Category: GNWP Blog

Category: GNWP Blog

GNWP signs the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action!

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to be a Board Member and signatory to the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA).

The Compact was launched as part of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), which took place in Paris between 30 June and 2 July 2021. The GEF was created to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. Despite global efforts, such as the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, gender equality progress has been slow, inconsistent, and risks further destabilization from armed conflicts, humanitarian crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other global issues such as climate change and economic injustice. The GEF’s purpose was to rally governments, activists, corporations, and civil rights groups to achieve change through ambitious investments and actionable policies.

What is the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action?

One of the key outcomes of the GEF was the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). The Compact is an inter-generational global movement that aims to accelerate implementation, strengthen accountability, and mobilize funding for the Women Peace & Security (WPS) agenda and gender equality in Humanitarian Action.

Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Peacebuilders, describes the Compact as:

“An opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get the job done! GNWP will work with all partners to build a vibrant, intersectional, and intergenerational global movement for sustainable peace, gender equality, and feminist humanitarian action, which champions the leadership of local women, young women, adolescent girls, and LGTBQIA+ persons.”

Over the next five years, the Compact will be guided by a framework that provides a clear path for concerted action for Member States, United Nations entities, regional organizations, civil society, private sector actors, and academic institutions. The Compact Framework includes specific actions across five thematic areas:

  • Financing the WPS Agenda and gender equality in humanitarian programming
  • Women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and the inclusion of gender-related provisions in peace processes
  • Women’s economic security, access to resources, and other essential services
  • Women’s leadership and full, equal, and meaningful participation across peace, security, and humanitarian sectors
  • Protecting and promoting women’s human rights in conflict and crisis contexts 

Critically, the Compact Framework must be implemented in synergy with the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, a set of multistakeholder partnerships to catalyze collective action and deliver concrete results for women and girls. A monitoring scheme to assess the implementation of the Framework will be developed by the Compact Board and Catalytic members. The specific actions outlined in the Framework will be mapped against existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

GNWP’s commitment to the Compact

Along with Member States, UN entities, regional organizations, civil society organizations, private sector actors, and academic institutions, GNWP is proud to be a signatory to the Compact. GNWP has committed to 13 actions across four thematic areas of the Framework which will be implemented by:

  • Expanding and reinforcing partnerships with national and local women’s rights organizations to strengthen their capacity and eligibility to receive and manage donor funding, and eliminate barriers to financing for grassroots CSOs;
  • Growing and strengthening partnerships with youth-led and young women-focused organizations and networks to embed their priorities in YPS and WPS advocacy;
  • Providing technical and advisory support to women mediators and women peacebuilders in peace processes including through creating and sustaining systematic links between formal and informal peace processes;
  • Recognizing and engaging men and boys as partners and gender equality allies in addressing and reversing harmful gender norms; and 
  • Promoting the inclusion of gender-related provisions in all ceasefire and peace agreements in humanitarian assistance and delivery.

GNWP recognizes that effective implementation of the Compact Framework is contingent on the leadership, ownership, and participation of women and young women peacebuilders from conflict and crisis-affected communities. In the lead-up to the Paris Forum, GNWP convened 130 participants from over 35 countries in a Civil Society Briefing on 25 June 2021, to raise awareness of the Compact and its framework, and solicit support from national and local women’s civil society organizations and youth organizations for its implementation.

GNWP encourages women’s civil society organizations and youth groups, particularly from conflict and crisis-affected communities, to review the Compact Framework and register as Signatories.

Changing the Narrative: Journalists as Allies for Peace in the Philippines

May 18, 2021

By John Rizle Saligumba, Communications Coordinator, Balay Mindanaw and Mallika Iyer, Asia Programs Coordinator and Humanitarian Action Specialist, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders 

In 2010, the Philippines was the first Asian country to adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 – a critical step towards addressing the situation of women in armed conflict and recognizing women’s contributions to conflict transformation. The NAP on UNSCR 1325 reinforced the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710), which was adopted in 2008 to enshrine the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Despite the adoption of these important national frameworks, genuine implementation has not yet been accomplished. 

