Category: Georgia

Category: Georgia

GNWP Reports from Istanbul, Türkiye: “Women’s Networks WIN Together” Regional Conference on Networks across Women Peacebuilders and Mediators in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia

24 August 2023 by Natia Kostava* and Sophia Farion**

“Nothing survives without action. We need to be strategic, creative, innovative, resourceful and think outside the box to revitalize and sustain networks.” – Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

On 26 and 27 June 2023, women peacebuilders and mediators from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan convened in Istanbul, Türkiye, to exchange best practices and lessons learned. These women were gathered for the “Women’s Networks WIN Together” regional conference with the goal of revitalizing women’s networks on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and gender equality in their respective regions. The convening further offered one of the first opportunities since COVID-19 for local women peacebuilders and mediators to share updates on the status of National Action Plans (NAPs) on WPS in their countries. This intergenerational conference was organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) “WIN – Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” (WIN) project. 

The ongoing war in Ukraine has brought to the fore local and regional dimensions of unresolved conflicts and crises in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. For example, a refugee crisis across Eastern Europe, clashes over disputed territories in the South Caucasus and inter-communal violence in Central Asia. “The real knowledge about peacebuilding is on the ground. Usually, [this knowledge] is not only silenced at the local level, but women leaders’ voices are also absent at the international level,” stressed one of the conference participants. As local women peacebuilders and mediators continue to advocate for their full and meaningful participation in formal decision-making — a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable peace — participants emphasized how WPS networks remain crucial in promoting peace, conflict resolution and social cohesion.

While successful examples of WPS networks exist, many networks are unsustainable or ineffective as a result of insufficient and inflexible funding, re-emerging conflict and other factors. Furthermore, although a few cross-regional networks focus on WPS-related matters such as gender-based violence, there are no regional networks in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus or Central Asia dedicated to the implementation of the WPS agenda. To bridge the gap between women peacebuilders’ need for strong WPS networks and the current dearth of impactful options, GNWP’s “Women’s Networks WIN Together” conference transformed challenges, best practices and lessons learned from women peacebuilders and mediators on the ground into a strategy “roadmap” for efficient WPS networks. This roadmap will provide local and national civil society organizations with a practical guide to establishing, revitalizing and sustaining efficient networks on WPS and women’s meaningful participation in peace processes in the OSCE area.

To complement the efforts delineated in the strategy roadmap, each participant also crafted an individual action plan with three concrete SMART goals they committed to implementing in the coming months to revitalize a stalled or inefficient network of which they are members. These commitments ranged from sharing what they learned during the conference with their connections, to pitching a proposal to restructure their network’s operational model, to conducting training on WPS and leadership organized jointly by conference participants from different countries. “Through this event, I gained not only knowledge but also a renewed sense of motivation to actively participate in peacebuilding initiatives and support the rights and empowerment of women,” stated a Turkmen participant. GNWP will organize check-in meetings to follow up on the progress of the implementation of individual action plans in the fall of 2023.

The initial outcomes of these collective and individual revitalization efforts will culminate in January 2024, at a second OSCE conference in Vienna, Austria. During this convening, GNWP will introduce the finalized strategy roadmap, and women peacebuilders and mediators will have the opportunity to present their key messages to national and multilateral stakeholders. Participants will further engage in a constructive dialogue with key policymakers to jointly identify concrete actions and strategies for supporting women peacebuilders and mediators across the region. These discussions will contribute to building the capacity and momentum of women’s networks working to implement WPS across the regions. 

GNWP extends its gratitude to the OSCE for their continued support through the “WIN-Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” initiative. 

On 27 June 2023, GNWP, the OSCE and the UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office organized a side event featuring the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). It centered local women activists' key priorities and how the WPS-HA Compact can facilitate support for them. "Our objective now, given the pushbacks and challenges,” remarked Dr. Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Advisor on Gender Issues at the Office of the Secretary-General, “is to find ways to collectively push women's voices forward and put them into a discussion of peacebuilding and decision-making."

