Category: Community Empowerment

Category: Community Empowerment

Amplifying Youth, Peace and Security in Uganda: GNWP partners with civil society organizations to support youth-led building and sustaining peace initiatives

14 November 2023 by Anne Mugo*

“I cannot mention it all, but I believe continued support for such programs is vital for young people”

In June 2023, residents of Mpondwe town in western Uganda woke up to a gruesome reminder of the impact violent conflicts have on young people. Students from 40 secondary schools were brutally killed in a horrific attack perpetrated by the terrorist-designated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Based in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the ADF’s attacks persist nationwide while recruiting and radicalizing Ugandan youth into violent extremism. Young people in Uganda, who represent 78 per cent of the population, continue to be severely impacted by this sporadic violence. Their situation is worsened by human rights violations, a shrinking civic space, internal conflicts, sexual and gender-based violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related crises. Young women are much more vulnerable to these threats and regularly face discrimination based on their age and gender. Furthermore, they are largely neglected in conflict discourses and formal peace and security initiatives and processes. 

Between March and June 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), partnered with the Coalition for Action on 1325 (CoACT) to bolster the efforts of the Ugandan Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) coalition in amplifying United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250’s recognition of youth in peacebuilding processes. The Ugandan YPS coalition comprises 9 civil society organizations alongside 106 trained peace ambassadors representing the conflict-prone districts of Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo. Currently, Uganda needs a national policy framework to guide concrete government action and the implementation of UNSCR 2250. To sustain advocacy towards developing a YPS National Action Plan (NAP), GNWP and CoACT partnered to build the capacity of coalition members to influence national and local policy processes. Over the course of four months, GNWP conducted workshops engaging the YPS coalition members in dialogues and campaigns to amplify the YPS agenda in local communities. They encouraged efforts towards its institutionalization in local and national development plans.

Knowledge Sharing and Movement Building

On 14 April 2023, nine coalition member organizations convened in a strategic planning workshop to share their experiences and present progress updates on the implementation of their local organizational action plans. Participants drew on lessons learned, embraced best practices and developed new cost-effective peacebuilding initiatives as part of their 2023 projects. Three young women-led organizations, hailing from Aburia, Kaberamaido and Kumi, joined the YPS coalition to elevate young women’s voices and share the multifaceted challenges that young women encounter in conflict-ridden settings and a blueprint to build peace at the local and national levels. During the workshop, member organizations also reported the recruitment of an additional 85 young people, demonstrating their ability to further promote YPS in rural communities. Workshop participants showed increased knowledge in identifying and addressing barriers hindering young Ugandans’ meaningful participation in local and national peacebuilding, crisis response and conflict prevention initiatives. 

Youth-Led Peace Dialogues

Central to GNWP’s Localization of WPS resolutions strategy is the convening of key local stakeholders to discuss and assess local security measures from a gender perspective. In Localization workshops, diverse actors gather to analyze local conflicts and craft Local Action Plans (LAPs) that address these challenges in an inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. The Ugandan YPS coalition organized 6 youth-led intergenerational peacebuilding dialogues with a total of 347 participants, comprising youth council leaders, district youth representatives, civil servant representatives, opinion leaders, security personnel, religious leaders, political leaders and presidential representatives. Participants discussed and exchanged valuable insights on the YPS and WPS agendas. Young women and men peacebuilders led peer-to-peer engagements, built partnerships and amplified their roles in the implementation of existing WPS LAPs in the Kasese and Kyegegwa districts. 

Participants also underscored the synergies between the WPS and YPS agendas and urged authorities to employ gender-sensitive approaches in peace and security initiatives and processes. During the intergenerational dialogues, local authorities and key stakeholders committed to partnering with the coalition members to advance youth’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding. To ensure accountability, several YPS coalition members will regularly monitor the implementation of action plans and commitments in their districts. Participants also exchanged insights about the nexus between climate change, conflict, and peace and security, highlighting how climate change exacerbates the effects of conflicts and emergencies on young people and women. Demonstrating their commitment to environmental preservation and climate change mitigation, participants conducted community clean-ups and embarked on tree-planting initiatives in Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo districts. 

