The brief presents documented achievements and challenges in the effective implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas and gender-responsive humanitarian action within countries of ASEAN. It also outlines recommendations for a stronger, harmonized implementation of the policies, and encourages the meaningful participation of women and young women in peace, security and humanitarian response in Southeast Asia.
During the launch, Ms. Nina Kondracki, Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at Canada’s Mission to ASEAN, underscored: “This strong collaboration bodes very well for the implementation of the Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security, advancing the policy dialogue on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, and exploring the important linkages between both in the ASEAN region, especially in the context of humanitarian action.”
Representatives of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and UN Women Indonesia presented the ASEAN’s RPA WPS, adopted in December 2022. Additionally, members of GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) networks in Myanmar and the Philippines presented existing youth-led peacebuilding efforts in the region.
“The implementation of both Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security in Southeast Asia is crucial, as ongoing conflict and crises remain. ASEAN Member States have an opportunity, with the Regional Plan of Action on WPS and growing attention for the concerns of young people, to expand their approach, break down bureaucratic silos and ensure substantive collaboration with civil society.”
– Ms. Cynth Nietes, Young Women+ Leaders for Peace – Philippines
“Looking ahead, the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation looks forward to organizing regular WPS training, and utilizing our pool of experts, such as the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry. Future efforts include a mapping of actors, specifically women peacebuilders at the local level, and a mapping of the existing peace infrastructure at the national and local levels from a gender perspective.”
– Ms. Kartika Wijayanti, Project Management Officer, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
GNWP looks forward to moving recommendations of this policy brief from words to action as it continues to meaningfully engage with ASEAN on the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security agendas, and gender-sensitive humanitarian action.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
When reflecting on time spent with the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) in Lebanon, there is one word that prevails in its lack and its growth: hope. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) has been working with youth peacebuilders in Lebanon since 2021. When we first began meeting with youth leaders, GNWP asked what gives them hope. At first, many of them struggled to find an answer. The recent years in Lebanon have not been easy. Since 2019, the country has been coping with a crippling economic crisis. The Lebanese lira has lost over 90 percent of its value; many essential goods and services remain out of reach for the general population; and, the World Bank has referred to the situation as one of the worst economic collapses in global history. Then, in August 2020, Lebanon was rocked by the explosion at the Port of Beirut—a catastrophe that killed more than 200 people. According to a 2022 UNICEF survey, the situation in Lebanon has led to one in four youth suffering from mental health challenges, three in ten youth expecting life to get worse and around 40 percent seeing life abroad as their only option for a better future. Yet, despite the deteriorating circumstances, in collaboration with GNWP, the Permanent Peace Movement (PPM), and support from Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP), members of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace chapter in Lebanon are endeavoring to build sustainable peace at the local, national and regional levels.
The YWL network in Lebanon was first launched by GNWP and PPM, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) in 2021. In 2022, GNWP and PPM, and with support of PSOP, hosted several workshops with the YWL members to enhance their capacities as youth peacebuilders, increase their knowledge on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policies, and strategize on pathways for advocacy on the implementation of the YPS resolutions locally. In December 2022, the YWL sessions convened diverse youth from across the country and the region—including Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian refugees and members of the LGBTQIA+ community—and provided a space for learning, collaborating and sharing experiences.
During the workshop, one young woman spoke about her efforts working with religious leaders and pharmacists in Baalbek to destigmatize menstruation and sexual health. After meeting with local religious leaders to gain their support, she met with local pharmacists to change the practice of putting period products in black plastic bags. She emphasized that menstruation is a natural part of life and should not be something that is ostracizing to women or has to be hidden. As a result of her advocacy, pharmacies in Baalbek have begun putting period products in the same bags as other items—a step towards challenging social stigmas and social norms.
Following their activism and involvement with the YWL, two members of the chapter were invited by the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sports to represent the country at an official consultation for the Arab League’s forthcoming Regional Strategy on Youth, Peace and Security. Christelle Aziz, one of the YWL members, shared that as drafting of the strategy continues, between now and the launch “we want to advocate and ensure that there is an open channel between the YWL in Lebanon and the Arab League and their partners to listen to our feedback in all the steps.”
