Category: GNWP Reports

Category: GNWP Reports

GNWP Reports from Yemen: Launching the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Four Provinces

26 January 2024 by Johnny Assaf and Sana’a Albanawi

Edited by Katrina Leclerc

“There is a dire need for mechanisms to involve women from South Yemen in the next stages of the country’s peace negotiations.”

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Peace Track Initiative (PTI) and To Be Foundation (TBF), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in Yemen. From 2-21 December 2023, with support from the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), GNWP, PTI and TBF led a marathon of Localization workshops for the first time across four provinces — Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa. 

Since 2014, Yemen has been grappling with the impact of what became known as the “largest humanitarian crisis in history,” caused by a brutal 10-year civil war. Peaceful protestors took to the streets in 2011 as part of the wave of the Arab Spring, demanding an end to the rampant political corruption, poverty, unemployment and economic woes that took away many aspects of normal life in Yemen. However, after a decade of conflict, with consistent climate shocks and large-scale displacements by rebel forces, 377,000 civilians have died, and Yemeni women have been left with severe consequences on their health, safety and security. About 75 per cent of the 4.5 million people displaced in Yemen are women and children, an estimated 12.6 million women are in need of life-saving reproductive health and protection services, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported a 50 per cent increase in physical assault cases and a 35 per cent in cases of sexual abuse.

The transition from a state of war to that of peace requires working across all levels of governance and a whole-of-society approach in the recovery and reconstruction process. Despite a significant number of Yemeni women who have contributed greatly to advancing matters of security and peace, women in Yemen continue to face exclusion from political participation, relief and recovery, and in overall peacebuilding efforts across the country.

Yemen adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS in 2019. However, Yemeni women’s civil society and community leaders lament the exclusionary nature of the drafting process. Women activists from across Yemen claim that their priorities and needs are not reflected. This reality reinforces the necessity of local ownership and contextualization of the NAP to advance the effective implementation of the WPS resolutions in addressing local needs and priorities across Yemen.

Faced with the threat of the complete collapse of the national socioeconomic structures and the unique challenges encountered by Yemeni women, the implementation of the WPS resolutions is crucial to ensuring peaceful and inclusive communities across the country. It is in this context that GNWP, PTI, TBF launched the Localization of WPS resolutions strategy in Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa, with the support of S/GWI. The initial workshops made way for rich discussions on gender and conflict dynamics in the provinces and welcomed honest questions as well as brainstorming of sustainable solutions to ensure women are recognized for their leadership within communities.

While considering the relevance of the Yemeni NAP on WPS in their provinces, participants emphasized the absence of provisions addressing the multitude of insecurities faced by Yemenis, including those who live with disabilities. The workshops served as an opportunity for local authorities, traditional and religious leaders, and civil society representatives to increase their knowledge of the WPS resolutions, highlighting the severe need for Local Action Plans on WPS. 

“The NAP on WPS in Yemen fails to address issues in our local communities, and these local communities do not benefit from the existence of the current NAP.”

Participants were also given the opportunity to craft strategic roadmaps and make concrete commitments to address identified challenges related to gender inequality and insecurity. 

For example, the lack of judicial transparency and inaccessibility of the educational system were considered among the most important challenges in the Abyan province. In Shawba, a significant need for better social cohesion and substantive inclusion of women’s voices in decision-making was identified as a priority. 

In Hadramout, customs, traditions and religious extremism were key hindrances to the achievement of gender equality. These are also causes limiting women from benefiting from quality education, partaking in decision-making processes and accessing legal or legislative protections. The Governor of Hadramout proclaimed his commitment to the Localization of WPS process by announcing that his administration will appoint a woman officer to the Executive Office and prioritize discussions on women’s empowerment and the WPS resolutions within forthcoming council meetings. 

GNWP is grateful to the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) for their support in expanding the Localization of WPS strategy to Abyan, Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa. 

Note: The anonymity of the participants has been maintained for their safety.

Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs

Sana’a Albanawi

Sana’a Albanawi

Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa

GNWP Reports from Papua New Guinea: Localizing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Highlands Region

26 January 2024 by Bianca Pabotoy

Edited by Shawna Crystal and Jasmin Nario-Galace

From 25-29 September 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Voice for Change (VFC), and with the support of the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (PNG). This milestone training convened 120 stakeholders from across the region’s seven provinces of Enga, Hela, Jiwaka, Simbu, and the Eastern, Southern and Western Highlands.

Throughout the region, women and girls face significant threats to their safety, security and human rights. Deeply rooted patriarchal norms and practices deny women full citizenship, hinder their participation in decision-making spaces, devalue their contributions to peace and security, and engender violence against them. One of the most notable and concerning manifestations of these biases is the prevalence of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV). In the Highlands, perpetrators of SARV act with impunity, subjecting women to extreme and brutal forms of violence, including abduction, public mob trials, detention as well as prolonged, and often fatal, sexual torture. Exacerbated by ongoing tribal conflicts, election-related violence and insufficient government response mechanisms, these dynamics contribute to a challenging environment for women’s rights and meaningful inclusion.

