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GNWP and its members and partners launch the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 NAP Localization Guidelines in Nepal

By Helena Gronberg

On May 7, 2013 at a ceremony in Kathmandu, the Global Network of Peacebuilders and its Nepali members 1 and partners launched the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Nepal NAP Localization Guideline. The ceremony, which gathered some 100 participants from six districts, as well as government partners, the donor community and UN agencies, was a much anticipated culmination of GNWP’s initiative Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820, a program that has been operational in Nepal since 2011. In partnership with the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MOPR) and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MOFALD), and with financial support from the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, the Localization Guidelines were drafted in 2012 and on Tuesday officially adopted and launched. Joint Secretary Saduram Sapkota of MOPR, who has played a key role since the inception of the program, in his remarks stressed that the presence at the launch of seven government bodies and two UN agencies underscored the importance of the document and would without doubt warrant its implementation.

The Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program is a people-based, bottom-up approach to policy-making and policy implementation, aimed specifically at the implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs) on UNSCRs 1325 and 1820. By bringing together local and national stakeholders, civil society and government actors the program ensures broad-based ownership of the policies on women and peace and security at country level. 2

 

The Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program was launched in Nepal through a series of awareness raising trainings in the districts of Banke and Kaski, organized by GNWP and GNWP member Saathi, in collaboration with MOPR, in June 2011. The trainings gathered, district and village development officers, chief district officers, members of the local peace committees, representatives from conflict affected communities, army officials and members of the armed police, teachers, leaders of women’s groups and other local actors. The objective of the trainings was to come up with strategies for integrating the Nepal NAP into already existing district and village development planning processes. The Nepal NAP that was adopted in early 2011 has been celebrated as one of the most consultative NAP processes to date, boasting consultations with stakeholders at all levels in 51 out of Nepal’s 75 districts. The Localization program was to ensure that local ownership and outreach to communities most affected by conflict is sustained.. “We wanted to ensure that the NAP was not shelved but taken to the districts and villages to the people most affected by the conflict,” said Bandana Rana, Executive Chair of Saathi.

During the months following the localization trainings further consultations were held with various stakeholders, including MOFALD, the government agency ultimately responsible for coordination, cooperation, and monitoring and evaluation of activities undertaken at district and village level, as well as any initiatives initiated by development partners. With the support of MOFALD as well as MOPR, the guidelines were subsequently drafted and field-tested at village and district level in 2012. The launch on Tuesday marked the final stage of making the document official. Mr. Ram Kumar Shrestha, Minister of Peace and Reconstruction in his inaugural speech remarked that the Guidelines would guarantee women’s meaningful participation in prevention of future conflicts, and congratulated the different partners on the development of the document. In her speech, GNWP International Coordinator Mavic Cabrera-Balleza said “we are celebrating how the Nepali people are implementing locally and inspiring globally. “You are showing the world “the how“ of implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 in ways that will make a difference in the lives of women and men, girls and boys in local communities directly affected by the conflicts and its aftermath,” she added.

The Localization program in Nepal is made possible with the support of the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, and we were very pleased that both governments were represented at the launch. H.E. Mr. Stewart Beck, Ambassador of Canada reaffirmed Canada’s support to Nepal’s commitment to the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and complemented GNWP and its partners on its many achievements in implementing UNSCR 1325, “the Localization program being no exception”, he said. Camilla Rossaak, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Norway, on her part expressed hope that “the Guidelines for how local authorities can integrate the National Action Plan and recommendations in their work plans and budgets will be actively used by the local actors to promote real change in women’s lives at the local level.” She further reiterated the important role of MOFALD who will play a key role in ensuring that the guidelines are followed through at the district and village level. Gitanjali Singh, UN Women Deputy Representative for Nepal also expressed her agency’s commitment to support the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program particularly the use of the Guidelines: “UN Women is committed to taking these guidelines forward and to integrating them in all our work. The Peace Support Working Group commits to sharing these guidelines with all its partners,” she stated.

