortion – the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) condemns this violation of fundamental human dignity and agency along with millions of people across the nation. GNWP stands in solidarity with those whose bodily autonomy has been imperiled by this judgment, particularly people of color, especially Black and Indigenous communities, individuals with disabilities, the economically disadvantaged, and other marginalized and historically vulnerable groups.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to an abortion, are essential to a free, just and equitable society. Studies have shown that restrictions on abortion rights only serve to harm women and those who require reproductive health services. GNWP condemns the weaponization and politicization of women’s bodies and healthcare choices for power and control. Undoubtedly, the ramifications of this dereliction of human dignity will impact globally, including in countries suffering from violent conflicts and humanitarian crises.

Central to our mission is the goal to build equal, resilient and peaceful communities and to support women in leading the way to a better future, none of which is possible without the right to bodily autonomy. GNWP continues to advance efforts to ensure that all women have full access to the human right to sexual and reproductive health, free from the undue burdens of stigma or barriers. 

We mourn this dark moment in American history. Still, we also derive hope and strength from feminists, women’s rights activists and gender equality allies in the United States and globally who continue to fight for the right to choose. We join you in the ongoing struggle for the full realization of women’s rights and human rights! 

GNWP Reports from Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, Northwestern Uganda

27 May 2022

By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza*

“We are the future of South Sudan! We want to go home, and we appeal to President Salva Kiir to ensure safety and security in our village,” – young South Sudanese refugee women in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, Uganda

As part of its Feminist and Localized Humanitarian Action Program, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, in partnership with Eve Organization for Women Development, facilitated a workshop on peacebuilding, women’s rights, and gender-responsive humanitarian action with young South Sudanese women refugees on 27 May 2022. The young women’s responses to the training were very positive and inspiring. They expressed their longing to go back home and live peaceful and productive lives. However, they also know that it may take a long while before that becomes a reality because of the sluggish implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement and the South Sudanese government’s lack of political will. Despite the limited resources and facilities at the refugee settlement, the young women want to learn how to read and write better and develop life skills. While they don’t mind walking to school, which takes several kilometers, they wish there were more classrooms and teachers. There is only one teacher for more than 100 students. There are very few classrooms where several grade levels must share one room. “Sometimes we just stand outside because the classroom is so full!” said one of the young women.

Thirty young women aged 17 to 30 participated in the workshop. Out of the 30, at least 20 already had children or were pregnant. They identified early pregnancy as one factor that prevents them from going to school and pursuing other opportunities. They want to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and they want to decide over their own bodies.

GNWP and Eve Organization plan to advocate with the Ugandan Government authorities to build more classrooms and hire more teachers. The two organizations also plan to organize sex education and identify other groups or institutions that can provide reproductive health care services.

The young women also discussed their livelihood projects. They want to earn incomes to support themselves and their families. GNWP provided them with seed funds for their projects. The students in the group also received funds to buy school supplies.

Hon. Betty Ogwaro, a Member of the National Parliament of South Sudan joined GNWP and Eve Organization on the trip to Bidi Bidi. She exchanged ideas with the South Sudanese women refugees, particularly on how to achieve peace in South Sudan. Hon. Ogwaro serves on the Boards of GNWP and Eve Organization.                                                                                                                           

GNWP and Eve Organization will continue to collaborate to enhance the South Sudanese young women’s leadership potential and develop their skills. They will also support the young women to participate in the management of the refugee settlement and implement the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace, and Security in South Sudan and Uganda. 

GNWP thanks the Austrian Development Agency and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation for their support. 

* Mavic Cabrera-Balleza is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.

Celebrating inclusive collaboration: Launch of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace chapter in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region

4 April 2022

by Shayne Wong[1] and Katrina Leclerc[2]

Rwanda is often remembered internationally for the genocide perpetrated on its territory in 1994. However, increasingly the country has been recognized within the African continent and the wider international community for a different reason: Rwanda has taken great lengths to address gender inequality and has recognized the need for women’s equal participation in decision-making to heal and rebuild their communities.