It is in this context that GNWP and VFC organized the country’s first Localization of WPS workshop to build on the momentum of women’s rights organizations from across civil society in advocating for more gender-sensitive conflict response. The four-day workshop mobilized diverse actors contributing to peace and security processes, including local women’s civil society organizations, women human rights defenders, religious and tribal leaders, peace committee members, police and security forces, as well as local government officials from Enga, Hela, Jiwaka, Simbu, and the Southern and Western Highlands. 

The security risks associated with active tribal disputes often prevent open spaces for dialogue. As such, this workshop provided a rare opportunity for key stakeholders to gather and an essential forum for local women to directly engage with officials and participate in decision-making conversations on peace and security in their local communities. GNWP and VFC leveraged this platform to raise awareness of the successes, challenges and opportunities for women’s participation in building and sustaining peace, including conflict mediation and peace negotiation. Participants learned about the WPS agenda and engaged in discussions on key local security issues — such as tribal conflict, SARV and gender-based violence — and how WPS can provide a framework for effective response.

Additionally, GNWP and VFC hosted an intensive, full-day session with local security representatives, including the provincial police commander, the provincial peace committee coordinator and the provincial coordinator of the village court systems. The session offered an in-depth introduction to the WPS agenda and the gendered impacts of conflict in the context of prevention and protection. This targeted engagement will facilitate enhanced security responses that incorporate gender considerations and ensure broader political support to the Localization process. 

Following the workshops, GNWP and VFC initiated the formation of the Highlands Women, Peace and Security Localization Steering Committee. Its mandate is to develop, advocate for and monitor the adoption and implementation of Local Action Plans or other local laws and policies integrating gender-responsiveness. Comprised of elected district representatives from each province, the steering committee will contribute to amplifying the WPS resolutions, fostering long-term, cross-provincial partnerships and generating support from local authorities throughout the region. 

Thus far, members of the Highlands WPS Localization Steering Committee have conducted 68 follow-up meetings and consultations across 7 council wards in Jiwaka and the Western Highlands and are already yielding results. Thanks to the leadership of the committee, a local area in the Western Highlands has developed community bylaws adopting the WPS resolutions. In Jiwaka, the mobilization and advocacy for women’s participation has led to the commitment from one community to nominate three women for the local government elections in 2024. As part of its ambitions to sustain these early successes, the steering committee hopes to increase engagement from tribal leaders and ward councilors in upcoming initiatives.  

Despite the barriers, the Localization of WPS in the Highlands has demonstrated the resilience and drive of women peacebuilders in PNG and the dedication of local communities to disrupting cycles of conflict and creating a more peaceful, safe and inclusive society. Lilly Be’Soer, the Executive Director and Founder of Voice for Change, emphasized: 

“We have to speak up and stand against the injustice, even if our voice is the only one around us. When it comes to the impact of conflict on civilians, the damage is huge, and we have to come together to address such challenges.”

GNWP’s engagement in Papua New Guinea is under its project, “From Global to Local: Localizing the WPS Agenda to Sustain Peace and Empower Women,” as part of the Support Her Empowerment – Women’s Inclusion in New Security (SHE WINS) initiative. GNWP thanks the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) for its support.

Bianca Pabotoy

Bianca Pabotoy

Senior Program Officer for Asia and the Pacific

GNWP Reports from Cameroon: Launching the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS)  in Bali Nyonga and Bamenda II 

20 November 2023 by Karen Bedoume and Katrina Leclerc

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Common Action for Gender Cameroon (COMAGEND), launched the Localization of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) strategy in Cameroon. On 20 to 23 September 2023, with support from the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), GNWP and COMAGEND led the establishment of the Localization of WPS efforts in the Bamenda II and Bali Nyonga communities in Northwestern Cameroon. 

Since 2016, the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon have been at the core of a violent conflict that has killed over 5,000 civilians and displaced over one million Cameroonians. This ongoing conflict, dubbed the Anglophone crisis, has also given rise to unresolved local crises and disputes. It has equally exacerbated the rates of violence against women and girls – those who bear the brunt under such conditions. As a result, its escalation has called for a more rigorous implementation of the WPS resolutions and a swift response to injustices experienced by women and girls. 

In the Bamenda II municipality, Localization of WPS workshop participants highlighted the pre-established cultural and religious barriers that have consistently barred women from meaningfully contributing to decision-making and peacebuilding efforts and holding any leadership positions in their communities. Women’s economic emancipation was another common topic of concern among the discussants. According to them, many women are forced to stay in abusive marriages and relationships to ensure their survival and well-being. If they were to leave these relationships, restricted access to supportive resources could hinder their economic sustainability and autonomy. One woman participant noted, “there is a need to increasingly appreciate that the conflict affects women differently than men. This analysis is important to end the misconception that conflicts impact women and men the same way.”

Participants in Bamenda II consciously applied an intersectional lens to identify local challenges and devise gender-responsive strategies. Further capacity-building for women’s civil society leaders and psycho-social counseling for survivors of gender-based violence were among the main recommendations. The first Deputy Mayor, Tsi Louis Angwafo, and the North West Regional Delegate of the Ministry of the Promotion of Women and the Family (MINPROFF), Wirba Asan, committed to raising issues related to gender inequality within their respective government institutions and champion the application of the WPS resolutions in the Northwestern region of Cameroon.  

