Category: Advocacy

Category: Advocacy

#FacebookPromotesViolence: GNWP is Boycotting Facebook

For the month of September, we’re hitting pause on Facebook.

During the next thirty days the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is boycotting Facebook. We will stop all activity to raise awareness of the platform’s role in threatening peace and democracy.

We say ENOUGH! Facebook must be held to account and reformed to curb disinformation, human rights violations and the warmongering it has become a space for. Disinformation and fake news stories on Facebook have reached unprecedented numbers, at unprecedented speed. The largest-ever study on fake news, conducted by data scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), shows that false information on social media spreads faster and reaches more people than true information.

We can no longer turn a blind eye to how Facebook facilitates wide-ranging and pervasive human rights abuses that threaten all people, but disproportionately affect marginalized groups, such as women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA+) people, and other minority groups.

We use the following examples from across the world to illustrate the need to raise our voices against Facebook’s inaction:

Facebook must take responsibility for the hateful narratives, extremist and misogynistic views and for the incitements of violence being widely spread across its global platforms.  It must take clear and unequivocal action against the spread of hate and violence.

Our Call to Action:

  • We call on Facebook to strengthen its accountability and fact-checking mechanisms, and to ensure immediate removal of false content that incites violence.
  • We call on companies to remove their advertising from Facebook to protest the platform’s complicity in promoting violence.
  • We call on governments to adopt robust accountability regulations for Facebook to prevent the dissemination of fake news, hate speech and violent messages in their countries.
  • We call on civil society organizations, governments, the UN, and all other actors, to call Facebook’s contributions to promoting war and violence, demand greater accountability and join our #FacebookPromotesViolence campaign to spread awareness about the use of misinformation and hate speech.

Please contact the GNWP team at communications@gnwp.org for any questions or to join our efforts in transforming social media into a safe space for information sharing, and discussions that promote peace, justice, and equality.

Civil Society Recommendations to the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action

This document was prepared by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) based on the inputs of the members of the civil society-led Action Coalition on WPS and YPS.  It presents a set of recommendations on the points raised in the concept note of the Compact on Women and Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action in the Generation Equality Forum. The recommendations were generated from the Zoom meeting of the civil society-led Action Coalition on WPS and YPS on June 10, 2020, and a series of phone, Zoom, WhatsApp, and email consultations between June 19 –30, 2020. Local, national, regional and global CSOs from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, UK, and the USA participated in these consultations. Representatives of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Youth, UN Department of Peace Operations, UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women also participated at the Zoom meeting on June 10, 2020.

Many of the recommendations echo those presented by civil society and local women peacebuilders in the Vienna Declaration 2020, the outcome document of the Global Women’s Forum on Women Peacebuilders & Humanitarian Actors, organized by the Austrian Development Cooperation,  the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fundin Vienna on February 19-20, 2020; the 2018-2019  Global Study of Civil Society And Local Women’s Perception of Sustaining Peace conducted by GNWP with  support from UN Women; and the report from the Local consultations with women from civil society on WPS and Sustaining Peace in Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Uganda prepared by GNWP with support from Ireland and UN Women as a contribution to the Peacebuilding Architecture Review in 2020.”

“Women don’t participate in the peace process – they don’t know how. It’s the journalists’ job to change this!”

July 6, 2020 by Heela Yoon and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

“Resolution 1325 is one of the most important international laws we have. It guarantees women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making. But in Georgia, women do not participate in the peace negotiation and important discussions, because they don’t have the information on how to get involved. In conflict areas, television is the main source of information for women, but it does not speak about peace, or about the importance of women’s participation. It’s the journalists’ role to change this!”

This is how Ms.Lela Akiashvili, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Human Rights and Gender Equality in Georgia, addressed the participants of a four-part online training on Women and Peace and Security (WPS) for Georgian media representatives, organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Women’s Information Center (WIC), with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) between May 20th and June 11th, 2020.

The government of Georgia adopted its third National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of UN Security Council’s Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on WPS in 2018, for the period 2018-2020. Thanks to the advocacy by civil society organizations – including GNWP’s partners, WIC and IDP Women’s Association “Consent” – the latest NAP includes a stronger focus on human security, participation of vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced women, and conflict prevention, including through using early warning systems. However, grassroots organizations and local populations in Georgia have very little or no knowledge about the NAP and UNSCR 1325. As a result, this transformative policy may not be effectively implemented.

