The Global Acceleration Instrument (GAI) for Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action was officially launched on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, at the Japan Society in New York. The event, (a sit-down breakfast by invitation only) was hosted by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Australia, Ireland, Japan, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United Kingdom in partnership with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, UN Women, and Cordaid.
The GAI is a unique financing mechanism that supports quality interventions to enhance the capacity to prevent conflict, respond to crises and emergencies, seize key peacebuilding opportunities, and encourage the sustainability and national ownership of investments. A minimum of fifty percent of all GAI funds is set to be allocated to civil society organizations (CSOs) making the GAI an innovative and much-needed funding instrument for those who are too often left out of the recipient pool. The GAI is a truly collaborative initiative that brings together all the key stakeholders in an unprecedented manner to address the funding gaps for women’s participation by improving the timeliness, predictability and flexibility of international assistance. The GAI will ensure that women’s groups are not only recipients of funding but true to the spirit of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, they will have a say in decision-making for how funds are raised and managed. CSOs will have a presence at every level of implementation; from the international funding board to the national steering committee, and down to the organizations carrying out projects in the field thus, ensuring transparency and accountability. Bridging the gap between the local and the global, the GAI is changing the way we think about multi-stakeholder funding mechanisms.
Over sixty guests including representatives from Member States, CSOs, donor organizations and UN entities attended the event in support of the initiative. The event highlighted the impact of women’s CSOs in conflict resolution, crisis management, peace negotiations, humanitarian and emergency assistance, and building sustainable peace.
The Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, H.E Ambassador David Donoghue opened the event by emphasizing the importance of financing for women’s organizations working in conflict affected areas and stressed the need for better coherence among all stakeholders.
Following the Ambassador, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in Sierra Leone Mr. Moijue Kaikai gave opening remarks. Minister Kaikai called for greater participation of the international community to meet the challenges for full and effective implementation of peace. He highlighted the need for a more coordinated approach towards sustainable peace and development, which he said could be achieved through sustained investment in women and girls. He urged the participants to challenge themselves to intensify and assist the construction of peace with meaningful resources to strengthen civil society’s efforts.
Speaking for women on the ground, women peace builders from Burundi, (Ms. Goretti Ndacayisaba, Executive Director of DUSHIREHAMWE), Colombia (Ms. Danny Ramirez, member of Coalitión 1325) and Jordan (Ms. Samar Muhareb, Co-founder and Director of ARDD-Legal Aid) talked about their work in these three unique contexts; illustrating in real terms the accelerated impact on sustainable peace achieved through investing in women’s organizations and gender equality.
Ms. Ndacayisaba noted that women’s organizations are a powerful force for peace and development. To this end, she stated that as a pilot country of the GAI, Burundi is effectively using the funds and noted that with further support from the international community, women’s organizations could do much more for a long lasting peace in the region.
Ms. Muhareb echoed Ms. Ndacayisaba’s sentiments by stating that economic support is crucial for meaningful participation of women across different cultures and nationalities.
Ms. Ramirez, while addressing the donors, reiterated the important role of local women in implementing peace and the need to focus on their work and provide funding to them in a timely manner. She maintained that sustainable peace could not be achieved without the meaningful participation of women in the peace processes. She cited the “Havana Peace Talks” as a great example of meaningful inclusion of women in the peace process.
Highlighting the GAI’s core competencies and objectives the UN Women Deputy Director and Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Yannick Glemarec stressed that GAI will break silos, serve as the knowledge hub and improve coordination among all the stakeholders. Mr. Glemarec’s presentation was followed by remarks by the Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, H. E Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa who assured the participants of Japan’s interest in supporting GAI and that he would take the important information from the launch back to his government to solicit monetary support for the GAI.
Further, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, Baroness Verma expressed her strong commitment to the GAI and stressed that it can be used to channel funds where most needed in order to support women’s organizations working on the ground.
Following Baroness Verma, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN, H.E. Ambassador Caitlin Wilson, representing GAI’s largest donor to date, expressed the motivation behind Australia’s decision to contribute to the fund, which is driven by country’s commitment to support women on the ground through capacity building by providing sustained funding to them and reiterated continued support for GAI on behalf of her government.
Ms. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, the International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Ms. Simone Filippini, the CEO of Cordaid, gave closing remarks by underlining the importance of contributing to the fund.
Ms. Filippini asked the participants to “walk the talk and work as a team.” She expressed concern over the fact that there was too large a gap between theory and practice when she posed the question to the audience. “How accountable are we in the promises we make?”
In the end, Ms. Cabrera-Balleza thanked Australia, Ireland, Spain and UK for supporting the GAI and hoped that more donors will do the same. She stated, “The door is open. We encourage other donors to come through the door and make contributions to the GAI. Invest in women. Accelerate peace!”
The GAI launch is a testament to the efforts of all the stakeholders in effectively addressing the issue of funding inadequacies in order to ensure that women’s organizations working on the ground, especially in conflict-affected areas, receive support to the realization of peace, justice, and equality.
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By Saadia Khan, Project Staff, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders