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Hope for Change – Reflections on the Paris Generation Equality Forum 2021

21 September 2021

by Panthea Pourmalek[1]

Every time a fellow advocate, grassroots organizer, peacebuilder, mentor, or elder shares with me that they were present in Beijing in 1995, or the adaptation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, I cannot help but feel immense awe and astonishment.

This International Peace Day, I am reflecting. It’s been over two months since I attended the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) as a youth participant and speaker, and I’m still thrilled to think about it. It was an exciting and empowering experience! After the end of the Forum, I am left wondering if, in a handful of years, I too will be able to proudly share that I was present for a powerful turning point that forever changed progress on gender equality. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented regression in women’s rights issues and gender equality across the globe, creating alongside it a ‘shadow pandemic’ of gender-based violence. The Paris Generation Equality Forum took place during this crucial moment, bringing together gender advocates and peacebuilders, civil society, policymakers, academics, international organizations, and the private sector to reinvigorate action on gender equality by 2026. As a young woman participating in the Forum, I am filled with hope for a just, resilient, and gender-equal recovery and a re-affirmed belief that I – among all others – play a crucial and indispensable role within it. 

The Forum was partly born out of frustration with the slow and stagnant pace of progress in gender equality despite numerous international policies. Therefore, the Forum created an environment for intergenerational and multi-stakeholder collaborations toward more ambitious and concrete commitments to gender equality. The Paris Generation Equality Forum took place from 30 June to 2 July 2021 as a follow-up to the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico held in March of this year. The Mexico Forum served as a launching point for six thematic ‘Action Coalitions’ that form a Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality. These Action Coalitions include:

  1. Gender-Based Violence
  2. Economic Justice and Rights
  3. Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
  4. Feminist Action for Climate Justice
  5. Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality
  6. Feminist Movements and Leadership

The Paris Forum encouraged all stakeholders to announce their commitments and actions within this framework. As a symbol of ambitious, collective, and collaborative effort, the Paris Forum concluded with an announcement of over US$40 billion in investments in accelerating global progress on gender equality over the next five years, including:

  • A $2.1 billion commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance women’s leadership, reproductive health and economic empowerment;
  • An investment of $1 billion into supporting programs to end gender-based violence by the United States Government; 
  • The expansion of the Global Alliance for Care to include over 39 countries and the commitment of $100 million toward addressing inequalities in the global care economy by the Government of Canada;
  • A commitment from the Malala Fund to provide $20 million in feminist funding for activists working on girls’ education.

The WPS-HA Compact

As a young peacebuilder, I spent my three days at the Forum attending events related to Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS). I was especially interested in events that provided a platform to young women and girls active at the grassroots level. For me, the biggest highlight of the Paris Forum was witnessing the launch of the Women, Peace, and Security – Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact.

The Compact seeks to drive a global inter-generational movement to carry out existing WPS and Humanitarian Action commitments. All stakeholders, from Member States to women-led organizations and beyond, can join as signatories to the Compact and contribute to concrete and coordinated action in the field. 

Unlike the Action Coalitions, the Compact was not an original component of the Generation Equality platform. However, due to the advocacy of over 150 organizations worldwide, WPS and YPS were integrated into the Forum in the form of the Compact. I am proud to say that the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) leads the global advocacy for the creation of the Compact.  Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, the CEO and founder of GNWP, reminded us of the core and origin of the Compact at its GEF launch event: 

“The Compact on WPS-HA is a result of civil society advocacy. Like the ground-breaking UN resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security that was advocated for and co-drafted by civil society, we also co-drafted the Compact framework. At the core of the Compact are the voices of women and young women who live through violent conflict and humanitarian emergencies every single day. Many of them cannot be in Paris, or in front of a computer or mobile phone to join us today… The lack of recognition, support, and enabling conditions for local women and young women to take their rightful seat in all places where decisions on peace and security, humanitarian action, gender equality, and politics are made – this is why GNWP and hundreds of civil society groups fought for the intentional integration of WPS, YPS, and Humanitarian Action in the Generation Equality Forum.”

I genuinely believe that women and youth peacebuilders should not be regarded as passive observers in high-level decision-making. The creation of the Compact serves as a shining example of our innate agency and ability to assert our place within important conversations.

Youth in Action

Another highlight of the Paris Forum was the inclusion of a diverse range of young voices. 101 youth-led organizations created commitments across the Action Coalitions, and youth voices from across the world spoke in various events.

I had the opportunity to speak with Wevyn Muganda, the Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow at GNWP, about her experience speaking at the GEF side event titled “Understanding the Triple Nexus through a Gender Lens”. Organized by GNWP, Austrian Development Cooperation, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and CARE Austria, this dialogue between women and youth activists, humanitarian and peacebuilding organizations, and development partners emphasized women’s leadership, expertise and innovation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This response to COVID-19 is an example of integrating gender in the humanitarian, development and peace triple nexus.

For Wevyn, the commonalities between her work in Kenya and her fellow panelists’ work in Palestine uncovered the solidarity across movements despite geographic distance and cultural differences. Wevyn left the GEF feeling that the Forum has made a significant contribution to progress in gender equality, primarily through providing a non-tokenistic platform for grassroots voices. She shared the importance of this approach by explaining:

“The Forum has provided a chance for grassroots voices like mine to be heard– because our experiences are valid. When you look at it, all the six Action Coalitions and the Compact, all these documents, and all these nice laws and policies – when we wake up every day, we don’t think about them. We think, ‘Do we have food to eat today?’ ‘Are we safe?’ ‘Can I go out and walk safely as a young woman?’. Including grassroots voices like mine validates the aim of it all: it doesn’t matter how beautifully we put gender equality or how beautifully we describe the Generation Equality Forum. It has to match our reality. And that’s the only way it’s going to be sustainable.”

I echo Wevyn’s sentiments on grassroots youth participation wholeheartedly. I had the chance to organize and moderate a youth-led side event of my own, where several Indigenous and racialized young women spoke on their experiences with activism within spaces such as the Forum. I hope that other young women and girl activists and peacebuilders who had the chance to attend our side events left the forum with a renewed sense of agency and assurance that they belong in such spaces. 

After the first segment of the Generation Equality Forum, we cannot help but wonder – what’s next? This question, however, seems to carry a different weight from previous events. In a way, the GEF was the answer to that very question, posed after conferences and gatherings that ended with bold statements, words, and written agreements, but failed to deliver action and change. Through the Forum, all actors active in the arena of gender equality have committed to concrete actions and accountability. It is up to us to seize the next five years to harness the tools this collective process has produced, and create meaningful and lasting change. 

For me, words shared by Shantel Marakera, founder of the Little Dreamers Foundation, at the very start of the Forum encapsulate the perfect vision of this change: 

“Right now what we need is transformative change. Change that is visible to everyone – not just those in this room or those participating in the Forum virtually, but those who have no idea about the GEF. We want women, and girls, and gender-diverse individuals from every part of the world to notice this sudden shift in the air, and start questioning ‘Wait, why is there a noticeable shift in racial justice, in economic justice, in education?’ And then, we’ll be there, standing proud, and we’ll be saying ‘WE did that!’. That intergenerational, multi-stakeholder process did that! It is our process.”


[1] Panthea Pourmalek is a Research and Advocacy Intern at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She supported GNWP’s work on the establishment of the WPS-HA Compact and coordinated advocacy efforts around the Paris Generation Equality Forum.

Join GNWP as a Junior Peacebuilding Influencer

Junior Peacebuilding Influencer

Context

At the request of some of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program, GNWP is creating a remote volunteer position of “Junior Peacebuilding Influencer.” The position seeks to help increase young women’s experience in global communication strategies and peacebuilding advocacy, and provide them with an opportunity to strengthen their resume. The Junior Peacebuilding Influencer will support advocacy work in their region or country and in global advocacy fora.