Mobilizing Public Support and Ownership of the YPS Agenda

Young women’s and men’s multifaceted roles are often misunderstood and misconstrued in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. Emphasizing youth peacebuilders as critical contributors and decision-makers in local and national conflict prevention and peace processes can counter the stereotypes that often label them as victims. Members from the Uganda YPS coalition actively participated in radio talk shows alongside local government officials to enlighten thousands of listeners about the crucial intersectionality of the WPS and YPS agendas. Listeners demonstrated a willingness to support the meaningful participation of youth in peace discussions that were previously reserved for older community members. GNWP’s financial and technical support to the YPS project amplified the narratives of coalition members and underscored the imperative of providing platforms for youth to continuously engage in conflict prevention efforts. Their stories championed the fostering of a culture in which young women and men are recognized as decision-makers and leaders, steering the course toward sustainable peace.

Anne Mugo

Anne Mugo

Associate for Africa Peacebuilding Programs

“We have to continue to move forward!” – Colombian women discuss strategies for effective implementation of the peace agreement and sustaining peace in Colombia

“We have to continue to move forward!” – Colombian women discuss strategies for effective implementation of the peace agreement and sustaining peace in Colombia

August 13, 2019 by Thais Rehder

Edited by: Ele Veillet-Chowdhury

Contributors: Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) and the Working Group on Gender in Peace (Grupo de Trabajo Género en la Paz, GPaz) organized a National Peace Meeting in Bogotá, Colombia on June 21, 2019.

This meeting, supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), took place at a time of continued uncertainty in Colombia. Although the 2016 peace agreement with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) put an end to over five years of violent conflict, the implementation of the agreement remains slow and uneven. This is despite the adoption of plans that aim to facilitate the reintegration of former FARC combatants and to protect social and community leaders, human rights defenders and journalists. The gender provisions of the peace agreement, which have been hailed internationally as innovative and progressive, have yet to be implemented. Meanwhile, the killing of civil society leaders and human rights defenders persists; and peace talks with the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) have been suspended. Sustained efforts to build peace, prevent conflict and cultivate a culture of peace—with women at the core—are imperative.

Against this background, the National Peace Meeting brought together women leaders from the capital as well as from departments most affected by conflict and violence, such as Arauca, Bolivar, Cauca, Choco, Montes de Maria, Putumayo and Tolima. They were joined by representatives of the Colombian Government, UN Women Colombia, journalists, and representatives of the Embassies of Norway and Sweden to Colombia. Ambassador John Petter Ophdahl from the Norwegian Embassy to Colombia opened the Meeting by recalling the key role women played in peace negotiations and the role they now have to play in implementing the peace agreement.

The Meeting provided a space to analyze the current state of the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC, especially the gender provisions; formulate strategies to contribute to effective implementation; and identify concrete actions to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Colombia.

Participants shared their own experiences and perspectives on peace. The message from the women leaders from Tolima, Cauca, Putumayo, Caribe and Montes de Maria, as well as a representative of the LGBTQ community from Choco was clear: despite the insecurity, and the challenging political context Colombia is facing at the moment, women leaders refuse to give up. They will continue to work to ensure that the peace agreement, especially the gender provisions, are implemented.

Participants also discussed information about national-level implementation provided by RNM & GPaz, and a global perspective brought by GNWP. After sharing statistics about the implementation of the gender-sensitive provisions of the agreement, Claudia Mejia from GPaz emphasized that while many challenges remain, civil society must not lose hope. “We have to move forward!” she said. “The peace agreement implementation timeframe is 15 years…We still have 13 years to go, which are enough to reach a great implementation! Colombia will be able to do this!” A representative of the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, and a member of the FARC political party (and a female ex-combatant) also spoke about the ongoing efforts to implement the agreement.