Armed conflict and increased activity amongst violent extremist groups continue to disproportionately impact women, young women, and girls, particularly from religious or Lumad (indigenous) minority groups in the Philippines. Forced displacement, child marriage, sexual violence, trafficking, food and economic insecurity, limited access to health care and education, and recruitment and radicalization by armed groups are all realities experienced by women, young women, and girls in conflict and crisis-affected communities across the Philippines. 

The peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), ratified as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), addresses the gendered impacts of armed conflict and ensures women’s meaningful participation in post-conflict recovery and decision-making on peace and security. The recently adopted Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan (RAP) on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) furthers these objectives through a focus on leadership of women in local Peace and Order Councils and gender-responsive humanitarian emergency response for displaced women and girls. If implemented effectively, the BOL and RAP on WPS could transform gender inequalities and build inclusive, long-lasting peace in the Bangsamoro Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). 

Challenges to Implementation 

Disinformation, misinformation, and fake news have contributed to a lack of broad-based local ownership and support for the implementation of the BOL and a peaceful transition to the BARMM. Delays in the development of an electoral code, amongst other key frameworks in line with the BOL, have furthered distrust amongst the local population and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). In the meantime, clashes continue between violent extremist groups, including Abu Sayaff, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Philippine Armed Forces. Violence committed by extremist groups and clan feuds, compounded by fake news, threaten the peaceful transition to the BARMM and could lead to a return to insecurity and armed conflict. 

The peace process between the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the Philippine government has deteriorated, following violent clashes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The conflict led to deliberate disruption and delays in the delivery of life-saving COVID-19 relief goods, leaving countless frontline women peacebuilders at risk. Misinformation disseminated by biased Filipino media agencies heavily contributed to false accusations and increased violence between the two warring parties. As a result, the ceasefires declared by the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA-NDF were short-lived, despite the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 crisis. The failure to uphold the ceasefires by the CPP-NPA-NDF and the government of the Philippines ultimately aggravated prospects of peace negotiations and increased the incidence of violent clashes between the two warring parties. 

The important role of journalists 

Journalism plays a critical role in countering misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. It can build broad-based support for sustainable and inclusive peacebuilding, promoting women’s meaningful participation and leadership in decision-making on peace and security. Mass media has the power to not only break the traditionally conservative stereotypes around gender and women portrayed as victims of conflict but also hold governments to account on issues of women, peace and security. Journalists in the Philippines have the power to share accurate information on the implementation of the BOL and generate support for women’s leadership in peacebuilding in the BARMM. They can also hold the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA-NDF accountable for the protection of women’s rights and human rights, in line with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the only agreement signed by the warring parties. 

To generate and sustain interest amongst journalists around gender-sensitive reporting on the ongoing peace processes in the Philippines, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Balay Mindanaw, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), launched a national media competition on International Women’s Day in March 2020. The “Women, Peace, and Security Reporting Awards” was created to: 

  • Encourage journalists to  produce engaging stories to promote the implementation of the BOL;
  • Support the smooth transition to the BARMM;
  • Communicate the importance of inclusive and sustainable peace processes which address the root causes of conflict between the Government of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA-NDF; and
  • Shift the dominant perception of women as victims to agents of change.

GNWP and Balay Mindanaw received  68 entries from 38 authors. Many of the entries discussed the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities affected by the transition to the BARMM or the ongoing peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF. They also highlighted the significant contributions of local women and youth peacebuilders in leading COVID-19 relief and recovery. 

On March 8, 2021, an online award ceremony was held to recognize the following winning submissions: 

Winning Submission for Photojournalism Category

Pandemic Worsens Situation of Young Mothers in Conflict Areas by Mark Saludes

A photo essay of women who are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. The essay’s subjects are also caught in the midst of an armed conflict and the underlying socio-economic, political, and cultural exclusion in Maida, Maguindanao province in the BARMM. The essay captures the gendered impacts of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing armed conflict. The story also highlights the efforts of some groups to include reproductive health products in COVID-19 relief packages in the absence of comprehensive healthcare. The author also artistically inserted photos of Lumad peoples in the province of Surigao Del Sur who were displaced in 2018 by the ongoing armed conflict between the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA. 