The Organization

GNWP is a coalition of women’s groups and other civil society organizations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe, Middle East and the Arab world—mostly in conflict-affected countries—that are actively involved in advocacy and action for the full and effective implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) on women and peace and security; and youth and peace and security.

GNWP aims to amplify women’s voices for a more sustainable and inclusive peace. To achieve this aim, GNWP engages in four strategies:

  1. “Full cycle” implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Sustaining Peace agenda by providing technical and advocacy support to develop National Action Plans, their costing and budgeting, implementation and monitoring;
  2. Bringing the voices of local women and civil society to global policy forums;
  3. Empowering young women to become leaders in peacebuilding and sustaining peace; and
  4. Ensuring adequate and predictable funding for WPS and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Resolutions’ implementation. 

Responsibilities

The Junior Peacebuilding Influencer agrees to:

  1. Support GNWP with youth-specific projects and a particular focus on the Young Women Leaders for Peace program;
  2. Provide support in maintaining GNWP’s online presence on social media and in advocacy spaces, including UN and other international fora;
  3. Monitor and track UN Security Council activities on Women and Peace and Security (WPS); Youth, Peace and Security (YPS); and Sustaining Peace in your region/country;
  4. Provide support in the promotion of various programs and projects related to the advocacy for the effective implementation of UNSCR 1325, 1820, 2250 and the supporting resolutions on Women and Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) in your region/country;
  5. Actively engage on social media platforms where GNWP is active (Twitter; Facebook; Instagram) showcasing both in country-level work and global events relevant to GNWP and its partners; and
  6. Coordinate and liaise with the GNWP’s Regional Focal Points and Communications Coordinator for all tasks, as needed.

Qualifications

  • Current or former member of GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace program, or affiliated with one of GNWP’s member organizations in a region where the YWL program is not active;
  • Particular interest in implementing global policies and international laws at the national and local levels; to national and community level and amplifying the voices of grassroots women and youth at the global level;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • Proficiency in English; and
  • A creative outlook, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective.

To apply please send an expression of interest to GNWP’s Communications Coordinator (katrina@gnwp.org) with the email subject line: Junior Peacebuilding Influencer – YOUR NAME

Full details are also available here.

GNWP signs the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action!

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to be a Board Member and signatory to the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA).

The Compact was launched as part of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), which took place in Paris between 30 June and 2 July 2021. The GEF was created to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. Despite global efforts, such as the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, gender equality progress has been slow, inconsistent, and risks further destabilization from armed conflicts, humanitarian crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other global issues such as climate change and economic injustice. The GEF’s purpose was to rally governments, activists, corporations, and civil rights groups to achieve change through ambitious investments and actionable policies.

What is the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action?

One of the key outcomes of the GEF was the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). The Compact is an inter-generational global movement that aims to accelerate implementation, strengthen accountability, and mobilize funding for the Women Peace & Security (WPS) agenda and gender equality in Humanitarian Action.

Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Peacebuilders, describes the Compact as:

“An opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get the job done! GNWP will work with all partners to build a vibrant, intersectional, and intergenerational global movement for sustainable peace, gender equality, and feminist humanitarian action, which champions the leadership of local women, young women, adolescent girls, and LGTBQIA+ persons.”