“Our involvement in this process has resulted in the YWL working together to pursue joint efforts to ensure continuous youth involvement in the regional strategy and concrete ways to promote YPS advocacy at the regional and local levels.”–Zulfiqar Naser Al Deen, YWL member in Lebanon and GNWP Associate for Lebanon Peacebuilding Programs
Among the joint efforts considered, the YWL identified the creation of a youth council at the Arab League to represent the genuine interests of local peacebuilders, forming strategic partnerships with local government actors and utilizing media for advocacy. One participant remarked: “Learning about these global and regional opportunities and the YWL involvement at the Arab League has made me want to be involved too and find a way to work on this in Lebanon.” The YWL, with support and guidance from GNWP and its local partner PPM, is now leading a clear advocacy and social media strategy for the sustained inclusion and leadership of youth in formulating the regional strategy and implementing the YPS resolutions across Lebanon.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
 The Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program is a network initiated by GNWP that focuses on building the capacities and leadership skills of young women and gender equality allies in conflict-affected communities. More details can be found here: https://gnwp.org/what-we-do/young-women-leaders-for-peace-program/
* Alonna Despain is a Program Officer for Middle East and North Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).
** Shawna Crystal is the Resource Mobilization and Communications Specialist at GNWP.
The winds of change are blowing in Colombia. Despite the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and slow progress in the implementation of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), there is a renewed glimmer of hope across the country. As of 7 August 2022, the newly elected government announced its commitment to adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy and a National Action Plan (NAP) on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. What remains to be seen is whether actions will match the rhetoric, as Colombia still faces several challenges threatening peacebuilding processes. However, it cannot be denied that this progress is a direct result of feminists’ yearning and years of tireless advocacy for more inclusive and intersectional policies. One of the key actors leading these efforts is Alianza 1325 (Alliance 1325), a group of feminist civil society organizations. Through their advocacy, they work to ensure that all voices — including those of young women — are meaningfully involved in the regional dialogues to realize an inclusive and participatory design of the NAP on WPS. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to be a long-time supporter of our feminist allies in Colombia to ensure that women and youth are at the front and center of policy advocacy and NAP development.
Despite the progress, drug production and trafficking continue to be the primary fuels of the conflict, disproportionately affecting indigenous and rural communities. Weak protection mechanisms and lack of governmental presence in these areas are among the key obstacles to achieving “total peace,” as promised by President Gustavo Petro. In this sense, one of the key recommendations presented by the Truth Commission in June 2022 is the need to adopt a human security approach. The human security approach is a United Nations framework that focuses on preventing risks and pursuing comprehensive solutions. It is centered on people and the contexts in which they live based on respect for the protection of life and the principle of human dignity. Human security integrates the agendas of peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights. GNWP’s work in implementing the WPS and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda is founded on the human security framework. GNWP’s advocacy highlights the agency and leadership of local women and youth peacebuilders.
“We need a change, we want dialogue, we want peace,” stressed Lucy, a participant in the Young Women+ Leaders For Peace (YW+L) workshop held in Popayán, Cauca, on 25-26 August 2022. GNWP facilitated the training on women’s rights, leadership and peacebuilding in partnership with Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM), and with the support of Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). 20 participants, including 18 young women and two gender equality allies from the departments of Cauca and Tolima, shared their priorities and voiced concerns about the increasing threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the worrying rates of child recruitment by non-State armed groups.
The YW+L workshop enhanced young women and gender equality allies’ leadership and peacebuilding skills. Participants collectively designed and led initiatives to address the root causes of violence in their communities. These young leaders use various artistic and creative methods to convey a strong and inclusive message of peace — a powerful strategy that GNWP promotes through its Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) Read, Lead and Build. For example, in Cauca, young women organized social media campaigns with audio-visual materials to raise awareness about gender-based violence around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November. Meanwhile, in Tolima, young women used community theater to promote gender equality and peace. On 12 November, they performed at the Festival Internacional Mujeres En La Escena (FIME) in Ibagué, Tolima, exposing the different types of abuses suffered by young women and demanding justice for all those whose voices continue to be silenced. As Lorena, one of the performers, stated, “if women are not the ones raising their voices, they are forgotten.”