The official program was followed by an orientation session on the Guidelines with the representatives from the districts and villages who ultimately will be the ones using the Guidelines. While participants expressed enthusiasm and strong commitment to apply the document in their daily work, some questions were raised regarding budget allocation and responsibilities of various officials. GNWP and its members and partners are committed to addressing these and other issues that may arise, during the roll-out and implementation of the guidelines in the coming year.

 


Notes:

  1. 1. GNWP members: Saathi-Nepal; Institute of Human Rights Communication (IHRICON), National Women Security watch (NWSW);Sancharika Samuha; SAMANATA-Institute for Social & Gender Equality. 
  2. 2. GNWP’s Localization program was cited in the UN Secretary General’s 2012 report on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) as an important strategy that promotes implementation at sub-national and regional levels as well as an effort to integrate women and peace and security commitments in legislation, policy-making and planning processes. 

Japan develops its National Action Plan on Resolution 1325

By Mavic Cabrera Balleza

Around 80 representatives from Japanese government agencies, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, civil society organizations and academe took part in a seminar on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security held at Josai International University in Tokyo on April 20, 2013.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced at the G8 meeting in London on April 11, 2013 that the government has started its national action planning process on UNSCR 1325. In addition, Japan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, also announced at the Security Council Open Debate on April 17, 2013 that, “Japan has started developing a National Action Plan (NAP) based on Security Council Resolution 1325. We are vigorously working on the plan, which includes our commitments to further strengthen our efforts for the protection of women’s rights in humanitarian settings. We hope to complete the plan, in close consultation with UN organizations such as UN Women as well as civil society, as soon as possible.”

The April 20th seminar in Tokyo aimed to enhance the level of awareness and knowledge of UNSCR 1325, 1820 among Japanese civil society and other stakeholders in order for them to meaningfully participate in the ongoing UNSCR 1325 national action planning process in the country. “It is critical that we have a thorough understanding of UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the supporting resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. The space these resolutions opened may be a contradictory one for many women’s groups and civil society organizations in Japan. We can learn many lessons from the National Action Plans of other countries, making Japan’s lateness in participating into an advantage. It is, therefore, very important that we actively participate in developing and implementing Japan’s national action plan on UNSCR 1325” Professor Fumika Sato of Hitotsubashi University commented.

The seminar included discussions on the history of UNSCR 1325, its key provisions and commitments; strengths and weaknesses; models and level of implementation; and the supporting resolutions on WPS – UNSCR 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960. In addition, the seminar also covered experiences in national action planning processes from different countries. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, the International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a coalition of women’s organizations and civil society groups advocating for the full and effective implementation of UNSCR 1325 with headquarters in New York served as resource person for the seminar.

The organizers of the seminar were the Japan Women’s Watch (JAWW) and the Institute of Gender and Women’s Studies at Josai International University.

GNWP welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of CSW57

By Afifa Faisal

After months of relentless lobbying efforts and two weeks of intense deliberations, the Agreed Conclusions, the outcome document of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), was adopted with consensus on 15 March 2013. The adoption of the Agreed Conclusions was celebrated by women’s rights organizations around the world, and government delegations and UN representatives who support their views. Its adoption by member states was of particular significance this year after last year’s CSW failed to produce an outcome document.

With the priority theme of elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, CSW57 was one of the most highly attended sessions in recent history. Thousands of women’s rights advocates and organizations from around the world gathered in New York to participate in hundreds of side events organized during the two-week-long session. However, despite the seemingly unified commitment to end violence against women and girls, the process was very challenging with a broad range of political interests and agendas impeding the negotiations. A number of contentious issues were voiced by member states during the lengthy informal consultations, with language on sexual and reproductive health and rights, custom, tradition and religion, and peace and security among the most intensely debated.

