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Launching Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar: An important step in the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security agendas

November 20, 2020

By Mallika Iyer and Heela Yoon

Edited by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

We are not afraid to hold our government accountable. We are ready to mobilize for constitutional reform and military accountability,” expressed a young peacebuilder[1] during the “Training of Trainers” (ToT) on the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) agendas organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Yangon Youth Network, with support from Global Affairs Canada.  

With support from Global Affairs Canada, the ToT was held as a series of workshop sessions, that convened 27 young women leaders, LGBTQIA+ youth, and male gender equality allies from Yangon, Karen, Shan, Kachin, and Rakhine States between September 26 and October 24, 2020. The ToT raised awareness and knowledge about the WPS and YPS agendas among young people in Myanmar. The ToT included sessions on leadership, peacebuilding, electoral participation, economic empowerment, and the use of social media for advocacy. It also served as the official launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) in Myanmar. Coordinated by GNWP, the YWL is an international network of young women and gender equality allies who are advocating for the effective implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas in conflict-affected situations. It also works on the intersection of these agendas with humanitarian action including the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A key advocacy message for the YWL is to ensure local young women’s participation in peace and security processes and in the design and implementation of humanitarian response.   

Prior to the ToT, GNWP facilitated a virtual focus group discussion on September 12, 2020, during which young peacebuilders analyzed peace, security, and gender equality in Myanmar. They discussed barriers to their meaningful participation in peacebuilding and political decision-making; and identified the training and advocacy needed to overcome them. The focus group discussion enabled GNWP and the Yangon Youth Network to contextualize the ToT and ensure that it is tailor-fit to the needs and awareness and knowledge level of the participants.

Reflections on the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas in Myanmar

The implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions in Myanmar has been quite bleak. “It’s not enough to have a woman as the leader of our country. We need women leaders who believe in and work towards gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights,” explained one of the young women participants in the ToT. Women, particularly from historically marginalized ethnic minorities, are significantly underrepresented in political decision-making, constituting only ten percent of the seats in the National Parliament. Despite quotas for women’s participation in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the number of women meaningfully participating in the ongoing Panglong Peace Process has decreased from 21 to 11 percent over the years. Women’s civil society groups have also been largely excluded from participating in the government-run taskforce on WPS and violence against women. As a result, the Union Peace Accord fails to meet the needs of conflict-affected women and girls; nor does it include gender-responsive budgeting for the limited provisions on women’s rights.  Similarly, while youth organizations across the country have an established record of involvement in community organizing and activism, young women and LGBTQIA+ youth have very limited or no opportunities to participate in peacebuilding and political decision-making. The Government of Myanmar does not have a National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 or a roadmap on YPS. Instead, the government adopted the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (NSPAW) and a National Youth Policy, which are yet to be effectively implemented.

According to the young peacebuilders, a key challenge in the achievement of sustainable peace and gender equality is the limited awareness of the relevance and importance of the WPS and YPS resolutions amongst government, women’s rights groups, and youth organizations in Myanmar. “We need a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. It would define our priorities on peace and security in Myanmar,” a participant shared. “We could use the NAP to hold our government accountable for gender equality and human rights.” During the training, they committed to advocating for the adoption of a NAP through an inclusive drafting process. 

Full and effective implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions has never been more urgent. There are reports of continued conflict-related sexual violence amongst other human rights violations inflicted on the Rohingya despite the request for provisional measures by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requiring Myanmar to prevent its military from committing acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide. The request for provisional measures was made a result of the ongoing case filed by the Government of the Gambia concerning violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the Government of Myanmar.

During the ToT, the participants discussed the perception of the Rohingya community in Myanmar. One of the Rohingya participants said, “Intruder. Kalar[2]. Dirty. Illegal. Too many kids and wives. Immigrant. Cockroach. Ugly. Sharp nose. We, Rohingya, have been called many names except our own. Many people in Myanmar are allergic to our name.” The ToT participants also discussed the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence against other ethnic groups in the Kachin, Northern Shan, and Karen states. Human rights violations, particularly against ethnic groups, continue to occur even as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar accused the Burmese military of using the COVID-19 pandemic as “a cover to commit war crimes”.