Colombia still has many challenges, but we are grateful that women and young people are paving the way to peace.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
* Cecilia Lazara is the Regional Focal Point for Latin America at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.
 Alliance 1325: Women, Peace and Security is composed of feminist civil society organizations working rigorously in a participatory advocacy process to formulate the WPS NAP.
 Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) is the former name of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program.
GNWP Reporta desde Cauca y Tolima, Colombia
En Colombia soplan vientos de cambio. A pesar del impacto causado por la pandemia del COVID-19, sumado al lento progreso en la implementación del acuerdo de paz entre el gobierno colombiano y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), en todo el país se percibe un rayo renovado de esperanza. El 7 de agosto de 2022, el nuevo gobierno electo anunció su compromiso para adoptar una Política Exterior Feminista y un Plan Nacional de Acción (PNA) sobre la agenda Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (MPS). Lo que queda por ver es si estas acciones estarán a la altura de la retórica, ya que Colombia continúa enfrentándose a varios retos que amenazan sus procesos de construcción de paz. Sin embargo, no se puede negar que este progreso es un resultado directo del anhelo feminista y años de incidencia buscando políticas inclusivas e interseccionales. Uno de los actores clave que lidera estos esfuerzos es la Alianza 1325, un grupo de organizaciones feministas de la sociedad civil. A través de su incidencia, trabajan para garantizar que todas las voces – incluidas las de las mujeres jóvenes – participen de manera significativa en los diálogos regionales con el objetivo que el diseño participativo del PNA sobre MPS. La Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés) se enorgullece de apoyar desde hace mucho tiempo a nuestras aliadas feministas en Colombia para asegurar que las mujeres y la juventud estén al frente en la incidencia de políticas y el desarrollo del PNA.
Dichos anuncios representan un claro guiño al anhelo feminista, tras años de luchas incansables por políticas más inclusivas e interseccionales. Lo que queda por ver es si estas acciones estarán a la altura de la retórica, ya que Colombia continúa enfrentándose a varios retos que amenazan sus procesos de construcción de paz.
La producción y el tráfico de drogas siguen siendo los principales combustibles del conflicto, afectando de manera desproporcionada a las comunidades indígenas y rurales. Mecanismos de protección débiles e ineficientes, así como la falta de presencia del Estado en dichas zonas, son señalados como algunos de los principales obstáculos para alcanzar la “paz total”, tal y como prometió el presidente Gustavo Petro. En ese sentido, una de las principales recomendaciones presentadas por la Comisión de la Verdad en junio de 2022 es la necesidad de adoptar un enfoque de seguridad humana. El enfoque de seguridad humana es un marco de las Naciones Unidas orientado a la prevención de riesgos y a la búsqueda de soluciones integrales. Se centra en las personas y en los contextos en los que viven sobre la base del respeto de protección a la vida y el principio de dignidad humana. La seguridad humana integra las agendas de paz y seguridad, desarrollo sostenible y derechos humanos. El trabajo de GNWP en la implementación de la agenda de MPS y Juventud, Paz y Seguridad (JPS) se basa sobre este marco de seguridad humana. Precisamente, siguiendo estos principios, GNWP busca visiblizar la capacidad de acción y el liderazgo de las mujeres así como las y los jóvenes constructores de paz locales.
“Necesitamos un cambio, queremos el diálogo, queremos la paz”, instó Lucy, una participante del taller de Mujeres Jóvenes+ Líderes por la Paz (MJL+) celebrado en Popayán, Cauca entre el 25 y 26 de agosto de 2022. GNWP facilitó la capacitación sobre derechos de las mujeres, liderazgo y construcción de paz en alianza con la Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) y con el apoyo del Programa de Operaciones de Estabilización y Paz de Asuntos Globales de Canadá (PSOP). 20 participantes, incluidas 18 mujeres jóvenes y dos aliados por la igualdad de género de los departamentos de Cauca y Tolima, compartieron sus prioridades y entre otro temas expresaron su preocupación por las crecientes amenazas y ataques contra las y los defensores de derechos humanos así como por las cifras alarmentes sobre el reclutamiento de niñas y niños por parte de grupos armados no estatales.