* Natia Kostava is the Program Officer for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).

** Sophia Farion is the Senior Program Officer for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia at GNWP.

The Importance of Women’s Rights in War and Peace: An Eastern Europe and South Caucasus case study

20 December 2022

By Beatriz Valdés Correa*

Prior to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine,[1] Ukrainian women’s organizations were focused on assembling a gender equality agenda covering fundamental women’s rights issues, such as guaranteeing women’s sexual and reproductive rights, fighting against domestic and sexual violence, and increasing women’s representation as decision-makers at both the local and national level. When war struck in 2014, it quickly became apparent that there were no tools in place to protect women against atrocious war crimes on top of an already urgent women’s rights agenda.

In 2016, the Ukrainian government adopted its National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). When Russia invaded the country again in 2022, Ukraine had the economic resources and protocols in place to respond to the damages that conflict and war have on women and girls.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for other Eastern European and South Caucasus countries. For example, since 2008, after 14 years of war with Russia, Georgia still has more than 200,000 forcibly displaced persons, many of whom are women that need vital support. In Moldova, the government and civil society have been struggling to accommodate the influx of more than 460,000 Ukrainian refugees since February 2022.

In countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova —– all countries that for the past 20 years have lived and suffered the consequences of war — – the implementation of UNSCR 1325 is moving forward at a much slower pace.

The Regional Conference on Women, Peace and Security in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus took place in Vienna from the 9-10 June 2022. It was convened by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Twenty women representatives from the above countries, accompanied by partners from Germany and Austria, discussed the following:

  • Accomplishments from the implementation of UNSCR 1325;
  • Challenges and recommendations for recognizing the differential effects of war on women in order to promote gender equality in peacebuilding;
  • Shared priorities to build solidarity and strengthen cooperation in response to the regional crisis; and
  • Intersections between the Women, Peace and Security and the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agendas, the Sustaining Peace resolutions, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Lack of financing and discrimination: the two sides of the same coin

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict [2] and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been key to States recognizing and implementing UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the region. Despite UNSCR 1325 being widely recognized as essential, it has been far harder to realize its implementation. “Implementation needs money. Years have gone by, and nothing has changed. We have concluded that without state structures, organizations are not strong enough to implement the resolution. We do not have the legal capabilities of doing it,” stated Sajida Abdulbahabova, Director at the Women’s Problems Research Union in Azerbaijan.

The same is true in Armenia. Knarik Mkrtchyan, a young woman peacebuilder, and representative of the organization Women’s Agenda, shared that they do not have financing from the government to implement the NAP. Still, with the work of other institutions and NGOs, they have managed to comprehensively advance the resolution and training of women as mediators.

In these two cases, along with Moldova, the lack of financing has impeded the process of Localization – GNWP’s pioneering strategy to convene important local actors to discuss how to effectively implement, or “localize,” the NAP in their community. While leaders recognize the success of this strategy and its ability to involve both local authorities and women from rural areas, there are still many regions to reach.

Underfunding of the WPS agenda and the implementation of UNSCR 1325 has had notable consequences, including a failure to address issues of low political participation and violence against women. In Armenia, Lida Minasyan, representative of Women’s Agenda, says the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has had serious repercussions, especially for young women: “We are seen only as mothers,” Minasyan stated. For Minasyan, women being sidelined as caregivers makes leadership difficult. “Women must take part in negotiations,” she insisted. 

In Moldova, Nina Lozinschi, representative of Gender-Centru, warned that violence against women continues and is disregarded. “We no longer have to deal with COVID-19. We have war, sexual abuses, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and criminal groups,” she explained.

Women’s rights: On pause because of war

As is the case in Ukraine, implementing UNSCR 1325 and financing women-led organizations and local authorities in times of peace might ease humanitarian action when conflict arrives.

