Category: Indonesia

Category: Indonesia

A Young Women-Led Approach to Preventing Violent Extremism and Building Peace

December 1, 2020 by Mallika Iyer and Heela Yoon

“I started advocating for peace and gender equality at the local mosque near my house, where I teach young women how to read the Quran. But I now I want to deepen my knowledge and work with other peacebuilders across my country and the world. The Young Women Leaders for Peace Program gives me the opportunity to do exactly that,” shared Olive Aliysa, a young woman peacebuilder from Aceh, during an online training organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia, with the support of Channel Foundation.

GNWP and AMAN Indonesia held a series of online workshops with members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program between September 2nd and 4th, 2020. The workshops enhanced the young women’s capacities on the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda, the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) agenda, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA). Launched in November 2017, the YWL Program in Indonesia is now a network of 80 young women leaders who contribute to a strong youth movement for long-lasting peace, equality, and sustainable development. Convening participants from Aceh, Jakarta, Maluku, Lampung, Lamongan, and Poso, the online training in September expanded the membership of the network and enhanced the capacities of these young women peacebuilders to advocate for the implementation the WPS and YPS resolutions in their communities.

Indonesia is one of only three countries within Southeast Asia to adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325.  However, implementation of the NAP has been inhibited by ineffective coordination, budgetary limitations, and unaddressed patriarchal gender norms. During the online workshops, the young women leaders had an opportunity to discuss the NAP implementation with a representative of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (Komnas Perempuan). The YWL members identified key issues exacerbating gender inequalities, insecurity, and preventing NAP implementation in their communities. These included: early, forced, and child marriage, religious intolerance, and gender based and sexual violence.

Indonesia has the eighth highest number of child brides in the world. Early, forced and child marriage is linked to widely-accepted harmful social norms. The young women leaders stressed that eliminating early, forced, and child marriage in their communities effectively requires a shift in gender norms as well as cultural beliefs that condemn this practice. They decided to advocate for the inclusion of young women’s perspectives and priorities in its second NAP on UNSCR 1325, which is currently being drafted by the Indonesian government.

The training also equipped the young women with the necessary knowledge and skills to lead efforts to prevent violent extremism (PVE) and counter terrorism (CT) in their communities. Violent extremism, ethno-religious conflict, and intolerance have undermined security and democratic progress in Indonesia. Young women in rural areas are often the first targets of extremist groups. Some of the participants in GNWP’s trainings held in 2019 stressed that many young women are married off to violent extremists or recruited to carry out attacks such as suicide bombings. They also play a role in recruiting others to join extremist groups. During the training, young women leaders shared personal stories about the prevalence of radicalization and recruitment in their communities; these communities were identified as hotbeds for radicalization during focus group discussions conducted by GNWP in 2017. “I’ve seen classmates refuse to salute the Indonesian flag and share videos promoting violent narratives online,” a young woman leader shared.

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased online radicalization and recruitment by violent extremist groups in Indonesia. Violent extremist groups have taken advantage of public dissatisfaction with the government’s response and recovery efforts, high unemployment rates in the informal sector of the economy, and increased reliance on social media. In addition, mobility restrictions continue to prevent civil society from reaching grassroots communities where radicalization is rampant. Conflict-sensitive and gender-responsive PVE and CT efforts led by young women are critical to curb these increased rates of recruitment, build sustainable peace, and achieve gender equality in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s National Action Plan on PVE, which is aligned with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, prioritizes the empowerment and participation of women and youth as a key strategy to counter terrorism. However, as the young women leaders highlighted to the Section Head for Government Agency Cooperation in the Directorate of Regional and Multilateral Cooperation at the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT) during the training, most grassroots young women in communities affected by violent extremism are unaware of their right to meaningfully participate in peacebuilding and political decision-making. In response, the young women leaders designed online peacebuilding dialogues and social media campaigns to raise awareness of the WPS and YPS resolutions amongst young women and men in their communities. By encouraging their peers to meaningfully participate in political decision-making and efforts to prevent violent extremism, the young women leaders hope to build broad ownership and support for gender equality and sustainable peace in their communities.