Due to state repression against groups and individuals advocating for an end to the atrocities against the Rohingya, there is notable silence on this issue inside Myanmar. Thus, perpetrators within the government and military continue to enjoy impunity. Nonetheless, the young women leaders and gender equality allies bravely declared: “We need to respect and recognize the rights of ethnic groups in Myanmar. We are ready to fight for peace now—not later.” The ToT was one of the few discussions about the Rohingya genocide and the ongoing ICJ case amongst young peacebuilders in Myanmar. The members of the Young Women Leaders network highlighted the need for accessible global and regional mechanisms and platforms to condemn and demand accountability from their government for the Rohingya genocide and effective implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions.

The young peacebuilders also identified electoral participation as a key strategy to demand accountability for gender equality, human rights, and sustainable peace from political decision-makers.  But while the Union Election Commission’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy and Action  Plan encourages political parties to increase the membership of women, the actual numbers of women politicians are much lower. “It’s hard to change things if we are not part of the system. If we want more women in peace processes, we need to elect more women politicians. Most political party leaders are currently men.” a participant explained. The ToT participants also shared their perspectives on the barriers to political participation with some young women candidates prior to the national elections on November 8, 2020[3] from the Democratic Party for New Society and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy. A young woman politician described some of the challenges she experienced in campaigning: “I face so many threats, with people monitoring my social media accounts and attacking my gender identity and sexual orientation. I’m thought to have no knowledge or experience. I am sexualized in the media. Men in my constituency try to shame and silence me. I need the support of a sisterhood of young women peacebuilders who believe in me. I am brave. I am dedicated to the cause. That’s why I won’t step down.” During the training, the young peacebuilders developed initiatives to generate support in their communities for politicians who promote gender equality and peace. These include social media campaigns to amplify their messages and counter fake news and mentorship schemes between seasoned and younger politicians in communities.  

Ultimately, the online workshops established a network of Young Women Leaders, supported by gender equality allies and LGBTQIA+ youth, who will meaningfully participate in, influence, and lead community-based peacebuilding, and advocacy for the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions, human rights, and an immediate cessation of armed conflict and violence. The Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar are ready to get to work! The active participation of young women leaders, LGBTQIA youth and gender equality allies in the focus group discussion and the ToT; as well as the establishment of the Young Women Leaders – Myanmar are all indicators of success in advancing the WPS and YPS agendas in this country. They represent a sign of hope in a country where independent civil society voices have been re


[1] Names have been redacted to protect youth peacebuilders.  

[2] “Kalar” is a racist term to describe a person of Indian heritage in Myanmar.

[3] There is still no available gender and age disaggregated data on the full results of the elections on November 8, 2020. GNWP and the Yangon Youth Network are closely monitoring the results as part of our efforts to hold elected officials accountable to laws and policies on human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, gender equality, and peace and security.

Taking Women, Peace and Security beyond 2020: It’s time to listen to women peacebuilders!

November 19, 2020 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

“You need to take risks for peace to build peace! I was struck by the severity of the challenges the report [produced by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders with support from the Government of Ireland and UN Women] revealed. It makes it clear that there is a need for structural change to enable inclusive and sustainable peace.”

H.E. Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders and former President of the Republic of Ireland

The global momentum generated by the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) on October 31st, 2020, was much anticipated. At the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) we began preparing more than a year prior to this milestone moment. We discussed and strategized with our national and local partners, and produced concrete recommendations, research and strategies. We spearheaded advocacy to ensure meaningful integration of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) in the preparations for the commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action. We worked with our colleagues at the NGO Working Group on WPS to develop a Civil Society Roadmap on WPS. The question that guided us in all this was: How do we accelerate implementation, and ensure that commitments made during this momentous year do not remain empty words, but translate into concrete actions beyond 2020? To us, it was clear that the 20th Anniversary of the landmark Resolution 1325 – a resolution that was conceived of and drafted by women peacebuilders – needs to be a moment of awakening and radical re-commitment, rather than merely celebration.

So, from Armenia to South Africa, from Colombia to South Sudan, from the Philippines to Ukraine, women peacebuilders discussed, planned and prepared. But for all the foresight that went into the 20th Anniversary, none of us expected that it will happen the way it did. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated many of the challenges and barriers faced by women peacebuilders around the world. It also set the stage for the first virtual Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and Open Debate on WPS.

At the same time, COVID-19 has also underscored the resilience of women peacebuilders and the feminist and women’s movements around the world. Throughout the pandemic, we remained connected, despite the gendered digital gap, which leaves many women without access to the internet. We maintained high levels of coordination and continued our advocacy for effective implementation of UNSCR 1325. Throughout the month of October, women peacebuilders, separated by distance and time difference, have found ways to connect – gathering in small groups in offices with internet access to attend virtual events, purchasing mobile phones and mobile credit to stay in touch, creating social media hashtags and campaigns.

The strength of solidarity and sisterhood in the face of the pandemic was, to me, one of the defining features of this year, and the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325.

The unparalleled ability of women peacebuilders to adapt and innovate in the face of crisis and uncertainty once again underscores that they are the leaders and pioneers in building and sustaining peace.

It was in this spirit that on October 26, 2020, just a few days ahead of the Open Debate on WPS, GNWP, the Government of Ireland and UN Women organized a high-level event “Learning from Grassroots Women Peacebuilders: Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda Beyond 2020”. The event brought together women peacebuilders from Colombia, Northern Ireland and Uganda, as well as the representatives of governments and the UN. It was designed to provide the women peacebuilders to share their experiences, perspectives and recommendations for action with key policy- and decision-makers ahead of the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325. As Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GNWP underlined in her remarks during the event, “it is the time for the international community to talk less, and instead listen more and learn from women peacebuilders.”  

Taking WPS beyond 2020: What do women peacebuilders have to say?

During the event, Beatriz Quintero, Executive Director of the Red Nacional de Mujeres in Colombia, Elizabeth Law, Chair of the Northern Irish European Women’s Platform and Rebecca (Becky) Turyatunga Juna, a young activist from Uganda, reflected on the key challenges to the full and effective implementation of the WPS resolutions, and the way in which COVID-19 has affected it. Their recommendations reflected those from the report commissioned by Ireland, and prepared by GNWP with support from UN Women.

The research, and the interventions of Beatriz, Elizabeth and Becky underscored many recurring themes on the implementation gaps that have been identified in previous years. At the same, they also identified innovative ways forward and locally-driven solutions that need to be recognized, amplified and replicated, particularly in the context of COVID-19 recovery.

Here is what women peacebuilders have to say:

1. It’s time to move from words to action!

Women peacebuilders who participated in the research carried out by GNWP agreed that the legal and normative framework on WPS at the global level is strong and sufficient. They called for translating the existing global laws into local languages, and into concrete policies and actions at the national and local levels. They emphasized the importance of adopting National Action Plans (NAPs), which allow the civil society to hold their government accountable for their WPS commitments. To date, 85 out of the 193 UN Member States adopted NAPs on WPS. However, only 24% of NAPs had dedicated budgets at adoption. Women peacebuilders interviewed by GNWP urgently called for an increased commitment to, and investment in, NAPs – including through the use of localization of UNSCR 1325 as a key implementation strategy.

In line with this call, Beatriz Quintero reminded participants of the high-level event that full implementation of UNSCR 1325 and gender provisions in peace agreements is necessary to build a more stable and secure world. She warned that COVID-19 has been used as an excuse to slow down the implementation and divert funding away from women-led peacebuilding and the implementation of the peace agreement.

2. Peace is more than an absence of war – to sustain it, we need to change our global culture!

To women peacebuilders, peace is more than an absence of war. When GNWP asked 1,600 women and men across 50 countries “What does peace mean to you?” in a research conducted in 2018 with support from UN Women, their responses painted a holistic, human-centric vision of peace. Peace means living without fear in one’s own home. Peace means having a say in decisions about one’s future. Peace means all girls – including those living in marginalized communities, refugee and IDP girls – being able to go to, and graduate from, school.

This year these words ring particularly true. Elizabeth Law warned that as security risks and tensions within communities rise during the pandemic, it is necessary to ensure delivery of basic services, address trauma and mental health issues, and consolidate the human rights framework. This is the only way to guarantee sustainable peace. Women are already doing this, she stressed. They have mobilized to address the needs of their communities and respond to increased tensions and reduced safety. But they remain excluded from decision-making!

If COVID-19 made one thing clear, it’s that weapons do not make us safer.

Military responses are not successful in staving off the deadly pandemic. Today more than ever, peace means more than an absence of war. It means having access to protective equipment, quality healthcare, including mental health services, and a safe space to turn to if one faces violence at home. 

3. Women’s exclusion is not an accident – structural barriers hinder meaningful participation!

Law, Quintero and Juna all emphasized the exclusion of women from peace negotiations and decision-making, including on peace and security and COVID-19 response and recovery.

Women who participated in research and consultations across Colombia, Northern Ireland highlighted that the exclusion is systematic and deeply rooted in cultures and institutions. In a similar vein, Beatriz stressed that in Colombia, “pre-existing inequalities and the patriarchal system mean that women, ethnic minorities and lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19”, yet they are not included in official discussions about pandemic response and recovery.

Becky highlighted the importance of the digital divide as a barrier to women’s participation. Globally, women are 23 percent less likely than men to use mobile internet. Becky was able to join the discussion, because she borrowed a smartphone from a friend, and had her mobile data purchased by organizers. “But what about women in rural settings who do not have access to a smartphone?” – she asked poignantly.

Patriarchal systems, unequal access to technology, education and economic opportunities, and over-militarized cultures that render women’s contributions to peace invisible are all at the root of their exclusion. Addressing it requires a systemic change.


Over 20 years ago, women peacebuilders made history, by drafting a UN Security Council Resolution that formally recognized that women’s “equal participation and full involvement” as essential to “all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.” As we enter the 21st year of the ground-breaking WPS agenda, women peacebuilder’s message is clear: we need deep, structural changes to create a culture more conducive to women’s meaningful participation in peace and security processes at all levels.

Such systemic and cultural changes can only take place if women from all walks of life have a seat at the table and equal say in all decisions. This requires investment in addressing the persistent barriers to participation, including violence and the threat of violence, lack of financial independence, and restrictive societal norms. The road to full and effective implementation of the WPS agenda still faces many challenges. But women peacebuilders have the solutions. It is time we listened to them.

Reflecting on the achievements, calling for more action! How did GNWP commemorate 20 Years of Resolution 1325?

November 16, 2020

October 2020 marked a critical milestone for women peacebuilders: the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Resolution 1325. To us at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), it was a time to reflect on achievements to date and persistent barriers, strengthen our advocacy, and do what we do best: amplify women’s voices for sustainable and inclusive peace.

Throughout the month of October, we hosted a number of events, which brought together women peacebuilders working at local, national, regional and global levels, with representatives of UN Member States, international and regional organizations, academia and other stakeholders.

Our events reached over 1,500 people from 50 countries. Read more about the discussions we held below!


Beijing+25: Is the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action Fit for Purpose? Civil Society Perspectives and Recommendations Ahead of the Generation Equality Forum | October 8, 2020

GNWP kicked off the busy month with this event, which we organized on behalf of the civil society-led Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) Coalition, in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. This virtual panel discussion raised awareness of the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). As a dedicated outcome of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the Compact on WPS-HA will serve as “a connector between the existing WPS-HA normative frameworks” to realize commitments. It presents a defining opportunity to increase the meaningful participation of women, young women, adolescent girls, and gender non-conforming individuals from conflict and crisis-affected areas in decision-making at all levels on peace, security, humanitarian action, and gender equality.

Convening over 200 representatives from Member States, civil society, and UN entities, the event created space for grassroots women and youth peacebuilders and frontline responders from Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela, France, Uganda, Nepal, and Fiji to share their recommendations, priorities, and hopes for the Compact with the Generation Equality Forum Core Group stakeholders (UN Women, Mexico, and France). All panelists, including Mexican Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro, French Ambassador Delphine O who serves as the  Secretary-General of the Generation Equality Forum 2021, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Åsa Regnér, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the UN, Ambassador Victoria Sulimani, and the Libyan youth activist, Hajer Shareif, emphasized the urgent need for strengthening accountability, mobilizing funding for, and accelerating implementation of existing commitments on WPS, YPS, and Humanitarian Action. At a time when women—including young women—and youth continue to be excluded from peace and security processes, political decision-making, and COVID-19 response and recovery taskforces, and attacks against women and youth human rights defenders and peace activists increase, the Compact presents an important arena through which civil society, Member States, and UN entities can work together to promote sustainable peace and gender equality.

View event recording here.

#WPSHACompact | #GenerationEquality


Women Peacebuilders & First Responders Define Priorities for Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding & COVID-19 Recovery in 2020 & Beyond |October 15, 2020

In partnership with the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) and the Austrian Development Cooperation, GNWP held a panel discussion, which built on the recommendations of the Global Women’s Forum for Peace & Humanitarian Action (GWF 2020) in Vienna, Austria on February 19-20, 2020. The concrete policy recommendations formulated during the forum were included in the Vienna 2020 Declaration.

The panel discussion, held virtually on October 15, 2020, brought together women peacebuilders and first responders from Georgia, Kenya and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), who participated in the GWF 2020, to share the key recommendations from the Vienna 2020 Declaration. The panelists reflected on the increased urgency of these recommendations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Julia Kharashvili, the speaker from Georgia noted, COVID-19 had multilayered impacts. It influenced women’s physical health, psychological wellbeing, and their security. She emphasized the vulnerability of the internally displaced persons during the pandemic, and the new threats faced by women leaders and peacebuilders – including online harassment and cyberbullying. Mercy Jerop from Kenya highlighted the leadership of women and youth in addressing the pandemic, and in promoting the WPS agenda. She pointed out  that in Kenya women and young women have been the key drivers behind the development of the country’s National Action Plan; yet, their work is often unrecognized. She called for media organizations to increase the portrayal of women as leaders and peacebuilders, rather than only helpless victims. Amal Tarazi, the speaker from OPT stressed the importance of economic empowerment as a pre-requisite for sustainable peace, and a key factor that enables women to meaningfully participate in decision-making. A key call from all speakers was: there is a need for more predictable, sustainable, and flexible funding to support women-led peacebuilding work! It is a requisite for ensuring effective implementation of the WPS agenda.

View event recording here.

#WPSin2020 | #GWF2020


Ensuring Feminist and Localized Humanitarian Emergency Response: Where Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action Meet | October 19, 2020

In partnership with UN Women, the WPHF, Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Permanent Missions of Canada and Norway to the United Nations, GNWP organized a virtual roundtable discussion to examine the linkages between peacebuilding, sustainable development, and humanitarian action. A resounding message from the event was: the WPS agenda is a critical instrument that brings both a gender and a conflict lens to humanitarian action. Grassroots women and youth peacebuilders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Uganda – countries in the midst of the world’s most severe refugee crises and armed conflicts – highlighted their critical contributions to humanitarian action and peacebuilding. They advocated for increased recognition and investment in their work. They also called for the full and effective implementation of the WPS, which intersects with, and reinforces, humanitarian action frameworks. 

Representatives from the UN Women’s Humanitarian Research and Innovation Division, WPHF, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Gender Unit provided guidance on operationalizing the humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus. Effectively bridging the gaps between humanitarian action, gender equality and peacebuilding requires investing in the capacities of local actors, particularly women’s rights organizations. It also requires strengthening national systems to implement effective and empowering humanitarian emergency response rooted in the human security framework. Ms. Krista House, Deputy Director of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program at Global Affairs Canada, and Ms. Hilde Salvesen, Policy Director for Humanitarian Affairs at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared their perspectives as donors for humanitarian action and WPS implementation, emphasizing their commitments to increasing funding for gender-sensitive crisis response and recovery and the meaningful participation of grassroots women and youth peacebuilders in the design and implementation of humanitarian action.

GNWP responds to immediate crises, while helping to shape sustainable recovery for communities affected by conflict, humanitarian emergencies, pandemic, and natural disasters. Learn more about GNWP’s work on humanitarian action: https://gnwp.org/what-we-do/gender-inclusive-humanitarian-response/.