Watch the author’s award acceptance video here: https://youtu.be/qZsqTFyMxGA

Winning Submission for Print Category

Rising from the Ruins, The Weavers of Marawi by Zea Correa-Capistrano

Correa-Capistrano recognizes the leadership and innovation of displaced Meranaw women following the 2018 Marawi Siege. Meranaw women revived their traditional weaving practices to address the economic and food insecurity they were experiencing. Traditional weaving has always been a part of Meranaw culture and tradition. These women transformed norms by leading the practice and selling their products. They were able to market their products and share their stories to consumers as far as the United States. Watch the author’s award acceptance video here: https://youtu.be/9hlosVlmMcU

Winning Submission for Online Category

Dolls for Peace Help Empower Women in Post-War Marawi by Antonio L. Colina IV

The story of a group of women who believe they are “warriors for peace”. They employ their skills to create iconic dolls that become symbolize women-led efforts to rebuild the war-torn city of Marawi. The women saw the selling of dolls as key to their empowerment and recovery. The dolls promote their culture and tradition of peace and remind consumers of Marawi City before it was destroyed by war and terrorism. Watch the author’s award acceptance video here: https://youtu.be/5lMEy8w0cPw

Winning Submission for Best Report on Peace in the Pandemic

Women Survivors from Marawi Siege Produce Facemasks for Livelihood During Covid-19 Outbreak by Divina Suson

This report highlights the leadership of local women in displacement camps in Marawi City in the COVID-19 response. As survivors of the 2018 Marawi Siege, local women harnessed their power to identify livelihood opportunities. Although their dressmaking businesses were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, local women quickly mobilized to produce face masks as an alternative source of income. Watch the author’s award acceptance video here: https://youtu.be/1iltp9w6kCs

Winning Submission for Best Report By A Woman/Youth Journalist 

Women Commanders Speak: “How do you suppose the battle raged on for days and weeks if there was no Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade to support the men fighting?” by Amalia Bandiola-Cabusao

This article brought to the fore the seldom-heard perspectives of former women combatants of the MILF’s armed wing. It draws attention to their efforts to support the peace negotiations and struggle for the right to self-determination. The article emphasizes the need for gender-responsive disengagement, disarmament, and rehabilitation. 

Watch the author’s award acceptance video here:

Part 1: https://youtu.be/wrJAAj6XMj8

Part 2: https://youtu.be/RouG0x_IrFw

GNWP’s Nikou Salamat recognized for peace activism, receives Kim Phúc Youth Peace Leadership Award

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is thrilled to announce that our very own Research Officer, Nikou Salamat, has received the Kim Phúc Youth Peace Leadership Award. Launched in 2014, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace’s (VOW) Peace Awards recognize outstanding contributions of Canadian women working towards a stronger, more peaceful world.

Nikou Salamat, who has been working with GNWP since April 2020, co-leads the COVID-19 and WPS Database and supports the implementation of women-led and youth-led peacebuilding initiatives in Central Africa, including most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Nigeria.

GNWP extends its warmest congratulations to Nikou! We are proud to have Nikou as part of our team.

Learn more about Nikou’s journey and what inspires her activism:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, who is Nikou?

N: I am a young professional and passionate advocate for Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). As an intersectional feminist, my advocacy is based on the notion that transformation of intersecting systems of oppression is essential to achieving full enjoyment of human rights for all.

I have recently completed my Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa, and look forward to pursuing graduate studies. My research interests include the role of grassroots women’s organizations in building peace in conflict-affected and post-conflict contexts, as well as advancing women’s rights in post-conflict reconstruction. Finally, I have a love for languages – I speak English, French, Farsi (Persian), and I am currently learning Spanish!

What brought you to peace activism?

N: As a first-generation immigrant to Canada with my parents, I became acutely aware of the inequities, ongoing injustices and egregious human rights violations occurring around the world. In parallel, my awareness of the privileges I enjoyed, including the protection of my human rights, was also heightened. I view peace activism as not only a professional endeavor, but a deeply personal one too. My experiences led to my passion for peace activism, as I believe that without gender justice and the fulfillment of human rights for all, there can be no sustainable peace.

What are you most proud of?