Journalists play a key role in the implementation of policies. They can bring the resolutions to the local communities and provide the people with information to hold governments accountable. They also have the power to change narratives about women’s roles in peace and security, by highlighting their leadership and contributions, instead of portraying them as helpless victims. However, in practice, this role often remains unfulfilled. According to the Global Media Monitoring report, in 2015, only 24% of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female, and most stories about peace (64%) reinforced gender stereotypes. GNWP’s work with media representatives in Armenia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Georgia, Moldova, Nigeria, the Philippines and Ukraine confirms this. For example, in Ukraine, textual analysis of leading national newspapers conducted by the journalists has shown that women are portrayed as sex objects and incapable of taking decision-making positions. In Nigeria, the journalists found that only between 5 and 10 per cent of stories in major dailies featured women. Therefore, in order to effectively tap into the power of the media to advance the women and peace and security agenda, their own awareness and appreciation of this agenda must also be enhanced. This is the primary reason why GNWP developed its Media and WPS program.

In Georgia, many journalists – especially at the local level – are not aware of the WPS resolutions or women’s roles in building sustainable peace, and often view women as weak and powerless. As part of its effort to support implementation of WPS and meaningful participation of women in peace processes in Georgia, GNWP and WIC organized a series of online media trainings on “Media and Gender Equality in Conflict and Peace Process”. The aim of the training was to increase the awareness of Georgian journalists about their roles in supporting gender equality, women’s meaningful participation, the implementation of Georgia’s NAP on UNSCR 1325, and in promoting gender- and conflict-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training came at a critical time. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays and suspension of work for many civil society organizations. Moreover, the wide-reaching socio-economic and peace and security impacts of the pandemic make the role of the media more crucial than ever. To address the “pandemic of disinformation,” GNWP and WIC with the support of ADA have decided to hold the media training virtually.

As a result, the training took place as a series of four interactive online discussions. During the first online workshop, the participants learned and discussed the basic concepts of gender equality and reflected on the different needs of women and girls in time of conflict and crises. The journalists conducted a gender-sensitive analysis of the content of local and national newspapers to better understand how women are portrayed in the media and how these representations are different from the representation of men. During the second workshop, the participants deepened their knowledge of UNSCR 1325 and other resolutions on WPS. They also heard from Lela Akiashvil – the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Human Rights and Gender Equality in Georgia – about the national and local policies and activities implemented in the country to achieve the objectives of the resolutions. During the third workshop, the participants engaged in an interactive discussion about women’s roles in the Georgian peace process. They learned about the structure and modality of the ongoing peace negotiation and listened to experiences of women from areas bordering the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. During the fourth training, the participants analyzed the specific needs of women and girls in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and what is required for a gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response.  They also examined  how Georgian women – including women peacebuilders – are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The participants emphasized the importance of implementing the WPS agenda during the pandemic as this can contribute in addressing gender inequalities and prevention of violence.

The workshops equipped the journalists with knowledge and skills necessary to produce gender- and conflict-sensitive reports on COVID-19 and on peace and security. As a result of the intensive training course, the journalists committed to practice more gender-sensitive and conflict-sensitive reporting. As one of the participants Nina stated, “As journalists, we should focus more on the needs of women and girls during the pandemic, share stories of female doctors and healthcare workers, and highlight their achievements and challenges.” Another participant, Nuka, said “Media is not only a source of information. It shapes norms and attitudes.”

During the last training, the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia was launched. The journalists have a month to submit articles, audio and video materials that cover peace and security or COVID-19 issues from a gender- and conflict-sensitive perspectives. Stay tuned for GNWP’s announcement of the winning journalists and their entries!

Where are the women and youth peacebuilders?