In Bali Nyonga,  the Mayor, Ernest Wandum Bunga, and MINPROFF Divisional Delegate, George Fuambo, highlighted women’s crucial role in building and shaping society, as well as their indispensability in peacebuilding processes. 

The participants in Bali Nyonga discussed the significant challenges they face amidst the conflict, namely weak governance and justice systems, high cost of living, land disputes and xenophobia. Moreover, participants noted that conflict often exacerbates the effects for women, finding themselves at the heart of several forms of violence. During the workshop session on “Peace and Security,” one of the women participants noted that peace means “being able to sleep in peace without thinking that something terrible will happen to me, which I haven’t felt in a long time.”

Participants emphasized that previously attempted solutions were largely ineffective due to their lack of gender-sensitivity and considerations of the WPS resolutions. In turn, participants developed a roadmap urging municipal, religious and traditional leaders to consistently include women in peace processes and mobilize efforts towards shifting cultural norms that limit women’s agency. 

GNWP and COMAGEND are grateful to the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé for their support in expanding the Localization of WPS strategy to the Bali Nyonga and Bamenda II communities. 

Karen Bedoume

Karen Bedoume

Peacebuilding Program Intern for Africa, holds an LLB in Law and International Relations from Middlesex University. Her key areas of interest are International Law, Gender Youth, Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention and Sustainable development.

Katrina Leclerc

Katrina Leclerc

Program Director, Ph.D. candidate in conflict studies at Saint-Paul University. Her academic research focuses on the synergies between the WPS and YPS agendas, and local peacebuilding approaches.

GNWP Reports from Kigali, Rwanda: Exchange of ideas, sisterhood and peer mentoring: A reflection on the Interprovincial Conference on the Economic Empowerment of Young Women in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

27 September 2023 by Simone Mbodé Diouf

"The Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) is a real opportunity to implement and develop ownership of the 1325 and 2250 agendas to improve young women’s participation in decision-making and economic empowerment."
Diavy
Member of the YWL in North Kivu

From 7 to 8 August 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (SFVS) and Youth for Peace DRC, and with the support of United Women in Faith, invited members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) network to Kigali, Rwanda. The YWL came from North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to attend an interprovincial conference on the economic empowerment of young women in the eastern part of the country. The conference advanced ongoing collaborative efforts between GNWP and the YWL networks over several years to promote women’s economic empowerment, economic justice, and access to and control of resources. The primary goal of the meeting was to foster interprovincial solidarity between the two YWL chapters, encourage collaboration and peer mentoring, and exchange ideas and best practices. The conference was also an opportunity for the YWL members to meet in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen joint advocacy promoting young women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

On the first day, GNWP Program Director Katrina Leclerc spoke about the original purpose and structure of the YWL network, its evolution in recent years, the different chapters around the world and activities in other countries.

This reminder helped participants understand that the foundational belief of the YWL initiative is that when young women’s leadership and peacebuilding potential is harnessed, they are a positive force for transforming communities and society. It is under this premise that the YWL networks aim to recognize and value the leadership of young women and gender equality allies, as well as help them acquire the skills to advance the synergistic implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) resolutions.

“Young Women Leaders for Peace is a very good network because it makes us more open-minded through peer-to-peer mentoring and exchanging our experiences with others.”
Monique Cirimwami
Member of the YWL in South Kivu

The YWL also reflected on and shared their vision of economic empowerment. They defined it as the process by which individuals, particularly young women, develop the skills, resources and access to opportunities necessary to make independent fiscal decisions, improve their financial well-being and increase their participation in the economy. A more in-depth discussion on young women’s role in the North and South Kivu economies, and the DRC economy more generally, led participants to conclude that women’s impacts are wide-ranging and positive. Notably, women have meaningful economic contributions through their participation in business and entrepreneurship, agriculture and even industry — as market traders, domestic workers and through the unpaid care work they provide.

Participants identified concrete strategies and actions to improve the socioeconomic situation of young women and ensure their financial and economic independence in both. The YWL concluded that training young women in literacy is crucial to advancing their meaningful participation and integration in economic life. Young women have the potential to contribute to the acceleration of economic growth in their regions and countries. However, they need access to resources and greater financial autonomy to do so.

The members of the YWL networks committed to continue the discussions begun in Kigali and maintain their efforts as community leaders and peacebuilders.

“I'm committed to sharing everything we've learned at this conference with other young women leaders in North Kivu, outside Goma, and following up on the advocacy actions we've carried out.”
Emilie Katondolo
Head of the YWL in North Kivu
“I pledge to be a woman leader in my community, my province and my country. I commit to popularizing actions that promote young women and entrepreneurship on social networks and in my social circles. I will fulfill my obligation and responsibility to raise women's awareness of economic empowerment and encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship.”
Esther Atosha
YWL Network Manager in South Kivu
Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone is the Program Officer for Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

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.