It is also important that, despite conflict, countries do not ignore the rest of women’s rights. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GNWP explained, “When you have war, it is hard to safeguard non-conflict-related women’s rights because the infrastructure, including social institutions and government, is at its weakest point. Let’s say I am a Ukrainian woman and need sexual and reproductive health services, I need to access an abortion and the government’s response is: “Yes, I know, but our hospitals are hardly working. We have to care for wounded soldiers and feed our army because they are fighting for our country. You will have to wait.”

For Cabrera-Balleza, just like the other regional leaders, women’s rights, such as access to education and medical attention, cannot be ignored. On the contrary, the answer must come with alternative responses in the face of war. Some were proposed by the participants of the conference:

  • Strong commitment from governments to ensure dedicated funding for NAPs’ implementation and projects of local organizations;
  • Guarantee access to psychological and physical care, especially for gender-based violence survivors;
  • Invest in the Localization strategy to provide humanitarian aid to small and disadvantaged towns; and
  • Develop relationships with the media and establish other information channels that allow for useful and truthful information to reach people at risk, especially displaced women and girls, such as where to obtain humanitarian aid and other available services.

“Women’s rights must be respected, whether in war or peace, at all moments. That is why we refer to them as undivided rights, because they apply to all situations,” Cabrera-Balleza stated.

The conference ended with a conversation about Ukraine and a plea from women’s organizations: “Help us survive,” said Uliana Dorosh, Municipality Representative from Ukraine. Her message, and those of her partners, is directed toward women’s organizations around the world and the media, but above all, to the United Nations and the international community. “No one will be safe until the Russians are stopped: not Armenia, not Moldova, not Latvia, not anyone,” urged Maria Dmytrieva.


* Beatriz Valdés Correa is the first place winner of the first Global Media for WPS Award launched in March 2022. As part of her winning prize, she traveled to Vienna for the Regional Conference on WPS in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus hosted by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). This article is a reflection from Beatriz’s participation in the Regional Conference and will be published on the GNWP website as well as in a national newspaper in Colombia. This version has been translated from its original language, Spanish, for ease and distribution to global audiences.

[1] In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine to its territory.

[2] War erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region after the Soviet Union dissolution. GNWP works fervently with Armenian and Azerbaijani peacebuilders and relevant stakeholders to support the WPS and YPS agendas. It seeks to strengthen peacebuilding and trust building efforts between the two parties to promote inclusive and sustainable peace in the region.


La importancia de los derechos de las mujeres en la guerra y en la paz: El caso de estudio de Europa del Este y el Cáucaso Sur

Por Beatriz Valdés Correa*

Antes de la invasión de Rusia a Ucrania en 2014[1], las organizaciones de mujeres ucranianas estaban enfocadas en armar una agenda de equidad de género que garantizara los derechos sexuales y reproductivos de las mujeres, luchar contra la violencia en contexto doméstico y la violencia sexual y en trabajar con autoridades del nivel nacional y local para que las mujeres hicieran parte de la toma de decisiones. Cuando llegó la guerra en 2014, se hizo aparente la falta de herramientas para proteger a las mujeres de crímenes de guerra atroces, además de la agenda de derechos de las mujeres que ya era necesaria.

En 2016, el gobierno de Ucrania adoptó el Plan Nacional de Acción (PNA) en cumplimiento de la Resolución 1325 del Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas (RCSNU) sobre Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (MPS). Cuando Rusia nuevamente invadió el país en febrero de 2022, Ucrania tenía los recursos económicos y protocolos para atender las afectaciones que los conflictos armados generan en las mujeres y las niñas.

Sin embargo, esta no es la constante en los países de Europa del Este y el Cáucaso Sur. Por ejemplo, no es el caso de Georgia, que tras 14 años de la guerra con Rusia en 2008, todavía tiene más de 200,000 personas desplazadas, entre esas muchas mujeres a las que debe atender. En Moldavia, tanto el gobierno como la sociedad civil ha tenido que enfrentar diversos retos para albergar a más de 460,000 personas refugiadas ucranianas desde Febrero de 2022.

