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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.

Statement of Solidarity with the #EndSARS Protests in Nigeria Against Police Brutality and Corruption

November 2, 2020

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) strongly condemns violence against peaceful protesters in Nigeria. We stand in solidarity with women and youth who are at the forefront of the nation-wide demonstrations against police brutality and abuses of power by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.

GNWP’s partner, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Nigeria reports that since October 8, 2020, 26 out of 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in  Nigeria has witnessed  series of  protests against the “inadequacies of law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators of abuses to justice.” Young women and men have been leading the protests calling for an end to police brutality. We share their grave concerns regarding human rights abuses committed by the SARS since its inception in 1992, including cases of torture, misuse of weapons, extra-judicial killing, physical and sexual assaults, unlawful arrest and detention, extortion, and illegal stop and searches. Young people have been disproportionately affected and targeted by the police officers of the SARS.

We echo the calls by Nigerian youth and women peacebuilders, including our partner WANEP-Nigeria to conduct widespread and inclusive consultations with key stakeholders, including civil society, especially youth-led organizations, to find lasting solutions to the current crisis, and promote sustainable peace and justice in Nigeria. We congratulate the Nigerian youth, women and other protesters for their persistence that led to the disbandment of the SARS in all 36 and the Federal Capital as announced by the Inspector General of Police on October 11, 2020. We also acknowledge the positive step taken by Federal Government in setting up the National Economic Council (NEC) Committee, headed by the Vice President, and designed to provide an effective communication channel with the youth, civil society and religious leaders across the country.  

We call on the Nigerian government to listen to the remaining demands of women and youth peacebuilders, to address the root causes of the abuse of power that gave rise to the protests. These include:

  • Youth and women’s meaningful participation in decision-making and peacebuilding processes at all levels. Youth are systematically excluded from decision-making and public governance, while representing more than 40% of Nigeria’s population.[1] Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today, and have displayed their leadership in demanding change and mobilizing for peace and justice. The Nigerian government must ensure the meaningful, equal and full participation of youth, including young women, in decision-making processes around police reform and corruption in police services.

Alongside WANEP-Nigeria, Nigerian youth, and Nigerian civil society, we call on the Nigerian government to recognize the compounded impacts of COVID-19 and multiple conflicts across the country on women and youth participation. The government must uphold its commitments under UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, and on Youth, Peace and Security by effectively addressing barriers to women and youth participation.

  • Addressing socio-economic inequalities that are one of the root causes of conflict and police brutality. We support Nigerian civil society organizations’ call for the Federal and State governments to create economic empowerment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods for young women and men. Concrete actions are needed to increase youth employment.
  • Establishment of effective mechanisms to keep State governments and Nigerian Police Force accountable for fulfilling the five demands of the #EndSARS movement approved by the President Panel on Police Reform on October 13, 2020. All those responsible for these egregious human rights violations must be held accountable, and commitments made towards police reform must manifest in concrete actions. 
  • Ensuring protections for protesters and activists working to defend human rights and calling for an end to police brutality. We support Nigerian civil society organizations’ call for the Federal and State governments to protect the right to peaceful assembly in line with their obligations under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999). This must be done by fostering conditions that will allow all activists, specifically youth, to continue peaceful protests without fear of persecution or harassment.

Meaningful participation of women and youth and ensuring accountability for the abuse of power by those mandated to protect are key tenets of sustainable peace. We urge the Nigerian government to heed the calls of the civil society and take decisive actions to address structural roots of police brutality and violence in the country.


[1] Interview with GNWP Partner, October 27, 2020

Sustainable peace requires transformative action! What do local women peacebuilders have to say ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security agenda?

Sustainable peace requires transformative action! What do local women peacebuilders have to say ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security agenda?

October 12, 2020 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos[1]

“Women are the future of sustaining peace! Their work has to be supported.”

