Category: GNWP Reports

Category: GNWP Reports

GNWP Reports from Istanbul, Türkiye: Localizing and Strengthening the WPS-HA Compact in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

1 July 2024 by Sophia Farion and Daria Larionov

"WPS was adopted as a promise to women and conflict-affected communities to be put in the center. No conflict lasts five to ten years only. After peace agreements are signed, the violations are more common. The guns are silenced, but the wounds — we live with them for our entire lives; they pass through generation after generation."

The year 2025 marks significant anniversaries for gender equality: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action turns 30 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) turns 25. These milestones provide a critical opportunity to accelerate efforts for gender equality and peacebuilding amid setbacks in both areas.[1] The Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact, launched in 2021 as part of the Generation Equality initiative convened by UN Women, offers a powerful multistakeholder tool to increase accountability and financing for existing commitments to a gender-equitable and peaceful world.

On 5-6 June 2024, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Programme for Gender Issues’ WIN Project led a Training of Trainers (ToT) in Istanbul, Türkiye, to localize and strengthen the WPS-HA Compact in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (CAEESC). Ten local peacebuilders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan gathered to learn how to implement the Compact’s goal of placing women at the center of peace, security and humanitarian action. They explored its multistakeholder approach for coordinating and monitoring WPS-HA commitments and its guiding principles of transformation. The peacebuilders highlighted the importance of increasing CAEESC civil society engagement in the Compact’s multistakeholder framework.

Peacebuilders from Central Asia emphasized the need to encourage civil society organizations (CSOs) from their region to join the WPS-HA Compact, as there are currently no Central Asian CSO signatories. More signatories would ensure their unique regional challenges are considered, such as empowering ethnic monitory communities and vulnerable groups at border regions in peace and security decisions. “We sign [the Compact] because we have to know the agenda to build our own capacity,” they explained. There was a particular appreciation of the Compact’s intergenerational approach, given the strong mobilization of Central Asian young women in sustainable peace efforts.

Eastern European peacebuilders embraced the Compact for its potential to increase the visibility of local women’s peacebuilding organizations, enabling them to attract funding and enhance operational effectiveness. They noted that engaging the private sector through the Compact could spark economic empowerment and job creation for women in Ukraine and Moldova affected by Russia’s full-scale invasion.

In the South Caucasus, women-led CSOs have dedicated decades to implementing the WPS agenda, particularly working with vulnerable populations. With strong WPS networks across the public, private, academic and civil society sectors, joining the Compact would strengthen government accountability for WPS commitments in existing or drafted National Action Plans. “It’s time to turn this commitment into action,” a Georgian participant stated.

Over the two days, participants translated their motivation for inclusive WPS-HA in their region into action plans, addressing peacebuilding issues and increasing government and civil society signatories to the Compact. Discussions covered key issues, such as shrinking civic space for women human rights defenders, financing women’s education and entrepreneurship, creating comprehensive support systems for women’s economic security and overcoming barriers to women’s participation in peace processes. 

A shared concern across the three regions was the need for increased flexible and sustainable funding for local women peacebuilding organizations to effectively address the gendered peace, development and humanitarian needs in their communities.

Recommendations to address these issues included stronger legal frameworks, comprehensive assistance networks for women peacebuilders and improved access to international platforms and funding.

ToT participants shared these challenges and recommendations with representatives of multilateral international and regional organizations. During a consultative event on the second day, Dr. Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues, spoke about the importance of investing in women’s leadership and creating networks for decision-making. Mr. Klaus Beck, UNFPA Deputy Regional Director, highlighted UNFPA’s role in promoting gender equality and supporting young women as catalysts of change. Mr. Francesco Marrella from ODHIR discussed advancing women’s leadership through commitments and regular consultations with women’s rights defenders, emphasizing men’s responsibility to implement WPS agenda commitments.