Over the next five years, the Compact will be guided by a framework that provides a clear path for concerted action for Member States, United Nations entities, regional organizations, civil society, private sector actors, and academic institutions. The Compact Framework includes specific actions across five thematic areas:

  • Financing the WPS Agenda and gender equality in humanitarian programming
  • Women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and the inclusion of gender-related provisions in peace processes
  • Women’s economic security, access to resources, and other essential services
  • Women’s leadership and full, equal, and meaningful participation across peace, security, and humanitarian sectors
  • Protecting and promoting women’s human rights in conflict and crisis contexts 

Critically, the Compact Framework must be implemented in synergy with the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, a set of multistakeholder partnerships to catalyze collective action and deliver concrete results for women and girls. A monitoring scheme to assess the implementation of the Framework will be developed by the Compact Board and Catalytic members. The specific actions outlined in the Framework will be mapped against existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

GNWP’s commitment to the Compact

Along with Member States, UN entities, regional organizations, civil society organizations, private sector actors, and academic institutions, GNWP is proud to be a signatory to the Compact. GNWP has committed to 13 actions across four thematic areas of the Framework which will be implemented by:

  • Expanding and reinforcing partnerships with national and local women’s rights organizations to strengthen their capacity and eligibility to receive and manage donor funding, and eliminate barriers to financing for grassroots CSOs;
  • Growing and strengthening partnerships with youth-led and young women-focused organizations and networks to embed their priorities in YPS and WPS advocacy;
  • Providing technical and advisory support to women mediators and women peacebuilders in peace processes including through creating and sustaining systematic links between formal and informal peace processes;
  • Recognizing and engaging men and boys as partners and gender equality allies in addressing and reversing harmful gender norms; and 
  • Promoting the inclusion of gender-related provisions in all ceasefire and peace agreements in humanitarian assistance and delivery.

GNWP recognizes that effective implementation of the Compact Framework is contingent on the leadership, ownership, and participation of women and young women peacebuilders from conflict and crisis-affected communities. In the lead-up to the Paris Forum, GNWP convened 130 participants from over 35 countries in a Civil Society Briefing on 25 June 2021, to raise awareness of the Compact and its framework, and solicit support from national and local women’s civil society organizations and youth organizations for its implementation.

GNWP encourages women’s civil society organizations and youth groups, particularly from conflict and crisis-affected communities, to review the Compact Framework and register as Signatories.

Rwandan government and civil society discuss the use of CEDAW to advance women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and recovery

15 June 2021

By Emem Bassey, Peacebuilding Program Intern for Africa, GNWP

“To implement something well, you have to monitor it. Monitoring helps see the gaps. Reporting on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) gives us an opportunity to reflect on the gaps in the implementation of Women, Peace and Security resolutions” –Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos, Director of Programs, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

GNWP in partnership with ISOKO Partners and Benimpuhwe, civil society organizations working in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, organized a workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and its supporting resolutions from 31 March to 1 April 2021. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Rwandan Government, civil society, and UN entities, focused on the use of CEDAW as a complementary reporting mechanism on the implementation of the WPS resolutions. It was organized in relation to Rwanda’s report to CEDAW wherein both the Government and civil society will submit reports. The organizing of the workshop was supported by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.  

Importance of assessment of WPS resolutions’ implementation and reporting

The workshop enabled the government and civil society participants to assess the progress in the implementation of the WPS resolutions and the remaining gaps. They also identified concrete recommendations for more effective implementation of the WPS resolutions and the National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS. Specific to civil society participants, it was an opportunity to review the draft report prepared by the government and provide their comments.

The workshop allowed participants to discuss many topics including the ways women are affected by conflicts and refugee crises; women’s roles as actors for peace; the need for women to be present in security sector institutions; the meaningful participation of women in local decision-making and conflict resolution structures; and, the need to support women both as voters and candidates in national and local elections. Importantly, the participants discussed the progress and the persistent challenges in the implementation of the WPS agenda, which should be reflected in the upcoming CEDAW report.

