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“We are building our own history”: Thinzar Shunlei Yi talks to GNWP about the future of Myanmar amidst a military coup

Written by Anniesa Hussain, Peacebuilding Programs Intern for Asia

Edited by Mallika Iyer, Asia Programs Coordinator and Humanitarian Action Specialist

On February 1, 2021, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) usurped the National League for Democracy, detained civilian government officials and civil society leaders- declaring a state of emergency on the grounds of alleged election fraud during the national elections in November 2020. The military coup led to an immediate increase in military-sponsored violence and unlawful detentions by the Junta. Thousands of protestors, from all walks of Myanmar society, peacefully took to the streets in a historic uprising against the military coup. These protestors have continued to brave reprisals and targeted attacks throughout 2021, despite over 900 protesters and bystanders, including around 75 children, having been murdered at the hands of the military Junta.

It is estimated that 60% of Myanmar’s protestors are women – with around 50% of women making up all protest-related deaths. Women protestors, particularly from historically marginalized ethnic minorities, have been met with an assortment of state-sponsored abuses from fatal shootings, physical and sexual assaults to denial of food, medical care, and legal representation. Accountability for targeted killings and attacks have been limited, resulting in widespread impunity for perpetrators. In addition, a lack of reporting of these atrocities over recent months by the global media has also increased the military’s impunity.

The desperate situation for women in Myanmar has propelled many women to seek asylum in Thailand and India. It is estimated that at least 50,000 asylum seekers from Myanmar are living in makeshift settlements on Thailand’s western border, facing arrest or forced repatriation by Thai authorities. 

As a show of defiance against the treatment of women, protestors have been adopting creative means of challenging patriarchal norms. For example, in the face of military misogyny women hung their Sarongs (undergarments) and sanitary pads drenched in red paint over photos of military generals – at once a symbol of women’s power and to mock and shame the military forces.

Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a youth activist from Yangon, is a shining example of resilience in the pursuit of freedom and democracy. From 2012 to 2016 she co-organized and led nationwide and regional youth forums in Myanmar. She was the first woman coordinator of the National Youth Congress (NYC), contributed to the National Youth Policy Strategic Plan and works with the Asian Youth Peace Network. Thinzar Shunlei Yi also works with the Action Committee for Democracy Development (ACDD) as an Advocacy Coordinator. In 2020, Thinzar Shunlei Yi joined the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar network, coordinated by the Yangon Youth Network. Launched with support from Global Affairs Canada, the YWL network advocates for the effective implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS)  and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agendas, along with the protection of the human rights of ethnic minorities, in Myanmar.

In response to the military coup in February 2021, Thinzar Shunlei Yi co-created the #Sisters2Sisters solidarity movement. The movement aims to raise awareness and demand accountability for the Myanmar military’s systematic sexual abuse and oppression of women activists and protestors. Her story is one of courage and perseverance against all odds. She continues to stand by her commitment to fight for a free, fair, and democratic Myanmar.

GNWP held a virtual interview with Thinzar Shunlei Yi on September 15, 2021.

GNWP: It’s been eight months since the military coup in Myanmar. How has the civil disobedience movement progressed? What are some of the challenges the movement is facing?

It’s been over eight months, and the military is refusing to reverse the coup. Instead the military has escalated violence and increased violations of our civil liberties and human rights. Threats to our freedom and ongoing violence are the main challenges to the ongoing civil disobedience movement. Our movement is not just a resistance to the coup, it’s a cultural and ideological revolution. We’re losing friends every day. It’s challenging to keep going. To build a new nation, we have to transform our thinking and the way we do things.

GNWP: It’s been said that women make up 60% of the protestors in the civil disobedience movement. How have women been advocating for gender equality, democracy, and human rights as part of the movement?

We talk about the underlying patriarchy in society and in the Myanmar’s military. The women in Myanmar know what it’s like to be oppressed by men – at home and in public life. This gives us dedication to fight back against the Myanmar military. Our women-led Sarong movement was remarkable. In Myanmar Sarongs hold superstitions, many men believe that touching these garments can take away their power. So, on International Women’s Day, we raised our sarongs. We had support from young men, who act as gender equality allies.

Women, who consist of almost 60% of the whole movement, play many roles including leaders and decision makers. Despite the role we play in civil society, women are not yet in decision-making positions in the government or revolutionary strike committees. We have to demand our rights and space and reclaim our power. It’s tiring for us. There are many different barriers for women in Myanmar to meaningfully participate in political decision-making.  For young women, things are even worse. We are manipulated and exploited by the military Junta.