En Azerbaiyán, Moldavia, Armenia y Georgia – todos países vecinos que en los últimos 20 años han vivido y sufrido las consecuencias de las guerras – la implementación de la RCSNU 1325 avanza a un paso más lento y es frágil.

La Conferencia Regional sobre Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad en Europa del Este y el Cáucaso Sur, se llevó a cabo el 9 y 10 de Junio de 2022 en Viena. Fue convocada por la Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés), con el apoyo de la Agencia de Cooperación Austríaca para el Desarrollo (ADA). Veinte mujeres representantes de organizaciones de mujeres de los países mencionados anteriormente, así como acompañantes internacionales de Alemania y Austria, conversaron sobre:

  • Los avances de la implementación de la RCSNU 1325;
  • Retos y posibles soluciones para que los países de esta región reconozcan los impactos diferenciados de los conflictos en las mujeres, las protejan y las tengan en cuenta en la toma de decisiones para la construcción de la paz; y
  • Las sinergias entre las resoluciones de Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad, Juventud, Paz y Seguridad (JPS), y sobre las resoluciones sobre el Mantenimiento de Paz, así como de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible

Falta de financiación y discriminación: dos caras de la misma moneda

Los conflictos como el de Nagorno Karabaj[2] o la invasión rusa a Ucrania, han sido clave que los Estados reconozcan e implementen la RCSNU1325 sobre Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad en la región. Aunque se ha reconocido como esencial la RCSNU 1325, su implementación ha sido más difícil de lograr. “La implementación necesita dinero. Han pasado los años y no ha pasado nada. Hemos llegado a la conclusión que, sin estructuras estatales, las organizaciones no son lo suficientemente fuertes para implementar la resolución. No tenemos la posibilidad legal de hacerlo”, afirmó Sajida Abdulbahabova, directora del Sindicato de Investigación sobre los Asuntos de las Mujeres, de Azerbaiyán.

Lo mismo ocurre en Armenia. Knarik Mkrtchyan, representante de la Agenda de las Mujeres de este país y joven constructora de paz, contó que no cuentan con la financiación del gobierno para implementar el PNA. Sin embargo, a través del trabajo con algunas instituciones y organizaciones no gubernamentales han logrado avanzar en la comprensión de la Resolución y en la formación de mujeres mediadoras.

En estos dos casos, así como en Moldavia, la falta de financiación no ha permitido aumentar el alcance del proceso de Localización – la estrategia pionera de GNWP para organizar a actores locales clave para discutir cómo se puede implementar efectivamente, o “localizar”, el PNA en su comunidad. A pesar que las líderesas reconocen que ha sido un éxito y han logrado involucrar tanto a las autoridades locales como a las mujeres de áreas rurales, identifican que todavía quedan muchos lugares a los que deben llegar.

La escasez de financiamiento de la agenda MPS y la implementación de la RCSNU 1325 tiene como consecuencia la inacción frente a puntos cruciales como la participación política, la prevención de violencias y la atención a las mismas. En Armenia, según Lida Minasyan, representante de la Agenda de las Mujeres de Armenia, el conflicto Nagorno Karabaj dejó una consecuencia grave, sobre todo para las jóvenes: “Nos ven como potenciales madres”, dijo Minasyan. Para ella volver al paradigma de las mujeres relegadas únicamente al campo del cuidado representa un atraso que dificulta sus liderazgos. “Es crucial que las mujeres participen en las negociaciones”, insistió.

Por el lado de Moldavia, Nina Lozinschi, representante de Gender-Centru, advirtió que la violencia contra las mujeres continúa y no se le presta la suficiente atención. “Ya no tenemos Covid-19. Tenemos la guerra, abusos sexuales, trata de personas, explotación sexual y grupos criminales”, explicó Lozinschi.