Analyzing the progress and gaps in WPS resolutions’ implementation

The topics discussed during the workshops were far-reaching and covered a multitude of areas. Some of the highlights of the discussions are the following: 

  • Identifying important advances to the implementation of the WPS agenda. Advances included the establishment of the national machinery for the advancement of women, the mainstreaming of gender equality across government policies and development frameworks –  including the country’s “Vision 2050” strategy, and the introduction of a quota for women’s participation in District Councils and the Executive Council in the city of Kigali.
  • The prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) and lack of access to services for GBV victims and survivors. Rates of violence remain high despite the measures put in place by the government – such as the Gender Accountability Days (GAD), a series of activities held at the district level to raise awareness, enhance accountability for gender equality, and prevention and response to GBV. The participants emphasized that CEDAW implementation and the effective use of the media and communication channels are critical instruments to address GBV.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on WPS agenda implementation in the country, and the need to ensure that the COVID-19 recovery be gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive. The pandemic has revealed the widened gaps in social systems, and their disproportionate impact on women and girls. Across Africa, lockdown measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus have left many women with no escape from abusive partners. As a result, the cases of domestic violence and GBV increased in Rwanda during the pandemic. The participants concluded that the pandemic underscored the urgent need for full and effective implementation of the WPS agenda, to ensure that women’s rights are protected and that they participate in advocacy and lead the search for solutions.
  • The importance of involving young women and men in conversations about WPS implementation and GBV prevention. The participants recommended that gender studies be included in school curricula, in order for children to grow up with the understanding of gender equality. They also emphasized the importance of localizing the WPS agenda (see #Localization1325), to raise local government’s awareness of this international law, and ensure they can effectively contribute to its implementation and eradication of GBV. They identified concrete strategies – such as town hall meetings and dissemination of leaflets – to ensure that community members, including women and young women, are aware of the government’s COVID-19 responses including the economic packages available to them.

Crisis and Risk Communications Training

The workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the WPS resolutions was followed by a training focusing on the importance of communication during conflicts and crises, such as a pandemic. The training was organized by GNWP, in partnership with the Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and was attended by women and gender equality activists from across Rwanda, who have been first-responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the findings of the workshop on the CEDAW and WPS synergies, the workshop created a space for women from civil society to develop an advocacy and communications strategy that calls for a gender-specific and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response and recovery.

During this second day of the workshop, participants identified advocacy messages around COVID-19 response and recovery and designed strategies to distribute messaging. As a follow-up to the workshop, GNWP and RWN will transform these messages into information, education and communications materials, which will be widely disseminated, and will complement civil society’s efforts to advance the implementation of WPS resolutions through CEDAW reporting and implementation.

The two workshops provided a rich space for discussion and resulted in concrete recommendations. GNWP and its civil society partners look forward to seeing them reflected in Rwanda’s State Party report and disseminated through information, education and communications materials. Stay tuned!

Background to GNWP’s work: UNSCR 1325 and the Rwandan Genocide

In Rwanda, the UNSCR 1325 was profoundly important, as it was adopted during Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 genocide. During the genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to a mass scale of sexual violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe. Although the exact number of women who were raped will never be known, testimonies from survivors confirm that rape and other forms of sexual violence – including sexual slavery – were a widespread practice. Such practices contributed to the genocide having a devastating impact on Rwandan women.

Despite Rwandan women being greatly impacted by the genocide, women have been leaders in reconstructing the country. Even before the adoption of the UNSCR 1325 in 2000, Rwandan women have played a central role in maintaining peace and security in their communities, country and region. Women mobilized to take care of the orphans and non-accompanied children left in their communities after the genocide. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 children were fostered or adopted by families and women-headed households.

Rwandan women worked together to rebuild solidarity and mutual understanding as a first step towards national reconciliation. For example, the Forum of Rwandese women leaders and Unity Club were formed, bringing together influential women from Rwanda to promote the message of reconciliation in communities, and foster cooperation among women parliamentarians from different backgrounds. Today, women make up 61.25 percent of Rwanda’s parliament, making it the country with the highest proportion of women in the national legislature.