Women’s rights organizations struggled, but ultimately succeeded in lobbying for language on the linkage between violence against women and peace and security, women human rights defenders, sexual and reproductive health, and small arms and light weapons. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) welcomes the following inclusion of language on women, peace and security within the adopted Agreed Conclusions of CSW57:

The Commission recalls Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000, 1820 (2008) of 19 June 2008, 1888 (2009) of 30 September 2009, 1889 (2009) of 5 October 2009 and 1960 (2010) of 16 December 2010 on women and peace and security and all relevant Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, including resolutions 1882 (2009) of 4 August 2009 and 1998 (2011) of 12 July 2011 on armed conflict and post-conflict situations. [PP8]

 

The Commission urges States to strongly condemn violence against women and girls committed in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, and recognizes that sexual and gender-based violence affects victims and survivors, families, communities and societies, and calls for effective measures of accountability and redress as well as effective remedies. [PP13]

 

The Commission also recognizes the persistence of obstacles that remain for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, and that the prevention and response to such violence requires States to act, at all levels, at each and every opportunity in a comprehensive and holistic manner that recognizes the linkages between violence against women and girls and other issues, such as education, health, HIV and AIDS, poverty eradication, food security, peace and security, humanitarian assistance and crime prevention. [PP20]

 

The Commission recognizes that illicit use of and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons aggravates violence, inter alia, against women and girls. [PP25]

 

Ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations the prevention of and response to all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, are prioritized and effectively addressed, including as appropriate through the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators to end impunity, removal of barriers to women’s access to justice, the establishment of complaint and reporting mechanisms, the provision of support to victims and survivors, affordable and accessible health care services, including sexual and reproductive health, and reintegration measures; and take steps to increase women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes and post-conflict decision making. [PP34l]

 

Ensure accountability for the killing, maiming and targeting of women and girls and crimes of sexual violence, as prohibited under international law, stressing the need for the exclusion of such crimes from amnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes and address such acts in all stages of the armed-conflict and post-conflict resolution process including through transitional justice mechanisms, while taking steps to ensure the full and effective participation of women in such processes. [PP34m]

 

Underline commitments to strengthen national efforts, including with the support of international cooperation, aimed at addressing the rights and needs of women and girls affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts, other complex humanitarian emergencies, trafficking in persons and terrorism, within the context of actions geared to addressing and eliminating violence against women and girls and the realization of the internationally agreed goals and commitments related to gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the Millennium Development Goals. [PP34p]

 

Support and protect those who are committed to eliminating violence against women, including women human rights defenders in this regard, who face particular risks of violence. [PP34z]

 

The Commission emphasizes that ending violence against women and girls is imperative, including for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and must be a priority for the eradication of poverty, the achievement of inclusive sustainable development, peace and security, human rights, health, gender equality and empowerment of women, sustainable and inclusive economic growth and social cohesion, and vice versa. [PP35]

 

Throughout the CSW57 negotiations, GNWP played a substantive role in ensuring that women, peace and security issues were addressed in the outcome document. It co-sponsored a number of events which set the tone for advocacy by identifying the challenges faced by women in conflict and post-conflict situations and presenting recommendations to address these issues.

At the panel on “UN Security Council Resolution #1325 – What lies ahead?, co-sponsored with the Permanent Missions of Armenia and Estonia to the UN, GNWP International Coordinator Mavic Cabrera-Balleza spoke about how the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 has become an effective strategy in ensuring the implementation of National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325 and 1820, particularly in local communities directly affected by conflict. During the panel discussion on countering violent extremism, GNWP emphasized the vital role of women in conflict prevention and peace building at both the informal and grassroots and official and national levels. In another event on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Latin America, GNWP in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN, shared how the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program in Colombia serves as an alternative mechanism in a country where there is no National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and 1820. In a panel discussion on the use of media to combat violence against women, co-sponsored with Fork Films, Peace is Loud, World YWCA and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, GNWP stressed the need for women to reclaim the media and produce and distribute media materials that would serve grassroots women’s interests.

At the official negotiations, the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN introduced the language on the illicit use of and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. With support from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), the language was retained. GNWP provided the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN with the details on this issue .

In addition to organizing several side events, GNWP co-facilitated the Conversation Circle (thematic caucus) on Peace and Security / Violence against Women. This was a significant lobbying opportunity for identifying and recommending additional women, peace and security language that should be included in the Agreed Conclusions. GNWP, in collaboration with like-minded organizations, reviewed past Agreed Conclusions as well as relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, and shared their language inputs with the nearly 100 women peace activists and women human rights defenders who attended the conversation circle. As a result, GNWP significantly influenced the Agreed Conclusions from the women, peace and security perspective.

