Women and youth peacebuilders provide vital assistance to counter COVID-19 in areas affected by violent conflicts. They need lifesaving resources today. During this growing pandemic, they face great risks to their health and safety. Your gift ensures that women and youth peacebuilders are able to purchase face masks, disinfectants, disseminate factual information to prevent mass panic, and are able to respond quickly to the crisis.
55+ Women and Youth Organizations and Networks Launch the Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security – Youth, Peace, and Security Action Coalition
On December 12th, 2019, 55+ organizations and networks representing over 35 countries from all regions of the world launched the Beijing+25 Women, Peace, and Security – Youth, Peace, and Security Action Coalition in New York and online. They expressed concerned about the weak participation of women and young women peacebuilders in regional Beijing +25 consultations. They vowed to advocate for strong language on Women, Peace, and Security and Youth, Peace, and Security in the outcome documents of the Beijing +25 processes.
The WPS-YPS Action Coalition’s objectives are to:
1. Increase awareness of civil society organizations, in particular grassroots organizations working in conflict affected countries and territories about the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Beijing +25 process and ensure that their key messages on the WPS and YPS Agendas are reflected in all discussions on Beijing +25, including the Generation Equality Global Forum and their outcome documents;
2. Improve coordination and collaboration among civil society organizations that advocate for the effective implementation of the YPS and WPS resolutions in order to strengthen impact of advocacy with Member States, UN entities, regional organizations in the lead up to the Generation Equality Global Forum and beyond;
3. Facilitate discussions on the intersection of WPS and YPS with the other thematic focuses of the Generation Equality Forum namely, environmental conservation; protection and rehabilitation; freedom from violence; stigma and stereotypes; poverty eradication; social protection and social services; inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions;
4. Produce a WPS-YPS advocacy paper that strongly reflects local voices and brings together key civil society advocacy messages and asks from all sub-thematic areas of the WPS and YPS Agendas, including their intersections with the other thematic areas of the Generation Equality Global Forum; and
5. Present core messages in the WPS-YPS advocacy paper in all key events on Beijing + 25, 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and 5th anniversary of UNSCR 2250; and advocate for their integration into the Beijing+25 Feminist and Women’s Movement Action Plan as well as in 2020 reports of the Secretary-General on WPS and YPS.
The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action coincides with two other important anniversaries: the 20th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS); and the 5th anniversary of UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). WPS and YPS agendas recognize the agency and critical roles played by women and young women in conflict-resolution, conflict-prevention, prevention of sexual violence in conflict, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace. Strong synergy between the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the WPS and YPS resolutions is necessary to build intersectional solidarity and galvanize global action on women’s rights, gender equality, peaceful and inclusive societies.
To join the B+25 WPS-YPS Global Coalition listserv, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/6Z7tsyj8xe8bPneU7
For more information, please contact: Mallika Iyer, Program Officer, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders; Mallika@gnwp.org
The Fourth World Women’s Conference was held over a two-week period in Beijing, China in September 1995. The Conference provided a forum for thousands of delegates representing 189 countries and approximately 30,000 activists to collaborate on the most ambitious framework for the advancement of women’s rights to date. This collaborative process, which involved debate, negotiation, lobbying and networking between stakeholders resulted in the policy framework called the Beijing Platform for Action.
The Beijing Platform outlined twelve critical areas of concern for the advancement of women’s rights, which continue to be relevant today. They deal with the relationships between women and: Poverty; Education and training; Health; Violence against women; Armed Conflict; Economy; Power and decision-making; Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; Human rights; Media; Environment; and the girl child.
GNWP welcomes 4th Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow: Heela Yoon from Afghanistan
November 25, 2019 by Beatriz Ciordia
“I grew up in a patriarchal society where women face harassment and discrimination on a daily basis. Women make up 48.45% of the Afghan population. Only 19% women have college education; and only 16% women are in the labor force. Say something else for example on access to reproductive health care; 17.65% women in the cabinet; women’s economic rights before jumping into their representation in the Parliament. Only 25.6% of the Afghan lower house are women. Only 26% are in the High Peace Council. Only 20% women participated in the peace talks in Doha. “
“72% of the Afghan population lives in rural areas and yet, local women are not involved in the peace talks or in the development of the National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). It is time for the Afghan Government and international community to realize that UNSCR 1325 is not just for women in Kabul but also in rural areas.”
Despite having just arrived in New York, the words of Heela Yoon resonated with those who took part in the events for the 19th anniversary of UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Heela recently joined GNWP as the fourth recipient of the Cora Weiss Fellowship for Young Women Peacebuilders, which supports the development of young women peacebuilders. The Fellowship honors Cora Weiss, a life-long women’s rights, human rights, and peace activist who is one of the civil society drafters of UNSCR 1325.
Prior to joining GNWP, Heela worked as a desk officer and coordinator for the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, where she was also a member of the committee for implementing UNSCR 1325. Currently, she is a member of Global Nomads Group and the Soola School of Leadership Afghanistan.
Heela’s commitment to uplifting women from poverty and illiteracy encouraged her to establish the Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association which seeks to strengthen and empower women and improve their participation in state-building and peacebuilding processes. Heela graduated from Kabul University with a bachelor in Law and Political Science in 2017, and is currently pursuing a bachelor degree in Business Administration at the American University of Afghanistan.
As a Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow, Heela will be part of GNWP’s International Coordinating Team for one year, where she will work to promote the effective implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 2250, as well as the supporting resolutions on WPS, and Youth, Peace and Security, (YPS), particularly at the national and local levels. She will also participate in the coordination of GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership Program which aims to build the capacities of young women in conflict-affected areas and in humanitarian situations with a specific focus on leadership, literacy, peacebuilding, preventing violent extremism, and economic empowerment.