N: I am most proud of the initiatives that I contributed to at GNWP, including the policy advocacy, peacebuilding programming and research projects we have accomplished in collaboration with our partners over the past year. Specifically, our COVID-19 and WPS Database fills a key evidence gap on women’s leadership at the grassroots level during COVID-19. Our work to document women-led responses in peacebuilding and humanitarian action has proven essential to advocating for gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 recovery. I am also proud to have worked alongside the Young Women Leaders for Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mobilizing young women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding and women’s rights advocacy.

Who inspires you?

N: I am profoundly inspired by the activism of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders around the world. Countless women’s rights and feminist activists are currently facing backlash, persecution and imprisonment under inhumane conditions for their work. It is their tireless activism for social justice in the face of repression and threats which inspires my work. My parents are also one of the main sources of inspiration. Without their immense sacrifice and support, I would not have the opportunities that I do today. Lastly, I am incredibly inspired by my team members at GNWP and our collective commitment to the feminist principles that drive our work!

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

N: I would say get as involved as you can and seek to learn from those that are leading on the issues you care about! Building solidarity across feminist and social justice movements means connecting with young people and organizations around the world, listening to voices that are silenced and expanding your perspectives beyond your comfort zone. Also, read as much as you can – knowledge is power, and translating that knowledge into action is even more powerful.

Solidarity with the People of Myanmar

February 4, 2021

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) strongly condemns the military coup, which jeopardizes the peaceful democratic transition in Myanmar. On 1 February 2021, the Tatmadaw (military) arbitrarily detained civilian government officials and civil society leaders and declared a state of emergency on the grounds of disputed results of the national elections in November 2020. Internet connections and mobile phone service were restricted as fears of military-sponsored violence and unlawful detentions rose. The actions taken by the Tatmadaw infringe the civil liberties of the people of Myanmar.

The military rule in Myanmar has overseen a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya, along with countless other crimes against humanity targeted at marginalized ethnic minorities. The impunity for these crimes has encouraged further seizure of power and disruption of democratic processes.  GNWP is deeply concerned that these recent actions by the military may lead to further violence and the disruption of humanitarian aid delivery to internally displaced ethnic minorities living in dire conditions. We call on the Tatmadaw to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and arbitrary detention.

GNWP stands in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, especially grassroots women and youth peacebuilders. We echo their calls for:

  1. Respect and protection of the human rights of the people of Myanmar, including but not limited to their civil liberties and freedom of expression.
  2. Immediate release of political leaders and civil society activists and all those detained unlawfully by the military.
  3. Restoration of democracy, resumption of Parliament, and respect for the outcome of the November 2020 national elections.
  4. Irreversible reforms to national frameworks to strengthen language on human rights and democracy and prevent recurrence of such actions.
  5. Immediate restoration of the internet and all other forms of communication in Myanmar.
  6. Uninhibited delivery of humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced persons.
  7. Boycott of Myanmar military-owned companies which continue to make profits while citizens are driven into deeper poverty.
  8. Suspension of social media accounts of military and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) leaders which incite violence, sow divisions, and spread disinformation.

We urge the United Nations and the rest of the international community to take all actions necessary to protect civilians and prioritize their needs as they continue to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community protection mechanisms must be established for civil society activists and peacebuilders leading civil disobedience campaigns to protest the coup. It is critical that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemn the coup, suspend all engagement with the Tatmadaw, and establish a global arms embargo. To hold perpetrators accountable for crimes of genocide, the situation in Myanmar must be referred to the International Criminal Court. Without swift, concerted action from the international community, the human rights of the people of Myanmar, particularly ethnic minorities, will continue to be violated without consequence.

Meet the 2021 Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellows

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to welcome two new Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellows: Wevyn Muganda from Kenya and Manal El Tayar from Lebanon. Established in 2015 to honor Cora Weiss, a lifelong women’s rights, peace and social justice leader and activist, the Fellowship supports the training of young women peacebuilders on global policy advocacy. It helps ensure that more young people share Cora’s vision for sustainable peace and gender equality as strong and integral parts of the global culture. Through their experience of working with GNWP – both in New York and around the world – Fellows acquire experiences and skills, which enable them to advocate for women’s rights, inclusive and sustainable peace, and the participation of women at all levels of leadership and decision-making in their own countries. You can learn more about the Fellowship here.