Civil society Beijing +25 WPS-YPS Action Coalition launches its Advocacy Paper, calls for meaningful inclusion of Women and Peace and Security and Youth and Peace and Security in Generation Equality Forum

March 30, 2020 by Jenaina Irani and Katrina Leclerc

With the outbreak of the global pandemic of COVID-19, civil society-led Beijing+25 WPS-YPS Action Coalition strategized and mobilized. The pandemic did not stop their global advocacy: on March 17, 2020, they hosted an online event “Beijing+25: Where are the Women and Youth Peacebuilders?”, originally planned during the now-cancelled United Nations’ 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

As the situation continued to evolve – the CSW first postponed, then cancelled; gatherings in New York limited to maximum 10 people, then strongly discouraged altogether – women and youth peacebuilders who comprise the Action Coalition strategized and revised the modality of the event. Their determination and the success of the online discussion send a clear message: “Our resolve will not be stifled by the COVID-19. Our voices will not be silenced!”

Ultimately, the event took the form of a virtual roundtable discussion, which brought together 180 participants representing the civil society, Member States, and UN entities. They engaged in a strategic discussion on the necessary actions for the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas and their intentional and meaningful inclusion in the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) process and outcomes, in order to prevent the weakening of agreed-upon language in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security resolutions.

“There cannot be empowerment without peace, and there cannot be peace without gender equality,” said Mallika Iyer, GNWP’s Program Officer, as she introduced the Advocacy Paper developed by the Beijing +25 WPS-YPS Action Coalition identifying and coordinating messaging on key recommendations from civil society within the Beijing+25/GEF process. The key messages and recommendations of the paper were presented by participating organizations of the civil society-led Action Coalition from Afghanistan, Latin America, Iraq, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Ukraine, and Canada. Their message was echoed by many of the other high-level speakers and grassroots activists who took the floor during the discussion.

Keynote speakers included Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and initiator of UNSCR 1325, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, former Chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Ms. Bandana Rana, Vice-Chair of the CEDAW Committee, Ms. Paivi Kannisto, Chief, Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action Section at  UN Women, Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security, Ms. Cecile Mazzacurati, Head of the Secretariat of the Global Coalition on Youth, Peace, and Security at UNFPA and Ms. Shannon Kowalski, from the International Women’s Health Coalition and the civil society representative to the GEF Core Group and Dr. Lina Abirafeh, Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University. All of them have agreed that the GEF offers an important opportunity to step up the commitment and action for gender equality. As Ambassador Chowdhury put it, “The year 2020 gives us the opportunity to put renewed energy to roll back the dual scourges of patriarchy and misogyny” – but only if WPS and YPS are meaningfully integrated into all discussions and outcomes.

In an encouraging development for women and youth peacebuilders around the world, keynote speaker Ms. Sarah Hendricks, Director, Policy, Program, and Intergovernmental Division at UN Women announced that GEF’s core group set up a task force to identify specific actions that can strengthen WPS and YPS integration into the GEF process. The task force identified four possible modalities for WPS and YPS integration and conducted consultations with the civil society, from which two options emerged as the most viable:

1)        a stand-alone Action Coalition, or

2)        a “hybrid” mechanism, which, for now, has been termed a WPS compact

Ms. Hendricks explained that the compact approach has some strong level of support, as it would build on existing normative frameworks of both the WPS and YPS agendas, while remaining grounded in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Discussions on the potential compact will continue to be shaped based on consultations with civil society, Member States, and the core group of the GEF process.

The welcome announcement came as a result of persistent civil society advocacy over the past months. The strong and enthusiastic participation of peacebuilding organizations from around the world in the virtual discussion shows that women and youth peacebuilders are ready to continue the advocacy for their meaningful inclusion in GEF progress and outcomes. As Ms. Mavic Cabrera Balleza, CEO and founder of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders emphasized in her closing remarks, “COVID-19 will not stop women and youth peacebuilders from our advocacy to make our voices heard!”


Want to know more about the Beijing+25 Action Coalition on WPS-YPS? Click here.

For full recording of the March 17th event: Click here.

GNWP’s Cora Weiss Fellow: Civil society briefer at UN CSW64

Remarks by Heela Yoon, Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders; and Founder and Director of the Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association

Delivered during the procedural meeting of the 64th Commission on the Status of Women, 9 March 2020.

Your Excellencies, representatives of the UN, Member States, and fellow civil society actors, good morning!