Together, participants identified several key priorities for effective implementation, including: improving education and raising awareness to promote peace among the population; ensuring holistic and coordinated implementation of the peace agreement across all departments; fostering economic empowerment to build sustainable, long-lasting peace; and protecting the rights of civil society leaders and human rights defenders. Participants highlighted that if people start to become interested and engaged in politics, they will be able to support the peace and empower others to get involved, emphasized the participants. They stressed that it is necessary to work collaboratively towards the implementation of the peace agreement, especially its provisions regarding gender equality and women’s rights. Journalists who participated in the meeting emphasized the importance of highlighting the progress that has already been achieved in the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC, in order to consolidate support for the peace agreement. They highlighted the importance of publishing more human interest stories on the peace agreement, to give it a face, and make the population feel closer to it. They committed to feature female leaders who are working on the implementation of the peace agreement, to recognize their efforts to build a lasting peace in Colombia.

The National Peace Meeting was part of a broader project, implemented by GNWP in partnership with RNM and support from NORAD, which aims to contribute to building a sustainable peace in Colombia through a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, the project enhances the capacities of local women to meaningfully participate in the implementation of peace agreements. On the other hand, it supports local women to build their negotiating skills and develop and implement strategies to advocate for the reinitiating of the negotiations with ELN, to ensure a complete peace in Colombia. GNWP and RNM will conduct Localization of the peace agreement and hold capacity-building for women in Cauca and Tolima in the last quarter of 2019.

Colombia finds itself at a critical juncture. To ensure that it continues on the road to peace, it is necessary to meaningfully include individual women and women’s rights organizations in the implementation of the peace agreement. As Beatriz Quintero, the Director of RNM, shared, “We see the opportunity in peace – less deaths, more possibilities – but we have to continue fighting for it.” Women are the cornerstone of peace in Colombia – and they will not stop in their quest for it.

Security Council members visit Colombia

Just three weeks after GNWP organized a National Peace Meeting in Bogotá, members of the United Nations Security Council visited Colombia on July 11-14, 2019. Their visit marked almost three years since the signing on the peace agreement with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC).

The Security Council Members, invited by the Colombian government, traveled to Bogota and Cauca department, including the Santa Rosa Territorial Area for Training and Reintegration. During the trip, they met FARC members, political parties, civil society, the United Nations Verification Mission (UNVM), and other key stakeholders. The delegation recognized the achievements of the peace process to date, as highlighted in the UN Secretary-General’s 26 June report on the situation in Colombia. They lauded the contributions of the UNVM and welcomed the government’s request to extend the mission for another year after its mandate expires in September 2019. The Members of the delegation also recognized the important role of youth and women leaders in ensuring the effective implementation of the peace agreement, preventing violence and insecurity, and building an inclusive peace.

However, the delegation acknowledged the remaining challenges, including the slow implementation of the peace agreement and the ongoing threats to civil society and social leaders. They called for increased efforts towards implementation and greater collaboration between the government, the FARC and civil society.

The conclusions of the Security Council members’ visit in Colombia echo some of the pressing concerns of local women leaders who participated in the GNWP National Peace Meeting. As they return to New York, they should carry the demands of the Colombian women with them, and continue to call on the Colombian government to guarantee safety of civil society leaders and human rights defenders, and meaningful participation of women in the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the FARC.

“¡Tenemos que seguir avanzando!” – Mujeres colombianas discuten estrategias para la implementación efectiva del tratado de paz y la paz sostenible en Colombia.

13 de Agosto del 2019 por: Thais Rehder

Editado por: Ele Veillet-Chowdhury

Colaboradoras: Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

La Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras para la Paz (Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, GNWP), la Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) y el Grupo de Trabajo Género en la Paz (GPaz) organizaron una Reunión Nacional de Paz en Bogotá, Colombia el 21 de Junio del 2019.