Los derechos de las mujeres: en pausa por las guerras

Como sucedió en Ucrania en los primeros días de la invasión de este año, implementar la RCSNU 1325 y financiar las organizaciones lideradas por mujeres y autoridades locales, podría hacer menos complicada la acción humanitaria cuando el conflicto se presente.

Es importante que, a pesar del conflicto, los países no ignoren los -otros- derechos de las mujeres. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, fundadora y CEO de lGNWP, lo explica así: “Cuando tienes guerra es difícil lograr otros derechos de las mujeres porque la base, que son las instituciones sociales, incluido el gobierno, está en su punto más débil. Digamos que soy ucraniana y necesito Servicios de Atención a la Salud Sexual y Reproductiva. Necesito abortar y el gobierno puede decir: “sí, lo sabemos, pero nuestros hospitales apenas funcionan. Tenemos que atender a los soldados heridos, tenemos que alimentar a nuestro ejército porque están defendiendo a nuestro país. Deberás esperar”.

Para Cabrera-Balleza, igual que para otras líderesas de la región, no se pueden perder de vista derechos como el acceso a la educación o la atención médica. Por el contrario, la respuesta debería venir con alternativas posibles en la guerra. Algunas de estas fueron propuestas por las asistentes a la conferencia: 

  • Que los donantes conozcan y crean en la necesidad de financiar los PNA y los proyectos de las organizaciones;
  • Garantizar el acceso a una atención psicológica y física adecuada, especialmente para sobrevivientes de violencias de género;
  • Apostarle a aplicar la estrategia de localización para dar ayuda humanitaria a las comunidades pequeñas y desprotegidas; y
  • Tejer relaciones con medios de comunicación y establecer otros canales de información que permitan entregar información útil y veraz a las personas en riesgo, especialmente a las mujeres y niñas desplazadas, como dónde obtener ayuda humanitaria y otros servicios disponibles.

“Los derechos de las mujeres deben ser respetados, ya sea en la guerra o en la paz, en todo momento. Por eso nos referimos a ellos como indivisibles, porque se aplican en todas las situaciones”, dice Cabrera-Balleza.

El encuentro terminó con una conversación sobre Ucrania y un llamado claro de las mujeres: “Ayúdennos a sobrevivir”, dijo Uliana Dorosh, Representante Municipal de Ucrania. Su mensaje, como el de sus compañeras, estuvo dirigido a las organizaciones de mujeres de los demás países y a los medios de comunicación, pero también, y sobre todo, a las Naciones Unidas y a la comunidad internacional. “Hasta que los rusos no se detengan, ninguna nación estará a salvo: ni Armenia ni Moldavia ni Latvia ni nadie”, afirmó María Dmytrieva.


* Beatriz Valdés Correa es ganadora del primer lugar del Primer Premio Global sobre Medios y MPS llevado a cabo en Marzo de 2022. Como parte de su premio, viajó a Viena para la Conferencia Regional sobre MPS en Europa del Este y el Cáucaso Sur organizado por la Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Agencia de Cooperación Austríaca para el Desarrollo (ADA, por sus siglas en inglés).

[1] En febrero y marzo de 2014, Rusia invadió y posteriormente anexó la península ucraniana de Crimea a su territorio.

[2] La Guerra estalló entre Armenia y Azerbaiyán por la región en disputa después de la desintegración de la Unión Soviética. GNWP trabaja fervientemente con constructoras de paz y actores clave importantes de Armenia y Azerbaiyán para apoyar las Agendas MPS y JPS. Busca fortalecer los esfuerzos de construcción de paz y generación de confianza entre las partes para promover una paz sostenible e inclusiva en la región.

Young Women building bridges in Georgia: Launch of Georgia’s Young Women Leaders for Peace program

14 June, 2021

By Michaela Zelenanska, Peacebuilding Programs Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, GNWP

“To me, peace means being able to move freely, cross the border you see behind me. But I cannot do it.” –Georgian participant talking about what peace and security means to them.