With these words, Tintswalo Cassandra Makhubele, a peace activist from South Africa, called for the inclusion of the perspectives of local women peacebuilders in global decision-making about peacebuilding and sustaining peace.[2] Her call came at a critical time, as 2020 marks the 20th Anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 – a groundbreaking international law that recognized women’s important roles in building and sustaining peace, and called for their meaningful participation in all processes designed to prevent conflict, build and sustain peace.

As the international community prepares itself for this critical milestone, Tintswalo’s words remind of a deeper truth – women are not only the future of sustaining peace, but also its present, and its past. Women’s peace movements have espoused the values of preventative action, cross-sectoral response and inclusivity long before they were captured in global discussions. Women are the pioneers of building and sustaining peace – as well as its future.

I met Tintswalo in Pretoria, South Africa, during a consultation on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), UN Women and the Embassy of Ireland to South Africa on March 2, 2020. Over 30 local women from across the country participated in the consultation to discuss their peace and security priorities and formulate key recommendations to inform the milestone anniversaries and review processes taking place in 2020. Similar consultations were also held in Kampala, Uganda; Bogotá, Colombia, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Across the four countries, many of the same challenges and recommendations resonated among the women peacebuilders. They talked about women’s roles in peace negotiations. They warned about the lack of economic opportunities and the impacts of climate change as drivers of conflict. They told us about their initiatives to bridge the gap between the needs and realities of their communities, and the political processes taking place in capitals, including their efforts to monitor elections and campaign for the protection of human rights.

The year 2020: A milestone for women peacebuilders

“2020 is an opportunity to reflect on what works and what does not work in peacebuilding, and how local women and their perspectives can be better included” – Tintswalo Makhubele, South Africa Congress of Non-Profit Organizations (SANOCO)

The year 2020 is a milestone for women activists and peacebuilders. It marks the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 – a historic resolution, which provided a normative framework for women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding, as well as the protection of women from gender-based violence during conflict. It also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action – the blueprint for women’s empowerment and gender equality, and a foundational document of UNSCR 1325. Both documents were the result of an unyielding advocacy of civil society and women’s movements, including from local women peacebuilders. While responsibility for implementation of these global commitments lies in large part with governments, women peacebuilders are also at the forefront of their implementation. And despite women’s work on the ground to mediate and prevent conflict and negotiate peace, they remain largely excluded and still face many barriers to full and meaningful participation in decision-making and conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding processes around the world. 2020 is also the year of the Peacebuilding Architecture Review – a process designed to “take stock of the work done by the United Nations on peacebuilding” and to identify concrete ways to improve UN’s peacebuilding work.

The convergence of the Peacebuilding Architecture Review, the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, and the Generation Equality Forum planned for 2021[3] to commemorate 25 years of the Beijing Platform for Action, jointly provide an important opportunity. 2020 is the year to take stock of the progress made thus far, and to look to the future and identify concrete ways to build durable and inclusive peace, that is led by local women and men of all ages and backgrounds.

What works for peace: The lens of local women

It was with this opportunity in mind that GNWP, UN Women and Ireland have set out to organize a series of consultations with local women to inform the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325.

Tintswalo, along with one of the participants from the consultation conducted by UN Women in Colombia – Ana Cristina Piño from the Corporación Centro de Apoyo Popular (CENTRAP) – were able to bring the voices of their colleagues to the international forum. They provided briefings to the PBC members ahead of their meeting on Women, Peace and Security. This was a remarkable opportunity for the grassroots activists to directly share their priorities and recommendations with global policy-makers, using their own, unique voice.

Tintswalo and Ana Cristina shared specific recommendations, which reflected those discussed in the consultations in Belfast, Bogotà, Kampala and Pretoria:

  • Proactively include women peacebuilders in conflict analysis, planning, design and implementation of all peacebuilding programs.

The women emphasized that governments, international donors and the UN should invest more funds and efforts to make sure that they include local women’s perspectives in their planning. The women in Uganda noted that while they are the ones doing the work on the ground, they are not always aware when national or international projects are being organized. They stressed the importance of engaging women’s networks – who often bring together women from across the country – when designing peacebuilding programs, to identify and consult with local women peacebuilders. They also called for more investment into women’s networks, to support their work of organizing, mobilizing and bringing together grassroots women.