Esta reunión, apoyada por la Agencia Noruega para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (NORAD), tuvo lugar en un momento de incertidumbre política en Colombia. Aunque el acuerdo de paz del 2016 con las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) puso fin a varios años de conflicto violento, la implementación del acuerdo sigue siendo lenta y desigual. Esto a pesar de la adopción de planes que tienen como objetivo facilitar la reintegración de los excombatientes de las FARC y proteger a los líderes sociales y comunitarios, defensores de los derechos humanos y periodistas. Las disposiciones de género del acuerdo de paz, que han sido aclamadas internacionalmente como innovadoras y progresivas, aún no se han implementado. Mientras tanto, persiste el asesinato de líderes de la sociedad civil y defensores de los derechos humanos; y las conversaciones de paz con el Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) han sido suspendidas. Los esfuerzos sostenidos para construir la paz, prevenir conflictos y cultivar una cultura de paz —con las mujeres como núcleo— son vitales.

Con este contexto, la Reunión Nacional de Paz reunió a mujeres líderes de la capital, así como de los departamentos más afectados por el conflicto y la violencia, como Arauca, Bolívar, Cauca, Chocó, Montes de María, Putumayo y Tolima. A ellos se unieron representantes del gobierno colombiano, ONU Mujeres Colombia, periodistas y representantes de las embajadas de Noruega y Suecia en Colombia. El embajador John Petter Ophdahl, de la Embajada de Noruega en Colombia, inauguró la reunión recordando el papel clave que desempeñaron las mujeres en las negociaciones de paz y el papel que ahora deben desempeñar en la implementación del acuerdo de paz.

La Reunión proporcionó un espacio para analizar el estado actual de la implementación del acuerdo de paz con las FARC, especialmente las disposiciones de género; formular estrategias para contribuir a una implementación efectiva; e identificar acciones concretas para garantizar una paz integral y sostenible en Colombia.

Las participantes compartieron sus propias experiencias y perspectivas sobre la paz. El mensaje de las mujeres líderes de Tolima, Cauca, Putumayo, Caribe y Montes de María, así como una representante de la comunidad LGBTQ de Chocó fue claro: a pesar de la inseguridad y el desafiante contexto político que enfrenta Colombia en este momento, las mujeres líderes se niegan a rendirse. Continuarán trabajando para garantizar que se implemente el acuerdo de paz, especialmente las disposiciones de género.

Las participantes también discutieron la información sobre la implementación a nivel nacional proporcionada por RNM y GPaz, y una perspectiva global aportada por GNWP. Después de compartir estadísticas sobre la implementación de las disposiciones sensibles al género del acuerdo, Claudia Mejía de GPaz enfatizó que si bien quedan muchos desafíos, la sociedad civil no debe perder la esperanza. “¡Tenemos que avanzar!”, dijo ella “El tratado de paz es a 15 años…Nos quedan 13 años no todo está vencido!” Un representante de la Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia y un miembro del partido político de las FARC (y una excombatiente) también habló sobre los esfuerzos en curso para implementar el acuerdo.

Juntos, las participantes identificaron varias prioridades clave para una implementación efectiva, que incluyen: mejorar la educación y crear conciencia para promover la paz entre la población; asegurar la implementación holística y coordinada del acuerdo de paz en todos los departamentos; fomentar el empoderamiento económico para construir una paz sostenible y duradera; y proteger los derechos de los líderes de la sociedad civil y los defensores de los derechos humanos. Las participantes destacaron que si las personas comienzan a interesarse y participar en la política, podrán apoyar la paz y empoderar a otros para que se involucren, enfatizaron los participantes. Hicieron hincapié en que es necesario trabajar en colaboración para la implementación del acuerdo de paz, especialmente sus disposiciones relativas a la igualdad de género y los derechos de las mujeres. Las periodistas que participaron en la reunión destacaron la importancia de resaltar el progreso que ya se ha logrado en la implementación del acuerdo de paz con las FARC, a fin de consolidar el apoyo al acuerdo de paz. Destacaron la importancia de publicar más historias con enfoque humano sobre el acuerdo de paz, para darle una cara y hacer que la población se sienta más cerca de él. Se comprometieron a presentar líderes femeninas que estén trabajando en la implementación del acuerdo de paz, para reconocer sus esfuerzos para construir una paz duradera en Colombia.