The ToT on Localizing and Strengthening the WPS-HA Compact in CAEESC emphasized the Compact’s significance as a transformative framework for addressing current challenges and promoting gender equality. The ToT has already led to more civil society signatories to the Compact, with four organizations from the region applying since. Participants committed to conducting at least eight training sessions with relevant target groups within their communities to disseminate the knowledge and skills acquired. These training sessions are expected to strengthen local capacities and contribute to the broader goals of the WPS-HA Compact. Continued advocacy by local peacebuilders to increase civil society and government signatories will expand the Compact’s reach and effectiveness, ensuring greater accountability to WPS and gender-responsive humanitarian action across the region.

GNWP is grateful to the OSCE for their ongoing support through the “WIN-Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” project. Read more about GNWP and the OSCE’s partnership here.

[1] UN Secretary-General. (2023). Report of the Secretary-General on Women and peace and security. UN Security Council. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/4024756?ln=en&v=pdf#files

Picture of Sophia Farion

Sophia Farion

Program Coordinator for Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

Picture of Daria Larionov

Daria Larionov

Associate for Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Peacebuilding Programs

GNWP Reports from Lebanon: Co-leadership on Youth, Peace and Security despite complex regional dynamics

26 June 2024 by Johnny Assaf

Edited by Katrina Leclerc

Twenty-two members of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) network in Lebanon gathered for a capacity-strengthening and strategic planning workshop to launch their 2024-2025 planning. Their priorities: transformative change in the community, particularly focusing on empowering young women leaders, sharing insights and feedback on their past work, and strategizing their forthcoming peacebuilding and social cohesion initiatives.

The YWL-Lebanon is a diverse network launched in 2021 by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Permanent Peace Movement (PPM), with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). The YWL network welcomes young women, young men and gender-diverse youth from Lebanon, including refugees from Palestine and Syria. In recognition for their diversity, the YWL have been intentionally vocal since the October 2023 violence outbreak in Gaza, particularly calling for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid to be distributed to Palestinians in the region.

“As a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, seeing my people in Gaza being exterminated in cold blood is never an easy matter. The fires of Gaza have reached me and severely impacted me psychologically. I have worked with my colleagues in the YWL network to the best of our ability to amplify the voices of the victims in Gaza and to reveal the truth behind what is happening there, despite the Western media blackout. This is what we have always strived for and continue to strive for in this network: freedom and peace for all.”

Another priority for the YWL-Lebanon is the devastating impact of climate change on peace and security. In February 2023, members met with the Lebanese Minister of Environment, Dr. Nasser Yassin. Their promising encounter explored collaborative opportunities with the Ministry and environmental organizations to devise strategies that raise awareness on the intersecting issues of gender and climate. The Minister also highlighted efforts to develop and update policies addressing the interconnected challenges of peace, security and climate change.

One of the YWL-Lebanon’s first public initiatives was held on 1 March 2024. A High-Level Youth Forum on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Humanitarian Action was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Twenty-eight key stakeholders from various sectors, including UN agency representatives, government officials, and local and international civil society organizations, met to discuss pressing challenges and opportunities identified by the YWL. The Forum provided the network with a platform to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration to further their advocacy around the YPS resolutions.

“The YWL network is crucial for empowering us as young women through leadership development, capacity-building and ensuring true participation. It offers networking opportunities and advocacy for women’s rights, and provides us with role models and a supportive community. This fosters the next generation of women leaders and promotes gender equality and social change.”

The Forum served as an opportunity for the YWL to solicit closer collaboration and co-leadership of the implementation of YPS commitments across Lebanon. For example, as a UN mandate holder, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office committed to coordinating with the YWL for the development and strengthening of Lebanon’s youth policies and hopefully forthcoming National Action Plan on YPS. The Ministry of Youth and Sports reiterated its appreciation for the YWL network’s leadership in advocating for YPS in the country, including by serving as advisors to the Ministry in their contributions to the Arab League’s Regional Strategy on YPS.

GNWP is grateful to Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP) for its ongoing support of gender- and age-sensitive peacebuilding programs in Lebanon.

Picture of Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs

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.

Picture of Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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. 

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.