“Peace means stability, access to economic opportunities. In the villages along the Administrative Border Line people do not have access to jobs. Living here means being stressed all the time.” – Georgian participant talking about living along the Administrative Border Line separating Georgia from the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The quotes above are how young women from Georgia describe peace in their country. Economic opportunities, mental health, wellbeing, and mobility are the key attributes missing from their lives. They still feel the impacts of war – which officially ended in 2008, when many of them were still young children. They are determined, and ready to work towards sustainable peace.

To support young women’s leadership in peacebuilding, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the IDP Women Association ‘’Consent’’, organized an introductory three-day training on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and peacebuilding for young women and men in Georgia. The event took place on April 24-26 2021 and was supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The participants had the opportunity to analyse the relevance of these critical agendas for young people in Georgia and to talk about the importance of youth-led initiatives in building sustainable peace. The training also served as a launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Georgia.   

GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace Program

Since 2014, the GNWP´s YWL program has supported more than 7,000 young women in conflict-affected countries and communities to enhance their skills, capacities and resilience and fully realize their potential as leaders and agents of peace. The program is being implemented in seven countries outside of Georgia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Ukraine. GNWP has worked with its partners and young women to tailor a methodology to the context and needs of each participating country. They have also supported young women to run their own peacebuilding initiatives – from organizing community peace dialogues, to teaching literacy in refugee camps, to running civic education campaigns via social media.

During the Georgia training event the GNWP team shared the achievements of the young women peacebuilders with the 20 young women and men participants.  The participants were excited by the impact of these young women and inspired to join the YWL networks.

The participants shared their perspective on the situation in their country. Many of the young people were directly affected by the long conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia: two regions that have seceded from Georgia and formally declared independence in 1999 and 1991 respectively. Even though the conflict in Georgia is often described as “frozen”, it still has tangible impacts on the lives of Georgian people – including young women and men. Some of the participants were internally displaced or lived in the so-called ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) villages, where skirmishes still happen. Therefore they feel the consequences of the conflict every day.

Throughout the training, the young participants became acquainted with the WPS and YPS agendas. They showed a very good understanding of the effects of conflict and violence on women and young people. Thanks to the engaging “crash course” on peacebuilding, organized by Yago Pasandze, Executive Director of NGO Saunje and youth trainer, the participants were able to discuss and explore specific concepts, such as peace trust recovery, democracy and justice, and their relevance to their own situations. They also directly applied their newly-gained knowledge through interactive exercises.

A crucial part of the training was reflecting on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Georgia. Participants shared personal stories about the impacts of the pandemic on their communities – including increased domestic violence and negative effects on women´s rights, as well the negative effects of the pandemic on education – schools were closed in Georgia during certain periods of the national lockdown that affected access to education.

All the young people who participated in the training emphasized the necessity of achieving a sustainable peace in Georgia. They also highlighted the role of young people in conflict resolution. The participants were primarily from the new generation that does not remember the once peaceful coexistence of Georgians and Abkhazians. Nevertheless, they shared their hope that it would be their generation who would build the bridges between the two sides of the border. 

The 3-day training was full of inspiration and motivation. The GNWP team was glad to see the enthusiasm of the participants, and look forward to continuing the implementation of the YWL program in Georgia. Didi madloba!

Young women’s drawn responses to the question: “What does peace mean to you?”