To learn more about Heela and her work at GNWP, listen to this month’s podcast! Heela also discusses some of the challenges she encountered in the implementation of the WPS resolutions at the local level, as well as her thoughts on the future of the WPS and YPS Agenda in her country.
Failing justice systems – women and girls are victims of the systems designed to protect them
September 16, 2019 by Eliza Beckerman-Lee
Edited by Katrina Leclerc
Cyntoia Brown was 16 years old when she received her life sentence by the United States justice system, on August 7th, 2019 at age 31, she walked free after spending the last 15 years – her entire young adulthood – behind bars.
In 2006, Brown was convicted of aggravated robbery and first-degree murder for killing Johnny Allen, a Tennessee real-estate agent who had picked Cyntoia up at a Sonic restaurant and taken her home to have intercourse. The sentencing laws in Tennessee allow for minors tried as adults to be sentenced to life in prison and only eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 51 years – the longest minimum sentencing in the country. Cyntoia’s case received international attention that eventually led to her clemency, granted by then-Governor Bill Haslam, as the #MeToo movement highlighted stories of women and girls who were survivors of gender-based sexual violence in the US. These stories emphasized how young women are victims themselves in such situations, despite being prosecuted as criminals.
At the age of 16, Brown was forced into prostitution by her then-boyfriend, a man called “Cut Throat.” Brown was still a minor when Johnny Allen picked her up outside a Sonic restaurant and took her home where he proceeded to show off his gun collection. Cyntoia has never denied killing Johnny Allen; she even stated at a 2018 hearing that “Johnny Allen’s life mattered,” but the circumstances of her case expose the harsh reality that young women, especially women of color, who are victims of sex trafficking and gender-based violence do not have access to equal justice. The current narrative places blame on women and girls alone, framing them as criminals instead of victims in their own right.
While incarcerated, Brown started on a more positive path, earning post-secondary degrees and assuming the role of both a mentor and advocate for women in prison. Brown became a champion for education in prisons and encouraged others to pursue higher education while inside, whether or not they were getting out or sentenced to life like herself.
Cyntoia Brown’s story is a major triumph but reveals the overwhelming reality… the United States has a lot farther to go in ensuring that victims of gender-based sexual violence have access to justice. Brown’s story is more the norm than the exception; take Ashlee Sellars for example, a woman who befriended Brown while the two were incarcerated together. Sellars was sentenced to prison when she was just 17 years old and served more than 21 years before her eventual release from the Tennessee Prison for Women at age 38. Since her release, Sellars has committed her life outside of prison to working with Restorative Justice programs.
It’s not just the forcing of women into prostitution that strips them of their freedoms, but the institutionalized persecution and oppression by the justice systems that further marginalizes young women and girls. Instead of seeing these women as survivors of sexual violence, the system frames victimized women as criminals and funnels them into prison. While we often think of sex trafficking cases like the Iraqi Yazidis, the United States also has many gaps in accountability and lacks a survivor-centered approach to justice for victims of sexual violence.
In 2013, the World Health Organization wrote “when more than one in three women worldwide (35.6%) have reported having experienced sexual or physical violence, then violence against women evidently “pervades all corners of the globe’” and national studies show that gender-based violence affects “35 to 70 percent of women and girls globally”. Despite these pandemic proportions, “the majority of women…subjected to gender-based violence do not seek justice…because they fear further violence and/or have no confidence in the justice system,” which is why effort must be put into drafting and promoting legislation that seeks justice for survivors of gender-based sexual violence instead of sending them to prison.
The United Nations Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security reminds us that sustaining peace is only possible if we include women in policy decisions and consider their specific needs in order to address them on a global scale. Women and girls who are survivors of gender-based sexual violence as well as those incarcerated or formerly incarcerated need to be at the table leading these conversations in order to change cultural narratives. Studies also show Restorative Justice programs to reduce recidivism rates by 3% and unlike punitive policing, they help women and girls become positive contributors to society and reclaim their space as survivors, not victims. Moreover, there can only be true justice when the perpetrators of sexual violence are the ones being held accountable.
 Timms, Mariah. “Cyntoia Brown’s Release Is Only the Start of Her Transition Back into Society. Just Ask Ashlee Sellars.” The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessean, 6 Aug. 2019, www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/08/06/cyntoia-brown-prison-release-transition/1782724001/.
 Gormley, Lisa, et al. “Women’s Access to Justice for Gender-Based Violence.” The International Commission of Jurists, 2016.
 Bonta, James. “RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND RECIDIVISM.” Ontario, Jan. 2003.
GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership Program Coordinator receives Peace Education Award
August 22, 2019 by Anne Campbell
Edited by Beatriz Ciordia
On May 11th, 2019, GNWP’s Communications and Program Coordinator, Katrina Leclerc, was awarded the Anne Goodman Award for Peace Education by the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW). This annual award is given to a woman dedicated to advancing peace education and gender equality at home and abroad.
Katrina is a force to be reckoned with. She has dedicated her life to supporting the advocacy efforts of young women leaders through GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL) programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. In addition to her position at GNWP, Katrina is the full-time Parliamentary Affairs Advisor to Senator Marilou McPhedran – the youngest person to hold this position in the Parliament of Canada. As a young leader, she uses her position in Ottawa and at GNWP to inspire women around her, as well as to mentor many young girls around the world. Recently, she co-founded the Canadian Council of Young Feminists to further this mentorship and facilitation of young people at the decision-making table. Her current work in the DRC, through GNWP, focuses on broadening the independence of young Congolese women through economic empowerment and livelihood projects.
Recognized as Canada’s oldest national feminist peace group, VOW plays a major role in building cultures of peace and advocating for women’s rights locally, nationally and internationally.