View event recording here.

#WPSin2020


Peacebuilding during a Pandemic: Launch of the COVID-19 and WPS Database | October 21, 2020

In partnership with UN Women and the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, GNWP hosted a virtual panel for the launch of a Database on COVID-19 and its impacts on Women, Peace and Security. The COVID-19 and WPS Database documents a number of different impacts and responses with 30 sub-categories divided under 5 main brackets: (1) impact of COVID-19 on women and gender equality; (2) impact of COVID-19 on women’s rights and peacebuilding organizations; (3) impact of COVID-19 on peace and security; (4) women-led humanitarian response to COVID-19; and (5) women-led peacebuilding and conflict prevention during the pandemic. 

Recognizing the context-specific nature of pre-existing inequalities exacerbated by the concurrent health, humanitarian, socio-political and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 at the country-level, GNWP built the database on interviews, consultations and written contributions received by its partners – local and national women peacebuilders. The virtual panel discussion featured some of the grassroots experts, who have contributed to the development of the database. Each of them brought a unique perspective, informed by their experiences as first responders in the pandemic.

Dr. Roopa Dhatt, a medical practitioner from the United States of America and the chair of Women in Global Health emphasized the importance of women’s unpaid work, and the vast contributions women in public health. Sally Maforchi Mboumien Ndeh, director of COMAGEND organization from Cameroon shared women’s advocacy for an effective ceasefire in the country, emphasizing that while peace is more than an absence of war, the continued fighting exacerbates the health and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19. Dieketseng Diale, Chief Executive Officer of the Lady of Peace Community Foundation in South Africa focused on women’s resilience in the time of crisis. She shared how women peacebuilders have continued to communicate on WhatsApp, holding weekly discussions to share issues of violence and insecurity in their communities, jointly identify their roots and develop concrete strategies to address them. Finally, Helen M. Rojas, Chief of Staff of the Chair of the Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women from the Philippines shared how the local government in the conflict-affected Bangsamoro Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has taken steps towards institutionalizing a gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response and recovery, by integrating measures to address the pandemic in the Regional Action Plan on WPS. Overall, the stories shared by the panelists highlighted women’s resilience agency and transformative leadership in response to COVID-19. They called for meaningful inclusion of women in COVID-19 task forces and committees, increasing funding for women peacebuilders who are at the frontlines of pandemic response, and basing COVID-19 recovery on a recognition and appreciation of the unpaid care work done by women around the world.

View event recording here.

#WPSin2020


Learning from Grassroots Women Peacebuilders: Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda Beyond 2020 | October 26, 2020

In partnership with the Government of Ireland, UN Women, and the Governments of South Africa, Uganda, and Colombia, GNWP held a high-level side event, which showcased local women peacebuilders’ perspectives and priorities for advancing the WPS agenda beyond its 20th Anniversary. The event served as a launch of a report commissioned by the Government of Ireland and produced by GNWP with support from UN Women. The report presents local women’s unique perspectives and innovative recommendations on what is needed to strengthen the implementation of the WPS agenda. Her Excellency Mary Robinson, the Chair of The Elders and Former President of Ireland delivered a keynote address during the event, during which she emphasized the need for a “structural change to enable inclusive and sustainable peace”, made clear in the report. H.E. Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of Ireland and H. E. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women’s Executive Director also delivered remarks reinforcing the report’s recommendations.

The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, during which women peacebuilders from Colombia, Northern Ireland and Uganda shared their perspectives. Elizabeth Law, the chair of the Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform underlined that COVID-19 has aggravated some of the conflict dynamics in the country, but that gender and peacebuilding perspectives were not reflected in the COVID-19 response. Citing one of the women peacebuilders who contributed to the report, she reflected that exclusion of women from decision-making – especially on peace and security – “is not an accident; it is an aspiration.” Rebecca Turyatunga Juna, a young peacebuilder from Uganda emphasized the importance of inclusion of young women, especially those living in rural or remote areas, in WPS planning and implementation. Building on the findings of the research, which highlighted Localization as a key implementation strategy, she also added that young women must be given access to global spaces. The digital divide is a major barrier that has to be addressed, she said. “I was able to borrow a smartphone to join you today. But what about women in rural settings who do not have access to a smartphone?” Beatriz Quintero, the Executive Director of the Red Nacional de Mujeres (National Women’s Network) in Colombia also agreed that broad-base inclusion is the most important next frontier to move the implementation of the WPS agenda forward. She stressed that preexisting inequalities and the patriarchal system mean that women, ethnic minorities and lesbian, bay and transgender persons have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. They need to be included in the planning for recovery – as well as in WPS implementation!