While the Agreed Conclusions of CSW57, particularly its inclusion and emphasis on women, peace and security, is an important step in ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Agreed Conclusions were not as strong and outcome-oriented as GNWP would have liked. For example, the insertion of the word “recalls” in place of “reaffirms” for Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960 weakens the language on women, peace and security within the Agreed Conclusions. This calls for strengthening efforts to support advocacy and action for the implementation of Security Council resolutions on women and peace and security at the local, national, regional and international levels.

Following the conclusion of the CSW57, GNWP is in the process of drafting a statement that will contain its reflections and recommendations for a better and stronger CSW.

Congolese women meet with Ms. Robinson – the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region

By Selam Tesfaye

On April 29, 2013, women groups and organizations, including GNWP’s member Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), met with Ms. Mary Robinson in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to discuss the attainment of genuine and sustainable peace throughout the DRC and the Great Lakes Region.

Ms. Robinson was appointed as the new Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa in March 2013 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She has served as the President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and has more than four decades of political and diplomatic experience, including as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002. She is expected to play a key role in supporting the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) for the DRC and the Great Lakes region, signed by Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), the DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia in February 2013 with the aim to stabilize the situation in the DRC.

During her first visit to the DRC as the Special Envoy, Ms. Robinson met with President Kabila, Minister of Foreign Affairs, civil society organizations and religious groups. The meeting with civil society organizations was opened by Mr. Roger A. Meece, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Civil society organizations presented their demands and concerns regarding the implementation of the PSCF, which included five components: sensitization on the population on the framework; mainstreaming of gender issues in the implementation with a special emphasis on the protection of civilians; security sector reform; setting up of DDR programs for ex-combatants; and the promotion and development of gender sensitive benchmarks in the monitoring and evaluation of progress in the implementation of the PSCF. They were also able to brief Ms. Robinson on the outcomes of the  Women’s Peace Dialogue organized by GNWP and CAFCO in April 2013 and present the outcome document of this initiative.

Ms. Robinson began by thanking women’s rights organizations for their work despite the situation of instability and insecurity within the DRC. She stated that the PSCF is a glimmer of hope for achieving stability in the DRC and the Great Lakes region. She stressed the need for the signatories to do what they have committed to do within the agreement and noted that civil societies should play an important role in holding the signatories accountable. She also pointed out that based on her discussion with the President of the Republic, there will soon be a national monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the framework and she encouraged women’s participation in the implementation processes of the framework. She promised to create platforms for women to come together and discuss their concerns. She also encouraged women to participate in the upcoming meeting on June 24 in Bujumbura, Burundi planned for the discussion of the UNSCR 1325 regional plan for the Great Lakes region. She concluded by urging women to work together for a sustainable solution in the Great Lakes region.

Ms. Robinson will be continuing on to Rwanda and Burundi.

 

Meeting with insurgent groups is the best option to resolve conflict in eastern DRC, says Women’s Peace Delegation

By Eleonore Veillet Chowdhury

Based on the Women’s Peace Dialogue and the Women’s Peace Delegation advocacy efforts in Kinshasa, members of the Women’s Peace Delegation have concluded that it is imperative to speak directly with the different insurgent groups active in eastern DRC. Since mass rapes continue and women are systematically excluded from peace negotiations including the one with the armed group M23, women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and the prevention and protection of women from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence will be among the topics addressed in open dialogues with insurgent groups. The Women’s Peace Delegation has tasked Ms. Miria Matembe—a member of the Delegation, former Vice-President and former Member of Parliament of Uganda—with reaching out to Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda’s Minister of Defense and facilitator in the peace negotiations between the government and the M23, to arrange meetings of the Women’s Peace Delegation with insurgent groups.