Women, including young women, are critical actors, who build and sustain peace, advance sustainable development, and promote and protect human rights in their countries and communities. Over the past 50 years, significant achievements have been made to advance their rights and gender equality. The Commission on the Status of Women was created in 1961; the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted in 1995; the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted in 2000; and finally, UNSCRs 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, was adopted in 2015. However, despite some progress in the implementation of these international frameworks, women, young women and girls still face many challenges and threats; and our contributions to human rights, peace and development is often unrecognized and unsupported.

I stand here before you today, particularly grateful that I have been given the unique opportunity and enormous responsibility to represent young Afghan women who are advocating for gender equality, human rights, and sustainable peace in grassroots communities on a daily basis. As the world watches Afghanistan’s peace process unfold, it is important to remember that to end and prevent armed conflict and war, we must address its gendered impact. Afghan women, young women, and girls must meaningfully participate in peace processes and political decision-making at all levels in order to ensure sustainable and inclusive peace and development.

Shouldering large domestic burdens, denied access to education and economic opportunities, and experiencing discrimination based on assumptions about their capabilities and credibility, Afghan women, young women, and girls—like their counterparts around the world–face significant barriers to meaningful participation in political decision making, peace processes, and the national economy. For example, 87% of women are illiterate, only 2% of women have access to higher education. This reflects a global reality, wherein 76 million young women lack basic literacy skills.

In Afghanistan, like in many places around the world, most women face significant challenges in exercising their economic rights and participating in the labor force. Without financial independence and literacy skills, they are inhibited from participating in household and community decision-making. Moreover, close to 90% of Afghan women and girls suffer from at least one form of abuse, including physical or psychological violence; and 70-80% are subjected to early, forced, and child marriage, many before the age of 16.

According to the Progress Study on Youth Peace and Security, young women in conflict affected communities are stereotyped as victims, while young men are stereotyped as perpetrators of violence–rather than partners for peace. In an already limited space for women’s meaningful participation in political decision-making and peace processes, young women remain overlooked, marginalized, and excluded. However, young women are dispelling restrictive narratives of women as victims of conflict without agency and are advocating for gender equality and inclusive and sustainable peacebuilding measures.  In the absence of formal mechanisms and accessible opportunities to meaningfully participate socially, politically, and economically, young women have forged their own avenues to lead peacebuilding efforts and movements for progressive social transformation.

As the Founder of Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association and as a Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, I work with young women and men  to challenge gender stereotypes in conflict affected rural communities. Through creative writing, art, and music, we discuss women’s rights, feminism, human rights, and sustainable development and peace. We are taking ownership of our bodies, examining religion, asserting our rights in the family and broader society. 

Today, most Afghan women, men, and youth fear that peace with the Taliban may mean war on us if we are marginalized from the peace process. The Afghan Peace Process is a decisive turning point in our country’s history. I urge all parties involved at the local, national, and international levels to remain committed to international human rights and women’s rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the WPS Agenda, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Afghan women have buried their sons, daughters, husbands, sisters and brothers. We want peace more than anything, and we know peace can only be achieved by recognizing our freedom and rights.

We want meaningful participation in the peace process and we want our voices to be heard and make a positive difference. Without women, this peace will be a broken peace! We are hopeful for an Afghanistan in which women, young women, and girls will be able to participate meaningfully in political decision-making at all levels; and realize their full potential. 

I’m inspired and bolstered by the activism of young women from across the world whose leadership in peacebuilding has brought new approaches to advocacy. Young women have led peaceful demonstrations and protests for good governance in India, Chile, and Algeria; sparked global action for climate change; and steered community service, humanitarian response, civic engagement, and social media revolutions. Young women leaders continue to demand and push for equality in a way that can revive the energy of all those around them. They have the power to mobilize.

Considering that youth make up the majority population in conflict-affected countries, their meaningful participation in peace processes and political decision making is both a demographic necessity and a democratic imperative for accountability of political institutions under international law. 2020 is a pivotal year for gender equality. The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference (Beijing+25)/Generation Equality Forum, the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, and the 5th anniversary of UNSCR 2250, are catalytic moments to advance the gender equality agenda and improve the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions. These coinciding anniversaries present a global momentum for governments, UN entities, students, teachers, civil society, feminists, women’s rights activists, and young people to mobilize for our collective vision for gender equality, sustainable and inclusive peace. I call on the UN and Member States to ensure that the voices of women and youth peacebuilders are central to these global processes.