GNWP’s Chief Executive Officer Mavic Cabrera-Balleza underscored that many of the recommendations put forth by the women peacebuilders are not new. But they take on a renewed urgency in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women peacebuilders have concrete ideas on how to fulfil those recommendations. “The good practices and locally-driven solutions presented by local women peacebuilders need to be recognized, supported, amplified and replicated. It is the time for the international community to talk less, and instead listen more and learn from women peacebuilders,” she strongly emphasized.

The powerful remarks of women peacebuilders were intertwined with interventions from Member State representatives. This allowed for an exchange of perspectives and a much needed reality check on the status of WP implementation.

View event recording here.

#WPSin2020 | #PeaceCannotWait | #WomenPeacePower

Sexual and reproductive rights are a pre-requisite of sustainable peace and WPS implementation! GNWP stands in solidarity with the Women’s Strike in Poland.

November 4, 2020

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) stands in solidarity with thousands of protesters in Poland calling for the respect for women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

Thousands have taken to the streets following the ruling of the Poland’s Constitutional Court on 22 October 2020 that abortion in cases of severe fetal defects is “unconstitutional”. The decision follows controversial reforms of the country’s judiciary, which international observers feared would affect the Court’s independence and “undermine rule of law”. The latest ruling further restricts Poland’s abortion law – which was already among the most restrictive in Europe. During the biggest protest day on Friday, 30 October, the police estimated that 430,000 women and men marched in 400 demonstrations across the country – from small towns to major cities.

Guaranteeing full sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a key element of a “survivor-centered” approach to sexual violence stipulated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2467 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has also made it clear that full access to SRHR is a “prerequisite for safeguarding women’s human rights”. At GNWP, we believe that SRHR is an essential element of the implementation of WPS resolutions and a necessary element of sustainable peace. Poland is a Member State of the UN, has a National Action Plan on WPS, and has also ratified CEDAW. It has an obligation to respect, protect and promote women’s human rights including sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters in Poland, and call on the Polish Government to listen to their demands, in particular:

  • the call for guaranteeing full scope of reproductive rights, including access to safe abortion, free contraception and high standards of maternal healthcare.
  • the call for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
  • the call to improve women’s economic situation, including by valuing women’s care work and closing the gender pay gap; and
  • the call to ensure the rule of law and respect for human rights of all in the country.

We also express deep concern about the reports of police brutality towards the peaceful protests. The use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests, and deployment of riot police to meet the protesters are uncalled for and are a violation of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We call on the Polish police force to respect and protect the full scope of human rights of the Polish people.

Sharing stories to build inclusive peace: Georgian journalists speak out about the impacts of COVID-19 and conflict on women

November 2, 2020 by Heela Yoon and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the government to prevent its spread have created serious socio-economic challenges for many families in Shida Kartli. However, despite the difficulties and the risk of contracting the virus, women remain on the ground, supporting each other and helping the most vulnerable.”

Nino Chibchiuri, “Women on the occupation line in pandemic conditions”(Winning article in the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia)

Local and national journalist play a key role in implementing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and in building societies that are equal, peaceful and grounded in human rights principles. They provide people and communities with the information necessary to hold their governments accountable. They also shape attitudes, and can either contribute to perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes, or promote women’s contributions as leaders and peacebuilders.

Thus, journalistic work comes with many responsibilities. Increasingly, it also comes with a high risk. Violent attacks on journalists – including killings, arbitrary arrests and kidnapping – have been increasingly common, reaching “unprecedented levels” in 2018. The situation further deteriorated in 2019, when Reporters Without Borders noted that “hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear.” The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the risks and challenges faced by journalists. Across the world, there has been an increase in legislation threatening to censor free speech, arrests of journalists, as well as threats and harassments. 