The Women’s Peace Delegation has also agreed that it is urgent to speak more directly with women and women’s civil society organizations in the areas most affected by conflict, namely North Kivu, South Kivu and Province Orientale. The Women’s Peace Dialogue in Kinshasa and subsequent meetings in the nation’s capital revealed that there is a strong disconnect between women’s plight in the capital city and that of women in the east, as the repercussions of conflict are not directly felt in Kinshasa. Direct engagement with local women and local women’s groups would allow for better assessment of the situation and, as a result, for more effective and informed advocacy strategies. In addition, women’s CSOs in the east understand the context and have taken on the responsibility of caring for victims and of sensitizing local communities on Women, Peace and Security resolutions such as Resolutions 1325 and 1820. Furthermore, these CSOs have the connections to meet or organize meetings with local government actors as well as different insurgent groups in the region.

While preparations for these meetings are underway, the members of the Women’s Peace Delegation continue to widely circulate the Kinshasa Call to Action among key stakeholders, within DRC as well as in the Great Lakes region, all of Africa and the world at large. They will be sharing the Kinshasa Call to Action with Mr. Roger Meece, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Ms. Mary Robinson, Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region. Now that the members of the Women’s Peace Delegation from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia have returned to their respective countries, they are lobbying and will continue lobby their government and policy makers for the implementation of the demands made in the Kinshasa Call to Action.

The Women’s Peace Delegation consisted of Ms. Rose Mutombo Kiese, President of Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO-DRC); Ms. Annie Matundu Mbambi, President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF-DRC); Ms. Justine Masika, Coordinator of Synergie de Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (DRC); Ms. Miria Matembe, former Vice President and former Member of Parliament (Uganda); Hon. Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, Member of Parliament (Rwanda); Ms. Catherine Mabobori, Spokesperson for the 1st Vice President; former Member of Parliament (Burundi); Ms. Nana Pratt, Coordinator, National Organization of Women (Sierra Leone); Ms. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, Establishment Coordinator, Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security (Liberia); Ms. Robinah Rubimbwa, CEWIGO Executive Director (Uganda); and Ms. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (Philippines/USA).

The Women’s Peace Dialogue was facilitated by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolese (CAFCO) in partnership with WILPF-DRC, Réseau Femme et Développement and the African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh)-DRC.


Women Leaders and Peacebuilders Say Enough to Sexual Violence in the DRC!

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders co-facilitated a Women’s Peace Dialogue and Women’s Peace Delegation with its member organizations Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), from April 5-6, 2013 in Kinshasa, DRC. Women leaders, peacebuilders and human rights activists from the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, met and came up with the Kinshasa Call to Action – an outcome document of the dialogue with a list of specific demands targeted at the DRC government, member countries of the African Union and signatories to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, UN agencies, the donor community, as well as civil society – to appeal to various key actors on issues of Women, Peace and Security.

The delegation met with the Minister of Gender, the Minister of Justice, MONUSCO, UN Women, UNDP, and representatives of religious leaders and emphasized the urgency of taking concrete actions to resolve the conflict in DRC and in the Great Lakes region. During these meetings positive initiatives such as the new Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework signed by 11 African states on February 24, 2013 as well as the ongoing peace negotiations between the government of the DRC and M23 under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) that is being facilitated by the Ugandan government were highlighted. Participants also appreciated the recent appointment of Ms. Mary Robinson as the Special Envoy to the region as well as the communiqué signed by the DRC Prime Minister and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Ms. Zainab Bangura after her recent visit to the country. All of these endeavors are timely and if implemented effectively will be able to achieve tangible results.

However, concerns were raised in relation to the rise of incidence of violence against women, in particular mass rapes despite numerous efforts and resources spent on securing peace and stability in DRC and the Great Lakes Region. Members of the delegation were astounded with the recent news of the rape of more than 200 women in Orientale province, just a few days after Ms. Bangura’s visit. They raised these concerns in the various meetings with government officials and UN agencies and were met with the same answer: the situation is complicated and that the incidences are happening in areas outside the control of the government.