  • Increase investment in women-led peacebuilding.

Across the four countries where we conducted the consultations, women identified limited funding as a key challenge. The women in South Africa pointed out that international funding is often not accessible to them because of administrative requirements related to the size of the organization and experience in managing international grants. This leads to small, local organizations being left out. They called on donors to revise the restrictive funding requirements and create more opportunities that are designed for grassroots peacebuilders. They also called for more investment in enhancing skills of local peacebuilders – for example, on grant applications, results monitoring and reporting to donors – to make sure that they are not dependent on larger organizations that have this expertise.

  • Train women as mediators, and include them in official peace negotiations.

Women we spoke to in Colombia pointed out that women’s participation in the peace negotiation between the Government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) contributed to strengthening of the women’s movement in Colombia, and led to a change in the Colombian society towards more inclusive and respectful of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. But despite such testimonies, women face an uphill battle when it comes to participation in peace negotiations, even when they are highly trained and capable. For example, in Uganda, women are excluded from local peace committees, as well as local and national legislative bodies. As a result, key policies related to peacebuilding – such as the transitional justice policy – are gender-blind and do not reflect women’s concerns and priorities. The women called for national and international decision-makers to strengthen their efforts to ensure that women can participate in negotiations – for example, by creating national pools of women mediators to react to outbreaks of violence; and including women in local peace committees.

  • Zero tolerance for violence against women, and use of innovative measures to address the threats against women activists, peacebuilders, and human rights defenders.

The women we consulted recognized that physical and sexual violence remains one of the key barriers to women’s meaningful participation. Participants in Northern Ireland also noted that sexual violence can be used as a means of community control and coercion, both during conflict and afterwards.Women in Uganda noted that women peacebuilders are often regarded as “trouble-makers” and shunned from their communities. They called for the creation of more rapid response mechanisms to support women who are facing threats. They also called for civil society-led early warning mechanisms to be able to react to increases in violence against women.

  • Support women’s economic inclusion as a driver of peace.

For the women we consulted with, there was no doubt that women’s economic inclusion is necessary to build durable peace. Even when women are the primary earners in the family, due to the traditional power structures, they do not have a say in the decision-making on family finances. This fuels domestic violence and affects women’s security and access to justice. The women asked for the governments to ensure a minimum of 50% of women’s inclusion in public financial institutions, to create more equitable financial laws and policies.

 “Sustainable peace is only possible if we change the dominant models of the economy and challenge patriarchy”

– Ana Cristina Piño, Corporación Centro de Apoyo Popular (CENTRAP)

The message of the women we consulted was clear: in order to achieve sustainable peace, women’s meaningful participation and their leadership as peacebuilders must be recognized and supported. 20 years after Resolution 1325 was adopted, this recognition and support are long overdue. As we commemorate the many milestones of the year 2020 and look to the future, we must commit to, and invest in concrete, specific and localized peacebuilding efforts that put the trust in local women, and are long-term in nature, transformative in design, and bold in their ambitions.

GNWP thanks the Government of Ireland and UN Women for their support to this project.

Full report with recommendations from the consultations conducted by GNWP, UN Women and the Government of Ireland in Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Uganda, will be launched on October 26, 2020. Please contact Agnieszka@gnwp.org for more details.


[1] Agnieszka Fal -Dutra Santos is a Program Coordinator and Policy Specialist at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She co-facilitated the consultations with local women peacebuilders in South Africa and Uganda, and co-wrote the submission to the Peacebuildig Commission, summarizing the conclusions from all four consultations.

[2] Tintswalo Makhubele briefed the Peacebuilding Commission – an intergovernmental body designed to support peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries – in April 2020. The virtual meeting on Women, Peace and Security she participated in was part of the review of the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture.

[3] Originally planned to take place in 2020, which is the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Generation Equality Forum was delayed to 2021 due to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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