Recognizing the important roles of women in peacebuilding resulted in Rwanda adopting its first three-year National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 in 2009. The second generation of the NAP, adopted in 2018 for the period 2018-2022, commits Rwanda to continue its efforts to implement the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and other WPS resolutions: Protection, Prevention, Participation and Relief and Recovery. Effective monitoring of UNSCR 1325 implementation will be essential to ensuring meaningful participation, respect and protection of women’s rights.

Young Women building bridges in Georgia: Launch of Georgia’s Young Women Leaders for Peace program

14 June, 2021

By Michaela Zelenanska, Peacebuilding Programs Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, GNWP

“To me, peace means being able to move freely, cross the border you see behind me. But I cannot do it.” –Georgian participant talking about what peace and security means to them.

“Peace means stability, access to economic opportunities. In the villages along the Administrative Border Line people do not have access to jobs. Living here means being stressed all the time.” – Georgian participant talking about living along the Administrative Border Line separating Georgia from the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The quotes above are how young women from Georgia describe peace in their country. Economic opportunities, mental health, wellbeing, and mobility are the key attributes missing from their lives. They still feel the impacts of war – which officially ended in 2008, when many of them were still young children. They are determined, and ready to work towards sustainable peace.

To support young women’s leadership in peacebuilding, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the IDP Women Association ‘’Consent’’, organized an introductory three-day training on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and peacebuilding for young women and men in Georgia. The event took place on April 24-26 2021 and was supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The participants had the opportunity to analyse the relevance of these critical agendas for young people in Georgia and to talk about the importance of youth-led initiatives in building sustainable peace. The training also served as a launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Georgia.   

GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace Program

Since 2014, the GNWP´s YWL program has supported more than 7,000 young women in conflict-affected countries and communities to enhance their skills, capacities and resilience and fully realize their potential as leaders and agents of peace. The program is being implemented in seven countries outside of Georgia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Ukraine. GNWP has worked with its partners and young women to tailor a methodology to the context and needs of each participating country. They have also supported young women to run their own peacebuilding initiatives – from organizing community peace dialogues, to teaching literacy in refugee camps, to running civic education campaigns via social media.

During the Georgia training event the GNWP team shared the achievements of the young women peacebuilders with the 20 young women and men participants.  The participants were excited by the impact of these young women and inspired to join the YWL networks.

The participants shared their perspective on the situation in their country. Many of the young people were directly affected by the long conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia: two regions that have seceded from Georgia and formally declared independence in 1999 and 1991 respectively. Even though the conflict in Georgia is often described as “frozen”, it still has tangible impacts on the lives of Georgian people – including young women and men. Some of the participants were internally displaced or lived in the so-called ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) villages, where skirmishes still happen. Therefore they feel the consequences of the conflict every day.

Throughout the training, the young participants became acquainted with the WPS and YPS agendas. They showed a very good understanding of the effects of conflict and violence on women and young people. Thanks to the engaging “crash course” on peacebuilding, organized by Yago Pasandze, Executive Director of NGO Saunje and youth trainer, the participants were able to discuss and explore specific concepts, such as peace trust recovery, democracy and justice, and their relevance to their own situations. They also directly applied their newly-gained knowledge through interactive exercises.

A crucial part of the training was reflecting on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Georgia. Participants shared personal stories about the impacts of the pandemic on their communities – including increased domestic violence and negative effects on women´s rights, as well the negative effects of the pandemic on education – schools were closed in Georgia during certain periods of the national lockdown that affected access to education.

All the young people who participated in the training emphasized the necessity of achieving a sustainable peace in Georgia. They also highlighted the role of young people in conflict resolution. The participants were primarily from the new generation that does not remember the once peaceful coexistence of Georgians and Abkhazians. Nevertheless, they shared their hope that it would be their generation who would build the bridges between the two sides of the border. 

The 3-day training was full of inspiration and motivation. The GNWP team was glad to see the enthusiasm of the participants, and look forward to continuing the implementation of the YWL program in Georgia. Didi madloba!

Young women’s drawn responses to the question: “What does peace mean to you?”