In all the delegation’s meetings, it was repeatedly stated that the government is fully committed to eliminating sexual violence in the country and that it has adopted various strategies that will enable it to do so. Among these are the National Gender Policy of 2009 and the National Strategy to Fight Sexual, Gender based Violence in 2010 and the setting up of the humanitarian assistance corridor that has benefited many women to get access to services. Yet, the numbers show otherwise. A the presentation made by a representative from the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children during the Women’s Peace Dialogue revealed that 67% of sexual violence in the DRC is in fact committed by the military while 33% is by the civilian population. Additionally, more than 52% of women in the DRC have been victims of sexual violence just in the last two decades. What is being done about this? Aside from the few measures taken such as the stripping of soldiers’ titles in front of their peers, perpetrators are still free due to the lack of adequate justice mechanisms. Impunity also perpetuates the rise of sexual violence incidences in the country.

Among the specific demands addressed to the DRC government in the Kinshasa Call to Action is ensuring the equitable development and just distribution of revenue within all regions of the DRC in terms of basic services and infrastructure. This especially resonates true for communities that produce insurgent groups in the eastern parts of the country. In order to ensure national unity and move beyond the rhetoric of armed rebellion, these communities need to be provided with basic services.

There is also a need to move away from the traditional discussions of armed conflicts and blaming rebel groups and into capacity development mechanisms for local communities especially women such as revenue generation activities. Protection and promotion of women’s rights in the DRC will also benefit in the economic productivity of the country since women comprise a majority of the population. Women should break away from the status of victimhood and claim their rights. In this regard, the government should also take national ownership of the issue and fulfill all its past and present commitments to do away with its label, “the rape capital of the world”!

Congolese Women Demand Discussions on the “Intervention Brigade” in the DRC

By Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

Congolese women and women from Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda who took part in the Women’s Peace Dialogue held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo from April 5-6, 2012 demanded discussions on the formation of the first Intervention Brigade that will operate in the eastern part of the DRC. Authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 2098, which was adopted on March 28, 2013, the Intervention Brigade will operate under orders to “neutralize” and “disarm” armed groups in the resource-rich eastern part of the country.

In the Kinshasa Call to Action, the outcome document of the Women’s Peace Dialogue, the 81 participants of the dialogue called on MONUSCO and relevant UN entities to ensure that the Intervention Brigade does not violate the rights of civilian populations especially women. Below are the other demands that the women have put forward:

  1. Facilitate discussions with women’s groups to ensure that their perspectives on UNSCR 2098 are taken into account in its implementation;
  2. Ensure that all peace keeping forces, including the Intervention Brigade, adhere to the principles of zero tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse in the execution of their mandates;
  3. Incorporate women’s concerns in the future execution of the Intervention Brigade’s mandate; and
  4. Provide gender sensitization training to security forces, national militaries, and the police.

The Women’s Peace Dialogue participants also expressed concern that the Intervention Brigade might in fact contribute to the escalation of fighting in the areas where they will operate and the risk of women and girls being targeted as a form of retaliation.

The Women’s Peace Dialogue participants also urged MONUSCO to continue to effectively monitor and report on the human rights situation and support national and international efforts to protect, promote and fulfill the human rights of Congolese people. Additionally, they called on MONUSCO, UN Women and the relevant UN entities to support the Women’s Peace Delegation’s upcoming advocacy efforts including dialogues with local leaders and insurgent groups in eastern DRC.”

Following the Women’s Peace Dialogue, the participants met with the Minister of Gender, Minister of Justice, the leaders of the inter-faith Congolese congregations and various officials from MONUSCO, UNDP, UN Women to present their demands aimed at putting an end to the violence in the DRC, particularly sexual violence. In all of these meetings, the women emphasized the need to address the root causes of the conflict in DRC and in the Great Lakes region.

The full copy of the Kinshasa Call to Action can be accessed here.

The Women’s Peace Dialogue was facilitated by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolese (CAFCO) in partnership with WILPF-DRC, Réseau Femme et Développement and the African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh)-DRC.