La Reunión Nacional de Paz fue parte de un proyecto más amplio, implementado por GNWP en asociación con RNM y con el apoyo de NORAD, cuyo objetivo es contribuir a construir una paz sostenible en Colombia a través de un enfoque doble. Por un lado, el proyecto mejora las capacidades de las mujeres locales para participar significativamente en la implementación de los acuerdos de paz. Por otro lado, apoya a las mujeres locales a desarrollar sus habilidades de negociación y desarrollar e implementar estrategias para abogar por el reinicio de las negociaciones con el ELN, para garantizar una paz completa en Colombia. GNWP y RNM llevarán a cabo la Localización del acuerdo de paz y desarrollarán capacidades para las mujeres en Cauca y Tolima en el último trimestre de 2019.

Colombia se encuentra en una coyuntura crítica. Para garantizar que continúe en el camino hacia la paz, es necesario incluir de manera significativa a mujeres líderes y organizaciones de derechos de las mujeres en la implementación del acuerdo de paz. Como Beatriz Quintero, Directora de RNM, compartió: “Vemos la oportunidad en paz, menos muertes, más posibilidades, pero tenemos que seguir luchando por ella”. Las mujeres son la piedra angular de la paz en Colombia, y no se detendrán en su búsqueda por ello.

Miembros del Consejo de Seguridad visitan Colombia

Solo tres semanas después de que GNWP organizara una Reunión Nacional de Paz en Bogotá, los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas visitaron Colombia del 11 al 14 de julio de 2019. Su visita marcó casi tres años desde la firma del acuerdo de paz con las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia ( Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC).

Los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad, invitados por el gobierno colombiano, viajaron al departamento de Bogotá y Cauca, incluyendo el Área Territorial de Santa Rosa para Capacitación y Reintegración. Durante el viaje, se reunieron con miembros de las FARC, partidos políticos, la sociedad civil, la Misión de Verificación de las Naciones Unidas (UNVM) y otras partes interesadas clave. La delegación reconoció los logros del proceso de paz hasta la fecha, como se destaca en el informe del Secretario General de la ONU del 26 de junio sobre la situación en Colombia. Alabaron las contribuciones de la UNVM y acogieron la solicitud del gobierno de extender la misión por un año más después de que su mandato expire en septiembre de 2019. Los miembros de la delegación también reconocieron el importante papel de los líderes jóvenes y mujeres para garantizar la implementación efectiva de la paz. acuerdo, previniendo la violencia y la inseguridad, y construyendo una paz inclusiva.

Sin embargo, la delegación reconoció los desafíos pendientes, incluida la lenta implementación del acuerdo de paz y las continuas amenazas para la sociedad civil y los líderes sociales. Solicitaron mayores esfuerzos para la implementación y una mayor colaboración entre el gobierno, las FARC y la sociedad civil.

Las conclusiones de la visita de los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad a Colombia reflejan algunas de las preocupaciones apremiantes de las mujeres líderes locales que participaron en la Reunión Nacional de Paz de GNWP. Cuando regresen a Nueva York, deben llevar consigo las demandas de las mujeres colombianas y seguir pidiendo al gobierno colombiano que garantice la seguridad de los líderes de la sociedad civil y los defensores de los derechos humanos, y la participación significativa de las mujeres en la implementación del acuerdo de paz entre el gobierno y las FARC.