We need more visibility of the contributions of women and young women in protecting human rights, promoting gender equality, and building sustainable peace in Myanmar. I organized the #Sisters2Sisters movement to build solidarity amongst women’s civil society across the world. This solidarity goes beyond borders, race, sex, and gender. Solidarity is a basic principle of the women’s revolution inside Myanmar. That’s what we try to communicate.

GNWP: We’ve heard about rising levels of sexual violence amongst female detainees. What kinds of risks have women activists been facing?

Women activists are facing threats from their families and the Myanmar military. We are told by parents that protesting out in the streets is not what we’re supposed to do. We are told: “don’t do it, don’t go out!”. This is our first challenge. When we manage to overcome our family’s opposition, we risk being killed by the military and targeted by snipers. Peaceful protests can become flash strikes where we go out onto the streets and immediately disappear. We can be arbitrarily arrested by the military forces. When they arrest young women they take us to the investigation center where they check our mobile devices for personal images or incriminating content that can be used to ruin our reputations and undermine our authority within civil society. Through instilling fear and spreading false information about women the military Junta intend to inhibit the civil disobedience movement.

Since the military coup, many young people have become activists. Leaders of the civil disobedience movement need support, resources, training, and opportunities to amplify their messages to regional and global policymakers. Their voices need to be heard. So, organizations such as yours can amplify voices on the ground, especially those of young women from the ethnic and religious minorities. Their contributions to peacebuilding need to be documented and visible.

GNWP: How has the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar worsened through the military coup and COVID-19? We know that many people have fled to Thailand and India. What kind of support have people received in India and Thailand from humanitarian actors?

The spread of COVID-19 has increased amongst displaced populations fleeing armed conflict between the Myanmar Military and Ethnic Armed Organizations in Kayah State and the eastern Bago region. People, particularly ethnic minorities, in conflict-affected border areas were already facing starvation and a humanitarian crisis existed before the coup.  But, since February, things have deteriorated due to the increasing frequency of air strikes. The number of COVID-19 cases is growing, but medical support (especially oxygen tanks) remains severely limited. To make matters worse, the military is preventing relief goods and humanitarian aid from being delivered to these communities. More and more people are dying from extreme poverty and starvation.

Efforts to address the urgent humanitarian crisis by civil society, INGOs, and UN entities have been severely inhibited by disruptions to banking, martial law, ongoing internet shutdown, and the lack of humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in conflict affected communities. India and Thailand have accepted refugees from Myanmar temporarily, but neither country is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention. So, the help that asylum seekers receive is limited.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thai government has imposed stricter regulations and limitations on asylum seekers. The Thai government have been arresting and deporting asylum seekers from Myanmar. In addition, global policymakers are not pressuring the Indian and Thai governments enough to protect and support asylum seekers facing grave threats from the Tatmadaw.

GNWP: How has access to healthcare, education, and the right to work been impacted by COVID and the military coup, particularly for women and ethnic minorities?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has documented almost 500,000 COVID-19 cases in Myanmar. Only six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In response, healthcare workers are protesting against the military coup as a part of the civil disobedience movement, but many have been arrested. As a result, the national healthcare system has been shattered, resulting in thousands of people in search of oxygen cylinders and crematoriums overflowing with bodies. The escalation of politically motivated arrests since the 1 February 2021 military coup has coincided with a surge in infections in the country’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons.

At the frontlines of the civil disobedience movement and due to the COVID-19 pandemic women, young women, and girls in Myanmar are experiencing some of the highest levels of insecurity in recent history. Women are facing arbitrary arrest, sexual violence and harassment as well as being confronted with poverty, unemployment, restrictions to sexual health and reproductive services and education. Many women are forced to work in inhumane conditions in factories – with no other choice to bring food back to their desperate families. Sometimes, they have to work overtime without receiving compensation. Intimate partner violence has also increase, yet women have nowhere to report cases. They can no longer go to the military because they are too busy arresting protestors.

GNWP: How has the National Unity Government engaged youth, women’s rights groups, and ethnic minorities? Are you optimistic about the development of the Federal Democracy Charter?

Engagement with youth, women’s rights groups, and ethnic minorities has improved in comparison to the last ten years. In the previous decade, we thought we were building democratic institutions – but it was all an illusion.  In the wake of the recent coup, people are feeling more hopeful. There are no boundaries anymore. We can create the nation we want to live in. We’re shaping our own future right now. Myanmar’s youth is very determined to work with the National Unity Government. We are holding them accountable to principles of human rights, democracy, and gender equality. The National Unity Government and the Federal Democracy Charter are just a small part of the movement, but they are not the center. Young people are the heartbeat of the movement! We are eight months into our movement – this is just the beginning.