Opening Ceremony

By Selamawit Tesfaye

Over 80 civil society participants, government officials, and international actors gathered in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on April 5, 2013 for the Women’s Peace Dialogue (WPD). The dialogue is an initiative of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), its member organizations, including Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh)-DRC, Réseau Femme et Développement, WILPF-DRC, and other civil society partners. The Women’s Peace Delegation of prominent women leaders and activists from Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda also joined the dialogue. The main objective of the WPD is to generate concrete responses from individual governments involved in the discussions on the incidences of violence in the DRC, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the African Union and the UN Security Council.

President of CAFCO, Rose Mutombo Kiese, started off the opening ceremony by thanking all the participants for taking part in this dialogue. She then stressed the urgency for women activists to unite and act to address the unchanging situation in the DRC. The primary motive of this meeting, she explained, was to formulate specific recommendations and call upon those policymakers and other stakeholders who are involved in the conflicts to stop violence and reach a lasting peace in the country. “I invite you to focus our exchanges on specific issues, questioning what has already been done, what has yet to be done, why, and how in order to identity appropriate strategies. We can only do this is we pay attention to our common denominator – WOMEN,” she said. Ms. Kiese ended her opening remarks by thanking CAFCO’s partners who supported this project, including the GNWP, Cordaid, the Regional UN Office, and UNDP.

GNWP International Coordinator, Mavic Cabrera Balleza, gave a speech in which she talked about GNWP’s work and the objectives of the WPD. She acknowledged that there were various international policies, strategies, agreements and resolutions on the DRC. Yet, incidences of violence against women continue which she said necessitates an intervention such as the WPD. She called on the Congolese people and Congolese government leaders to take on greater responsibility and demonstrate strong leadership to fight impunity and end the rampant violence exerted on women in the country.

The DRC Representative of UN Women, Francoise Ngendahayo, made a brief statement emphasizing UN Women’s support of the initiative. Lastly, the Hon. Ministry of Gender, Family and Children, Ms. Geneviève Inagosi Bulo I. Kassongo officially opened the Women’s Peace Dialogue. She conveyed her support of the Women’s Peace Dialogue and reiterated that “all of the strategies adopted until now have not brought about results.” She stressed the need for something different and new to address the conflicts in the DRC. She also assured the participants that they could all count on the Ministry of Gender’s cooperation and assistance in follow up activities.

GNWP and its members take the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Program to the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Selamawit Tesfaye

From March 28 to April 3, 2013, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a program of the International Civil society Action Network (GNWP-ICAN) and its members, lead by Cadre Permanent de Consultation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), will hold Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 workshops in Lubumbashi and Likasi, two cities in the Katanga province in the south east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Other members include Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – DRC, Réseau Femme et Développement (REFED), and African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh) – DRC.

In these workshops, local authorities such as governors, mayors, paramount chiefs, traditional, cultural and religious leaders, women leaders, civil society representatives and other local key actors will examine the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and DRC’s National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).

Participants will identify the specific provisions of the NAP most relevant to the social and cultural context of their communities and discuss how these provisions could be integrated into their local development plans. Additionally, participants will express their personal commitments and action recommendations that they can implement immediately as they are working on their local development plans.

These workshops constitute a bottom-up approach to the implementation of the WPS resolutions, with local authorities and communities taking ownership of the implementation of the resolutions. The resolutions call for participation of women in all decision-making and peacebuilding processes, prevention of conflict, prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, protection of women and girls’ rights, and promotion of a gender-perspective on peace and security issues.

Follow-up to these workshops will include the replication of the workshops in other provinces of the DRC and the development of comprehensive guidelines to be used by local officials throughout the country to integrate Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in local development plans.

The Localization workshops have already been implemented by GNWP-ICAN and its member organizations in a number of countries, namely, Burundi, the Philippines, Nepal, Colombia, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Nepal, Burundi and Sierra Leone have now developed Guidelines for the integration of WPS resolutions in local development planning.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for blogs, pictures and Tweets on the Localization Workshops in Lubumbashi and Likasi.

GNWP-ICAN and its members in the DRC thank the Government of the UK for supporting this program.