The Constitution of Rwanda sets gender equality as one of its pillars, and it established a  30 per cent quota for the number of women in parliament. As of October 2020, UN Women reported that Rwandan women occupy 61 per cent of the parliamentary seats, leading global figures for women’s participation in any country’s parliament. Along with governmental action, civil society groups have galvanized significant progress towards gender equality.

To support Rwandan gender equality efforts, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), ISOKO Partners for Peace and Gender Equality, Benimpuhwe, and Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), launched the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Rwanda with a series of workshops and a virtual forum. The workshops in Kigali convened government officials and youth from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda from 9-11 September 2021. The workshops inaugurated the newest and tenth chapter of GNWP’s YWL network globally. The virtual forum, which took place from 8-10 January 2022, followed up on discussions from the launch activities while also encouraging government officials from the three countries to reaffirm their commitments toward gender equality and the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) in the Great Lakes Region region.

The Young Women+ Leaders program helps young women and gender equality allies gain the skills and confidence to become leaders in their communities. It raises awareness of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security agendas and enhances women and youth peacebuilding capacities to effectively advocate for the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas at local, regional, national, and international levels.

Advancing regional peace and security priorities

The workshops in Kigali were an opportunity for 28participants from Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda to share their stories  about advocating for the WPS and YPS agendas in the Great Lakes Region and increase their capacities as advocates. The participants discussed leadership skills, COVID-19 response, effective global advocacy campaigns.

“I am proud to be a young man in peacebuilding because I can lend my voice to young women and support gender equality through my commitments to peace.” – Young Women+ Leaders for Peace member from Rwanda

The session on gender equality facilitated by RWAMREC emphasized the importance of recognizing that gender equality is not only a women’s issue. It challenged people of all genders to engage with and advocate for the fight for gender equality in the Great Lakes Region. Questions such as “what makes you proud to be a man/woman?” or “what does not make you proud to be a man/woman?” were posed to the attendees. Members of the newly-formed Young Women+ Leaders for Peace network were encouraged to recognize and reflect on the ways that women and men can work together to fight for and achieve gender equality in the region.

Renewing commitments for gender equality

“Everyone can contribute [to the effective implementation of the policies.] We cannot reach the goals alone but together by joining efforts, we can.” -Concluding observation by break out group examining the Participation pillar of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security

The January 2022 virtual forum saw over 30 participants from government and civil society come together to share their progress and reaffirm their commitment to gender equality in the Great Lakes Region. In the sessions, YWL members discussed their accomplishments since the official launch of the network and how they envision a gender-equitable and youth-inclusive future in the region.

YW+L members had the opportunity to hear about the work on WPS, YPS and gender equality in DRC from both civil society and government representatives. The newly-formed Congolese Coalition for YPS, which officially launched on 9 December 2021, shared its experiences on building a coalition and promoting youth inclusion in peacebuilding. The National Technical Secretariat for UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (STN-2250) also shared their ongoing work in the DRC on the development of the National Action Plan (NAP) on YPS.

Throughout the sessions, YWL members were able to share perspectives and recommendations about how young people can be included at all levels of peacebuilding. Some of their key recommendations were allocating core funding for youth organizations, raising youth awareness of the YPS resolutions, implementing intersectional approaches to peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region, and holding governments and key stakeholders accountable for the full implementation of the YPS resolutions.

The workshops and virtual forum on the WPS and YPS resolutions in the Great Lakes Region were organized with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

For more information on GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace program, please visit:

[1] Shayne Wong is the Youth Engagement Program Coordinator at ISOKO Partners for Peace and Gender Equality. She works on ISOKO’s Youth, Peace and Security policy and programming.

[2] Katrina Leclerc is the Director for Africa, Middle East & North Africa (MENA), and Latin America Programs and Communications at GNWP.