El taller MJL+ ayudó a mejorar las habilidades de liderazgo y construcción de paz de las mujeres jóvenes y aliados por la igualdad de género. Las y los participantes diseñaron y dirigieron colectivamente iniciativas para abordar las causas fundamentales de la violencia en sus comunidades. Utilizaron métodos artísticos y creativos para transmitir un mensaje de paz fuerte e inclusivo. Cabe destacar, que esta estrategia es activamente promovida a través del manual ‘Leer, liderar y Construir’ diseñado por GNWP en el marco del programa Niñas Embajadoras para la Paz (GA4P). Por ejemplo, en el Cauca, las jóvenes organizaron campañas en las redes sociales con materiales audiovisuales para sensibilizar sobre la violencia basada en género en torno al Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer, el 25 de noviembre. Mientras tanto, en Tolima, las jóvenes utilizaron el teatro comunitario para promover la igualdad de género y la paz. El 12 de noviembre, se presentaron en el Festival Internacional Mujeres En La Escena (FIME) de Ibagué, Tolima, exponiendo los diferentes tipos de abusos que sufren las jóvenes y exigiendo justicia para todas aquellas cuyas voces siguen siendo silenciadas. Siguiendo las palabras de Lorena, una de las intérpretes, “si las mujeres no son las que alzan la voz, quedán en el olvido”.
En Colombia siguen habiendo muchos retos, pero estamos agradecidas de que sean las mujeres y los grupos de jóvenes quienes estén allanando el camino hacia la paz.
GNWP agradece al Programa de Operaciones de Estabilización y Paz de Asuntos Globales de Canadá por su apoyo continuo.
 La Alianza 1325: Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad está conformada por organizaciones feministas de la sociedad civil que trabajan rigurosamente en un proceso participativo para la formulación del PNA.
 Niñas Embajadoras para la Paz (GA4P) es el antiguo nombre del programa Mujeres Jóvenes Líderes para la Paz (MJL) de la Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP).
A hand to hold: Survivors of rape in the war in Ukraine need accompaniment and support
Tetiana Semikop is a retired police colonel from Odesa city. In her 25 years on the police force, she investigated robbery, murder, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking cases. Her investigations led to many convictions that sent perpetrators to jail. When she retired in 2011, she founded the Public Movement for Faith, Hope, and Love, a non-governmental organization (NGO) providing support services to women and girls victims of human trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence.
Then, on 24 February 2022, the Russian invasion began. Since the invasion, 120,000 people forcibly displaced from neighboring oblasts (regions) flocked to the Odeska region. The number of cases brought to Tetiana’s organization, particularly rape and other conflict-related sexual violence, is overwhelming. There is also a new and significant task to document the cases and preserve the data so victims can access justice after the war.
While working in their NGO, Tetiana met Olga, a company manager from Kherson city. Olga was captured by Russian soldiers while trying to escape from the occupied Kherson region. In captivity, Olga served as the Russian soldiers’ maid during the day. She cooked for them, washed their clothes, and cleaned their quarters. In the evening, she was their sex slave. She was raped repeatedly by different soldiers.
The workshop aimedto fill the gap in easily accessible, flexible and sustained support to women survivors of rape, other conflict-related sexual violence and other war crimes against women in Ukraine. The training included sessions on international and national laws, norms, standards and mechanisms for documenting war crimes. It is a trauma-informed approach to establishing multi-disciplinary, community-based victim and survivor-centered support in war crimes documentation.
The training also featured a session on sustained advocacy for the ethical and systematic gathering of survivor testimonies and on access to justice. The Ukrainian women peacebuilders and other participants learned about the Murad Code, a voluntary Global Code of Conduct for Gathering and Using Information about Systematic and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. They also discussed the groundbreaking Sepur Zarco Case, wherein the Guatemalan court convicted two former military members of sexual violence, sexual slavery and domestic slavery committed against Maya Q’eqchi’ women in and near a military rest outpost in Sepur Zarco during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala.