Harmonizing the Burundi NAP on UNSCR 1325 & 1820 with Communal Development Planning Processes

By Helena Gronberg

On January 14, 2013, we set out for Cankuzo Province to hold a three-day training as part of our Localizing UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program. Bordering Tanzania, Cankuzo is one of the most remotely situated provinces of Burundi’s 17 provinces. With a population of less than 250,000 (latest estimate from 2008 census) of Burundi’s 10.5 million population (2012), Cankuzo is also one of the most scarcely populated areas, partly due to the fact that a big part of the province is allocated to a nature reserve, the Ruvubu National Park. However, apart from its dark, sweet tasting honey that you can buy by the pound, Cankuzo takes pride in having one of the highest percentages of women’s participation in the communal councils. All five communes in the province, namely Cankuzo, Gendajuru, Gisagara, Kigamba, and Mishiha, have reached the 30 percent quota. Out of the total 83 communal chiefs, however, only four are women. The Localization workshop we were to hold was the second phase of GNWP’s Localization Program in Burundi. During the opening of the workshop the Governor of Cankuzo proudly stated that he has made a point of including more women in decision making during his tenure.

GNWP’s Localization Program is a bottom-up approach to policy-making that aligns local, national and international policies, and community driven strategies, to ensure local ownership, good governance, participation and linkages between local communities, civil society organizations and government in the work around UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the supporting resolutions on women and peace and security. In his speech at the opening of the Cankuzo workshop, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning noted that, “participation of many stakeholders is crucial in the decentralization process, and that local people expect the local politicians to address their needs.”

GNWP’s Localization on UNSCR 1325 program was first piloted in Burundi in 2010 when GNWP and its members, including Women Allies Peacebuilders Network, Fountain ISOKO for Good Governance and Integrated Development, and Burundi Leadership Training Program, held the first series of Localization workshops in the Gitega and Ngozi provinces as well as the capital, Bujumbura. The participants included governors, mayors, community leaders, traditional and religious leaders, the security sector, and women leaders. The workshops served as basic awareness-raising on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the Burundi National Action Plan (NAP), which at the time was a draft waiting for adoption, as well as an opportunity to come up with specific strategies for implementation of the NAP when adopted.
One of the main recommendations of the 2010 workshops in Gitega and Ngozi was to come up with a set of guidelines for integration of the Burundi NAP and UNSCR 1325 and 1820 into communal development plans.  A document entitled Guide Pratique pour l’Intégration des Résolutions 1325 et 1820 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies dans les Plan Communaux de Développement Communautaires au Burundi was subsequently drafted by the two consultants who had served as resource persons in the 2010 workshops. With the objective to solicit concrete input from the participants on the content and usefulness of the document, the document was to be field tested in a provincial level workshop in Cankuzo and in a communal workshop in Cibitoke situated on the border to the DRC, the following week.

The workshop included a session on the notion of gender, discussions of the two resolutions and the Burundi National Action Plan on 1325 and 1820, presentations on the role of communal councils in implementation of issues of women and peace and security, and sessions on the actual guidelines.

Participants agreed that having a document that would guide local communities in the implementation of the NAP and the resolutions would be beneficial, but recommended that a shortened and more user-friendly version be made available. The necessity of translating all policy related materials into Kirundi was also highlighted repeatedly.

In addition to coming up with recommendations on how to improve the guidelines, participants made other recommendations in order to operationalize the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Guidelines. Some recommendations included putting in place committees at the colline level, including female leaders, to monitor actions taken to integrate the WPS resolutions into communal planning; forming Community and Family Development Centers with the mandate to conduct awareness raising on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the Burundi NAP; advocating for the Ministries of Finance and Planning; Interior; and National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender to prepare a joint statement inviting municipalities to incorporate in UNSCR 1325 and1820 into the communal development planning process; and including the Guideline on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 integration into the “Handbook for Municipal Planning.

The guidelines that have been endorsed by the Government (Ministry of Finance and Planning) will serve as a reference for local authorities in integrating the NAP 1325 and 1820 into community development plans. GNWP and its partners hope to be able to further field test the Guidelines in an additional three regional workshops in 2013, in order to guarantee full local ownership of the document.

GNWP and its members and partners in Burundi thank the Government of Canada for supporting the Localization Program in Burundi.

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