Against this background, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Women’s Information Center (WIC) and with support from the Austrian Development Cooperation, organized a series of online trainings for journalists in Georgia in May 2020. The workshops raised awareness of the basic concepts of gender equality, the importance of women’s meaningful participation in politics and peace negotiations, and the different needs of women and girls in times of conflict and crisis situations among media practitioners. During the workshops, the participants and experts – including women from conflict-affected areas – discussed the role of the media during the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that while the media could play an important role in disseminating life-saving information about the pandemic and preventative measures, which is scarce outside of major cities, it often fails to do so. The participants noted that in some instances the media has contributed to spreading incorrect information, and that coverage of the impact of the pandemic on women – for example, the impacts on reproductive health and the unpaid care work – has been completely absent from the reporting.

The online trainings organized by GNWP and WIC paved the way for local journalists and peacebuilders in Georgia to share their stories and stronger recommendations for the implementation of WPS agenda. They equipped the journalist and peacebuilders with knowledge and skills necessary to produce gender- and conflict-sensitive reports on COVID-19 and on peace and security.

To complement the training and to encourage more reporting on women and peace and security including the impact of the pandemic on women’s lives including their peacebuilding efforts, GNWP and WIC launched the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia.

As a result of the intensive training course and the Media and WPS prize, nine media projects were submitted to the competition.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, GNWP and WIC proudly recognize the three winning media materials, which highlight the key roles of women peacebuilders in the implementation of WPS agenda and in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia. 

Please see summaries of the three recognized materials below.

First Place: Nino Chibchiuri, “Women on the occupation line in pandemic conditions”

Photo: Nino Chibchiuri

Full text available at: http://radiomosaic.ge/index.php/articles/9073-2020-08-13-08-34-25?fbclid=IwAR3H73WBrxbFhO1XLbyUqhQjoH2z2je1xJ7wdWERP_aMmF3ckFxPw5GKzTU

In this engaging article, Ms. Nino Chibchiuri highlights the role of women peacebuilders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article focuses on the lives of local women in conflict zones and the way in which the crisis has negatively affected women. For example, it shares the story of a mother of three from Tsitelubani Village near the occupation line, who has been “selling sugar and bread to be able to make a modest income due to shortage of food supplies.”

The article uses the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight a range of challenges related to gender equality in the conflict-affected region of Shida Kartli. These include: lack of physical and psychosocial support for women affected by conflict; exclusion of women from decision-making; and the negative gender stereotypes that result in women being perceived as “second-class citizens”.

However, the article emphasizes that women are not helpless victims of the pandemic and gender inequality. It provides several examples of women who have been mobilizing, distributing food packages, and supporting each other during the challenging times.

Second Place: Nana Kobalia, “‘Charirama’ – a farm in Darchel, run by a young woman”

Photo: Nana Kobalia

Video available at: https://odishinews.ge/2020/07/01/charirama-pherma-darchelshi-romelsats-akhalgazrda-qali-udzghveba/ 

This video reportage captures the story of a young woman farmer named Lela Kobalia and the struggle of her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The video follows young female farmers to show how they are making revenue by producing organic fruits and vegetables – a trade traditionally associated with men. The author also mentions the support of government to help local farmers enter their products into the EU market. 

Third Place: Nina Kheladze, “The role of women in peace”

Photo: Nina Kheladze

Full text available at: https://bit.ly/3lJUhxx

The article highlights the stories and struggles of peace activists involved in different peace projects in Abkhazia, one of the breakaway regions in Georgia. It illustrates the important role of the civil society in building bridges and strengthening social cohesion within the conflict-affected communities, and the important role of women in the implementation of these peace-related projects.  

The article also notes the exchange of information between the activists in Abkhazia and  their counterparts in Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tbilisi. GNWP and WIC appreciate this as a good sign of potential collaboration among local women peacebuilders.  The article also draws attention to the need of local peacebuilders in the region for greater funding and technical support.

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