Following the training, GNWP and its partners like Tetiana will produce a mapping of support services that survivors in local communities need, such as medical and psychosocial counseling services and legal assistance. The mapping will also identify if and where such services exist and how they may be accessed. GNWP and its local civil society partners will also provide humanitarian relief to families of victims and survivors.
Representatives of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Social Policy, responsible for coordinating the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, participated in the training. This ensures the coordination of efforts in the documentation of war crimes and establishment of a support system for women survivors who wish to testify about the crimes committed against them. The training also guarantees alignment with the Ukrainian Government’s efforts to implement the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.
UN Women, experts on international criminal law and sexual and gender-based violence as well as feminist researchers on sexual violence crimes during the Bosnian war shared their expertise during the training.
GNWP and its Ukrainian civil society partners will develop and roll out a sustained advocacy strategy for the ethical and systematic gathering of survivor testimonies and access to justice after the training.
Addressing disinformation and fake news in Ukraine, providing factual and timely information to victims and survivors
Cognizant of the widespread problem of disinformation and digital insecurity during the ongoing war in Ukraine, GNWP and DDC also organized a training on Crisis Communications and Digital Security alongside the Accompaniment and Support to Victims and Survivors training.
It equipped the participants with skills to detect and prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news and promote digital security. They also learned skills on how to produce and disseminate timely and factual information on the war in Ukraine and where to access humanitarian support and assistance during the war. At the end of the workshop, the participants developed viable and sustainable local Crisis Communication Strategies that combine online and offline media and platforms.
Tetiana attended the trainings in Krakow to gain more knowledge and improve her organization’s support for women survivors of rape and other war crimes. She thought a lot about Olga while in Krakow. She wanted to be on Olga’s side and to give her a hand to hold.
The Austrian Development Agency and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation support GNWP’s work on the Accompaniment and Support to Victims and Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and other War Crimes and Crisis Communications and Digital Security.
* Mavic Cabrera-Balleza is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.
“We are the future of South Sudan! We want to go home, and we appeal to President Salva Kiir to ensure safety and security in our village,” – young South Sudanese refugee women in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, Uganda
As part of its Feminist and Localized Humanitarian Action Program, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, in partnership with Eve Organization for Women Development, facilitated a workshop on peacebuilding, women’s rights, and gender-responsive humanitarian action with young South Sudanese women refugees on 27 May 2022. The young women’s responses to the training were very positive and inspiring. They expressed their longing to go back home and live peaceful and productive lives. However, they also know that it may take a long while before that becomes a reality because of the sluggish implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement and the South Sudanese government’s lack of political will. Despite the limited resources and facilities at the refugee settlement, the young women want to learn how to read and write better and develop life skills. While they don’t mind walking to school, which takes several kilometers, they wish there were more classrooms and teachers. There is only one teacher for more than 100 students. There are very few classrooms where several grade levels must share one room. “Sometimes we just stand outside because the classroom is so full!” said one of the young women.
Thirty young women aged 17 to 30 participated in the workshop. Out of the 30, at least 20 already had children or were pregnant. They identified early pregnancy as one factor that prevents them from going to school and pursuing other opportunities. They want to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and they want to decide over their own bodies.
GNWP and Eve Organization plan to advocate with the Ugandan Government authorities to build more classrooms and hire more teachers. The two organizations also plan to organize sex education and identify other groups or institutions that can provide reproductive health care services.
The young women also discussed their livelihood projects. They want to earn incomes to support themselves and their families. GNWP provided them with seed funds for their projects. The students in the group also received funds to buy school supplies.
Hon. Betty Ogwaro, a Member of the National Parliament of South Sudan joined GNWP and Eve Organization on the trip to Bidi Bidi. She exchanged ideas with the South Sudanese women refugees, particularly on how to achieve peace in South Sudan. Hon. Ogwaro serves on the Boards of GNWP and Eve Organization.
GNWP and Eve Organization will continue to collaborate to enhance the South Sudanese young women’s leadership potential and develop their skills. They will also support the young women to participate in the management of the refugee settlement and implement the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace, and Security in South Sudan and Uganda.
GNWP thanks the Austrian Development Agency and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation for their support.
* Mavic Cabrera-Balleza is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.