Media as an Ally in Peacebuilding, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

May 3, 2021

By Wevyn Muganda, GNWP’s Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow and Michaela Zelenanska, GNWP’s Peacebuilding Program Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) celebrates World Press Freedom Day by highlighting the importance of independent media in building peaceful, gender-equal, and inclusive societies. Journalists play a key role in spreading information about the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and in highlighting women’s roles as leaders, peacebuilders, and decision-makers. GNWP’s “Full-cycle Implementation” of WPS strategy incorporates the critical work of the media, taking a multidimensional approach across three main areas:

  1. Training of journalists and other media practitioners, to increase their understanding of their role in promoting the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the supporting WPS resolutions and encourage them to portray women in their diverse roles including as leaders, peacebuilders, and decision-makers;
  2. Development of Media and WPS strategies to guide stronger and more systematic collaboration between the media, women peacebuilders and national and local government actors; and
  3. Media and WPS (#MediaFor1325) competitions, to create incentives and recognize the gender-responsive coverage of issues related to peace and security.

The #MediaFor1325 competitions provide an incentive for journalists to integrate a gender lens into their reporting on peace and conflict issues, and raise awareness of the WPS agenda. As a result, they contribute to shifting the perception of women as passive victims to recognizing women as agents of peace. Since 2018, the GNWP in partnership with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) held six media competitions in Colombia, Georgia, Moldova, Kenya, the Philippines, and Ukraine.

This year, we commemorate World Press Freedom Day with a throwback to some of the winning materials.

The work of women peacebuilders in Colombia has been indispensable to reaching and signing the peace agreement between the government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and remains critical in monitoring its implementation. It is important that the invaluable contribution of women peacebuilders in Colombia is recognized and made visible to change the public narrative on women’s role in peace processes and in leadership. GNWP, in partnership with Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) and with support from Norad, trained journalists on the WPS agenda and the role the media plays to promote effective implementation. The training was followed by a national #MediaFor1325 competition organized in August 2020, in partnership with Pacifista – a media collective dedicated to promoting journalism rooted in peace and human rights principles. The competition had two categories: professional journalists and journalism students. Additionally, a special prize was awarded for work that provided an original angle on women’s leadership in peacebuilding. The winning podcast, by Lidha Beltrán Valero, highlights women’s experiences in challenging patriarchy, preventing violence and sustaining peace in local communities. Jeimmy Lorena Gutiérrez Turmequé, with her piece about Indigenous leaders from Xuacha, was awarded the students category and the special prize.

With support from ADA, GNWP and its Georgian partner, Women’s Information Center (WIC), organized an online training series for journalists. The training aimed to increase the awareness of Georgian journalists on their roles in supporting gender equality, women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of Georgia’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325, and in promoting gender- and conflict-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The journalists expressed appreciation for the knowledge and skills they acquired and committed to being more gender-sensitive in conflict reporting in order to influence the public narrative on women’s roles in peace processes. The training was accompanied by a national #MediaFor1325 competition. The winning article by Nino Chibchiuri discusses the lives of women on the occupation line and how the pandemics negatively affected them. Other awarded articles feature women entrepreneurs and the struggles of peace activists in Abkhazia. “During the pandemic, rural women showed solidarity with each other and helped others as much as they could,” Chibchiuri stressed.

“Rural women during the pandemic showed solidarity with each other and helped others as much as they could.” -Nino Chibchiuri, 2020 winning journalist in Georgia

In Ukraine, GNWP and Democracy Development Center have conducted a series of training with journalists since 2017. These trainings have been instrumental in raising the journalists’ awareness of their important role in shaping public opinions on women’s leadership in peace processes. It has also become pivotal in integrating the media in the implementation of the WPS agenda. The 2020 media competition was organized in partnership with Ukraine’s State Radio and Television Broadcasting Commission. Dmytro Semenyuk’s winning entry focuses on breaking stereotypes and highlighting the active role women play in patrol policing to prevent violence. “Women have become indispensable in resolving conflicts,” Semenyuk expressed.  Olga Chernykova, the author of another winning article describes an inspiring life story of a woman journalist who had to flee her home city due to the violent conflict.

These powerful stories show that women around the world share similar struggles and continue to work for the advancement of women’s rights, peace, and justice in their communities. On this World Press Freedom Day, GNWP commits to continue to work with journalists in amplifying the voices of women peacebuilders across the world!