GNWP: What are your recommendations for the UN Security Council and the international policymaking community?

We’ve been urging the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar’s situation to the International Criminal Court, and to ensure accountability for state-sponsored violence and genocide. But nothing has been done. We are no longer depending on or waiting for the United Nations to act. Whether the UN recognizes the National Unity Government or not, the military Junta will always be criminal in our eyes.

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

21 September 2021

by Panthea Pourmalek[1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The WPS-HA Compact

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

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

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

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

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

Youth in Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Join GNWP as a Junior Peacebuilding Influencer

Junior Peacebuilding Influencer

Context

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

The Organization

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

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

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

Responsibilities

The Junior Peacebuilding Influencer agrees to:

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

Qualifications

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

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

Full details are also available here.

Take urgent action to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls and restore peace

23 August 2021

The Global Women Network of Peacebuilders (GNWP) urges a nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan and an immediate cessation of violence. As the country faces an escalating human rights crisis and humanitarian catastrophe, we call on all parties to ensure respect for women’s human rights and protect women and youth peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists, and activists facing threats and violence.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban seized power, including control of major cities in Afghanistan, just two weeks ahead of the complete withdrawal of American and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops. The subsequent deterioration of security, an ongoing drought, and the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have left 18 million people in need of humanitarian aid, over 300,000 people displaced, and hundreds of desperate asylum-seekers. In the Taliban-controlled areas, Afghan women are denied access to education, healthcare, protection, and freedom of movement. They are also being subjected to sexual slavery and forced to marry Taliban fighters. Additionally, the Taliban targets women and youth activists, peacebuilders, human rights defenders, and journalists who have risked their lives to advocate for peace, gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights.

Perpetuating oppressive gender roles is central to the Taliban’s governance vision. Therefore, the Taliban’s return to power has begun to derail gains in gender equality and the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Despite their marginalization from the failed Intra-Afghan Peace Process, women have played a pivotal role in building sustainable peace in Afghanistan. The rights of Afghan women, youth, and other historically marginalized groups must be protected and preserved.  Their leadership must be recognized, amplified, and supported in any peacebuilding or humanitarian response to the crisis. GNWP calls on the Taliban to adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and women’s rights.

GNWP stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, especially grassroots women and youth peacebuilders. We echo their calls for:

  1. Immediate action to protect women and women’s rights through:
    • An immediate cessation of all hostilities, nationwide ceasefire, and adherence with international humanitarian law;
    • Immediate support for the evacuation of Afghans who are at heightened risk of persecution by the Taliban, particularly women and youth human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, through the provision of emergency visas and transportation; and the cessation of deportations of asylum seekers; and
    • Protection of the rights of women, youth, LBGTQIA+ persons, and all other historically marginalized groups, particularly human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, including through the provision of safe houses and relief and recovery services for survivors of gender-based violence and uninhibited access to education and healthcare.
  2. Gender-responsive humanitarian action through:
    • Immediate, safe, and unfettered access for humanitarian actors aiding across conflict lines through the establishment of humanitarian corridors; and
    • A significant increase in funds for the Humanitarian Appeal for Afghanistan and flexible, direct, and rapid funding to frontline local civil society organizations responding to the urgent needs of women and other historically marginalized groups impacted by armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing drought.
  3. Establishment of an inclusive national reconciliation process through:
    • The establishment of an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation for an inclusive, just, durable, realistic, and sustainable political settlement that ensures the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women, young people, and all other historically marginalized groups;
    • Gender-responsive investigative processes, including those to be established by the United Nations Human Rights Council, to document and prosecute all war crimes and crimes against humanity; and
    • A renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and strengthening UN’s presence with a robust mandate and adequate technical and financial capacities to protect the rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups in Afghanistan.

Sustainable peace in Afghanistan will only be possible if it is achieved through an inclusive, locally owned, participatory, and bottom-up approach that addresses the root causes of conflict. It must ensure access to inclusive and quality education, adequate health care systems, a vibrant civil society, religious freedom, and gender equality. GNWP urges the United Nations Security Council and the broader international community to take all necessary action to restore security and civil and constitutional order in Afghanistan, including by re-initiating talks for national reconciliation, meeting urgent humanitarian needs and protecting civil society activists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GNWP’s commitment to the Compact

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

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

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

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

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