As we welcome them to GNWP, we sat down with Wevyn and Manal to bring you their thoughts and experiences from their peacebuilding work in Kenya and Lebanon! Read the interview below:

Wevyn Muganda is a young human rights activist from Mombasa, Kenya. She initiated the Mutual Aid Kenya, a COVID-19 response initiative that supported communities in informal settlements of Mombasa and Nairobi with food relief packs, sanitation materials, education materials for children, medical supplies and organized the communities for political participation. Wevyn is also part of UNDP’s Global Youth Program ‘16×16’ that supports 16 activists from all over the world in advancing SDG 16. Read Wevyn’s full biography here.

Manal El Tayar is the co-founder of Unconventional International, a community led by young women for young women, and supporting the leadership and wellbeing of young women advancing peace and reconciliation. Manal is also TearFund’s Eurasia and North Africa Fragile States and Peacebuilding Advisor. Read Manal’s full biography here.

Date: January 25, 2021

Edited by: Natalia Valencia

Why are you excited to work with GNWP?

Wevyn: I am excited to join GNWP, as it is a women-led organization and a leader in advancing gender equality and women’s rights. I look forward to working with an organization that seeks to ensure women have equal access to opportunities in peace and security processes and decision-making. Most of all, I am looking forward to working with women for women — this is the sisterhood at work.

Manal: I am excited to join GNWP for three reasons. The first reason is the chance to work with incredible and like-minded women to bring about change. The second reason is the opportunity to translate global policies into concrete actions at the local level. Lastly, I look forward to learning more about working in partnership with different entities, including the government, in sustaining peace.

What do you see as the most pressing issues in the area of peace, security, and gender equality in the near future?

Wevyn: I identify three main issues. The first one is a transition to digitalization, which poses a problem for many women, particularly rural women who are illiterate or have little to no access to the internet, a smartphone, or a personal computer. The growing digital divide serves to widen gender inequalities. Secondly, poor mental health is a growing concern, and while there are many initiatives that tackle women’s well-being, it remains a problem, particularly for young people. The third issue is related to climate change and how our current trajectory — including worsening pollution, desertification and depletion of natural resources — could present a danger to the gains made towards building sustainable peace.

Manal: Growing up in Lebanon, I have seen armed conflict and deteriorating financial and economic conditions push many of my peers to emigrate. Those with enough economic resources or with networks to the gulf, Europe, or North America, relocated and pursued an education and/or jobs abroad. Others, with fewer economic resources and only networks locally, joined ranks and fought in Syria. As I observed these trends, I became attuned to how critical the intersection of peace and economic development is to address challenges faced by youth in fragile and conflict-affected states. From my lived experience, I also believe another pressing issue in this field is that of ensuring the well-being of women leaders working towards peace. For instance, identifying, addressing and dealing with the very trauma that may propel us into working for peace is necessary to ensure we are able to operate from a place of healing and abundance, and contributing to more holistic and effective communities.

What do you hope to gain from your fellowship experience? How will this experience further the work you have been doing in your country?

Wevyn: Given GNWP’s vast experience in the Localization of  the UN Security Council Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) resolutions, I hope to learn from your expertise in this area in order to implement it back in Kenya. I am also very interested in learning how young women can become more active in civic, political, and democratic processes. The example of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as the youngest woman elected to serve in the United States Congress, and her journey, has inspired me to see how I can support young women leading in decision-making and political processes and institutions.

Manal: Localization of Women, Peace and Security is very important for me. I view this work as the equivalent of putting in the train tracks to enable local women and youth to move implementation in a specific direction.

What insights, knowledge, and experiences do you bring to the Fellowship?

Wevyn: I have previous experience with community organizing, particularly in engaging youth from diverse backgrounds. I also have experience with the Localization of Youth, Peace and Security in Kenya, and I hope I can bring this experience into my Fellowship.

Manal: Growing up in war-torn Lebanon and moving 21 homes before the age of 18 has shaped the person I have become today and my desire to see peace locally, regionally, and globally. For me, it is also important to take stock of the progress and reflect on the question “How could we have done this better?” This is because, if peacebuilders and non-governmental organizations are not critical, even with the best intentions, their work can often cause more harm than good. I am also grateful for the people that have supported me and the experiences that have shaped me up to this point.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.