An Appeal for the Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Ukraine and Respect of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws

4 March 2022

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) strongly condemns the military invasion of Ukraine and the recognition of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states by the Russian Federation. We call on all parties to ensure respect for human rights, women’s rights, and international humanitarian law.

The military invasion and the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and territories of Donetsk and Luhansk violate the United Nations Charter and other international laws. Since the current Russian invasion, 352 have died and 1, 700 have been wounded. This adds to the more than 14,000 casualties, 30,000 injured, and over 2 million IDPs in 2014. Moreover, due to the invasion, Ukrainian women are at higher risk of trafficking, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and restricted access to education, employment, and health care.

The Russian Federation’s recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent from Ukraine along with its ongoing military operations in Berdiansk, Enerhodar, Lviv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, and Zaporizhzhia regions have resulted in mass human rights violations and displacement, and threaten peace and stability not only in Europe but in the entire world. These actions violate the United Nations Charter, international humanitarian law, and the Minsk Accords, a set of 2015 agreements that sought to end hostilities and reinstate protection for human rights in the Donbas region. In the face of the growing humanitarian crisis, Ukrainian women are mobilizing to distribute humanitarian aid, disseminate critical information through social media, and help families flee from the attacks of Russian military forces. Nevertheless, talks in Belarus between Russia and Ukraine have failed to include Ukrainian women meaningfully. 

It is vital to support humanitarian efforts led by Ukrainian women and ensure their participation in decision-making on peace and security in accordance with Ukraine’s National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. GNWP urges the United Nations Security Council and the broader international community to take all necessary action to restore security in Ukraine, protect civilians and prioritize their needs, especially those of women peacebuilders, activists, and vulnerable populations.

GNWP stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, especially women and youth peacebuilders, who are key actors in the survival and resilience of their families and communities during a crisis. We must continue to listen to and amplify the voices of the Ukrainian people. We reinforce their calls for:

  1. An immediate ceasefire, cessation of all hostilities, and adherence with international humanitarian law;
  2. Safe and accessible humanitarian corridors for evacuation and the delivery of aid that reaches all Ukrainian people in need, especially minority communities;
  3. Initiation of a peace process which ensures the meaningful participation of women, youth, and other historically marginalized communities at all stages of negotiations;
  4. Provision of rapid technical and financial support to Ukraine civil society organizations, including women’s rights organizations on the frontlines of the humanitarian crisis;
  5. Protection of women’s rights and human rights in Ukraine by Member States, multilateral institutions;
  6. An investigation of the crimes of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed within the territory of Ukraine by the International Criminal Court;
  7. Accountability for human rights violations through gender-responsive monitoring and accountability mechanisms led by international actors such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and
  8. Integration of key provisions of the Women, Peace, and Security resolutions into all programs and security initiatives in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

The World’s First National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security – An analysis of Finnish commitments

9 December 2021

Katrina Leclerc[1]

In August 2021, the peace and security community welcomed the first National Action Plan (NAP) on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) under Finnish leadership.

The Finnish NAP (2021-2024) comes at a time when we are witnessing a rise in the impact of the YPS community – with thousands of youth-led social justice movements providing emergency assistance in pandemic responses in the Philippines, to global anti-racism demands in the United States, to civil disobedience following the February coup in Myanmar. Young people are making waves on the international stage, further demonstrating their agency in peace.

Finland is one of the pioneers of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, having first announced its NAP development process in 2019, and co-hosting the first international symposium on the positive role of young people in peace processes in Helsinki in March of that year. The Finnish YPS NAP builds on the standard for NAP drafting, strongly inspired by the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. National action plans have been the primary method to translate international law into actionable commitments by governments, since the ground-breaking adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR on WPS) in 2000.

Effective implementation of policy commitments

Following the adoption of UNSCR 2250 on YPS in 2015, young peacebuilders and their allies have been debating whether or not NAPs are the most effective tool to institutionalize and operationalize the agenda. Nevertheless, the Finnish NAP, followed by the Nigerian NAP, paves the way for Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, and the Philippines, among others, who have announced their development of national action plans on this thematic area.

The question of effective NAP development aside – the NAP process outlined by Finland demonstrates the need for an inclusive consultation and drafting process.

“Our 2250 network of youth organizations and other civil society actors played a key role at all stages of the NAP process. We organized two rounds of consultations that produced input for the NAP, we were invited to give comments to draft documents, and had a constant dialogue with the ministry formally and informally. We also received some public funding that enabled us to organize the consultations. In general, our views were very well received and taken into account. Of course there is always room for improvement, and we are confident that our active role and youth involvement will continue in the next stages.” – Kaisa Larjomaa, International Advocacy Specialist at the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi; Coordinator of the 2250 network of Finland

It also addresses a critical gap in some other countries’ NAPs, that of domestic implementation. Several countries which are considered “at peace,” such as Finland, have been criticized for adopting NAPs on WPS (or other thematic areas) which have little to no domestic focus. This means that a country’s NAP is almost exclusively linked to its international commitments rather than also addressing local gaps in peace and security. Finland’s NAP is refreshingly diverse in its approach and recognizes, targets, and prioritizes a dual implementation – both domestic and foreign.  

The priority areas in Finland’s NAP on YPS follow the five pillars of the YPS agenda (participation, prevention, partnerships, protection, and disengagement and reintegration). Importantly, it also includes a cross-cutting theme on intersectionality. It pulls from lessons learned from UNSCR 1325, and the WPS agenda, and demands an intersectional analysis inspired by the long-examined context of sex and gender. Finland commits to also addressing the specific marginalization of boys and young men. In Finland, young women are more likely to meaningfully participate in political decision-making. Interestingly, the NAP does not have young women-specific measures in this regard.

The Finnish NAP expands further to various other facets of young people’s identities such as sexual orientation, disability, race, religion, social-economic and educational backgrounds. By doing so, Finland recognizes the diversity of young people and focuses on their strengths and barriers – an emerging approach promoted by intersectional feminist actors.

“An intersectional approach will be promoted in the action plan by involving different types of young people and youth organisations and by providing them with the opportunity to also participate in the plan’s monitoring and evaluation. […] The intersectional approach also means taking into account that some young people need more support in order to play a meaningful role in decision-making.” (Finland National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security, 2021, p. 26).

Overall, the priority areas of the Finnish NAP touch on a wide range of themes, including the humanitarian-development-peace “triple” nexus. Finland has committed to integrating a YPS perspective into development cooperation, humanitarian work, and peacebuilding. As an important donor to the humanitarian and peacebuilding communities, Finland could increase investment in youth-led initiatives. Additionally, Finland has committed to raising awareness of young human rights defenders’, peacebuilders’, and activists’ work, rights, and need for protection.

Within the context of this new digital era, it is fitting that the NAP also emphasizes social media as both a tool and a threat to peace and security. Finland outlines commitments to prevent the spread of misinformation and fake news by promoting media literacy and peace education. Furthermore, it recognizes the impact of mental health on young people and describes it as a barrier to participation and protection, while viewing it as a prevention issue.

The Finnish NAP is ground-breaking and innovative when it comes to priorities for Youth, Peace and Security implementation. There is no doubt that Finland has demonstrated significant leadership with the development and adoption of this policy – in partnership and cooperation with civil society and young people. Several questions remain in terms of implementation and monitoring, especially with the lack of a specific, dedicated budget attached to this NAP. However, with genuine commitment and continued leadership, Finnish young people and youth across the world will surely benefit from this innovative policy approach.

GNWP wishes to congratulate Finland on the collaborative process which led to the adoption of this first NAP on YPS. GNWP is enthusiastic and optimistic about its impact, and we look forward to collaborating for a localized implementation.

[1] Katrina Leclerc is the Youth, Peace and Security Policy Specialist and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She manages GNWP’s global YPS policy work and Young Women Leaders for Peace programs in Eastern Africa.