The young women leaders also stressed that it is necessary to address the root causes of violent extremism. To tackle frustration with the government’s insufficient and inequitable pandemic response, they developed COVID-19 emergency relief projects to meet the urgent, intersecting, and overlooked needs of internally displaced families in Palu[1] and Siduarjo[2], which face the intersecting impacts of the pandemic and natural disasters. Through these initiatives, the young women leaders will address the impacts of COVID-19 on food security as well as access to sexual health and reproductive services for displaced families, thereby bridging gaps in government relief programs. 

“There is nothing that we, as Young Women Leaders for Peace, cannot do. We are agents of change. It is our responsibility to build peace, promote women’s rights, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Vica Kambea, a young woman leader from Poso. Vica’s thoughts were echoed by the other members of the newly expanded YWL Indonesia. By distinguishing themselves as significant actors in their local communities, the Young Women Leaders for Peace in Indonesia are creating a space for young women to meaningfully participate in peacebuilding and efforts to prevent violent extremism. 


[1] It is estimated that 164,626 people were displaced into informal settlements following an earthquake in September 2018 in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Source: REACH, “Central Sulawesi Earthquake, Tsunami, and Liquefaction: Population Needs”, February 2019. Retrieved from:

[2] It is estimated that there are 330 displaced Shia families in Siduarjo, who were forced to flee Madura Island in 2012 after an attack from the Sunni majority. Source: Yovinus Guntur W, Benar News, “Indonesia: Shia Uprooted by Violence on Madura Island Long to Go Home”. May 5th 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/shia-home-05202020164016.html

Youth Leaders Demand Action: Analysis of the Third UN Security Council Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security

Youth Leaders Demand Action: Analysis of the Third UN Security Council Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security

July 17, 2020 by Katrina Leclerc

“Coming from a community where youth continue to experience violence, discrimination, limited political inclusion, and are at the brink of losing trust in the government systems, the adoption of UNSCR 2535 is a breath of hope and life to us. There’s nothing more empowering than being recognized, meaningfully included, supported, and given the agency to help build a present and future where we, the youth, are seen as equals across different decision-making tables.” – Lynrose Jane Genon, Young Woman Leader in the Philippines

On July 14, 2020, the United Nations Security Council adopted its third resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS), co-sponsored by France and the Dominican Republic. Resolution 2535 (2020) aims to accelerate and strengthen the implementation of the YPS resolutions by:

  • institutionalizing the agenda within the UN system and establishing a 2-year reporting mechanism;
  • calling for system-wide protection of youth peacebuilders and activists;
  • emphasizing the urgency of the meaningful participation of youth peacebuilders in decision-making on humanitarian response; and
  • recognizing the synergies between the anniversaries of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (women, peace and security), the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the 5th anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Some of the key strengths of UNSCR 2535 build on the persistent work and advocacy of civil society groups, including the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). As we welcome the new resolution, we look forward to their effective implementation!

Intersectionality

A highlight of the resolution is that it emphasizes the intersectionality of the YPS agenda and recognizes that youth are not a uniform group, calling for “protection of all youth, particularly young women, refugees and internally displaced youth in armed conflict and post-conflict and their participation in peace processes.” GNWP has been advocating for, and implementing, intersectional approaches to peace and security for over a decade. We believe that to build sustainable peace, it is necessary to address cumulative barriers that different people and groups face based on their gender, sex, race, (dis)ability, social and economic status, and other factors.

Removing barriers to participation

In practice, intersectionality means recognizing and removing barriers to participation in peacebuilding processes – including conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction. Such barriers are outlined throughout UNSCR 2535, which calls for comprehensive approaches to peacebuilding and sustaining peace by addressing root causes to conflict.

This is particularly important because structural barriers still limit the participation and capacity of youth, particularly young women. GNWP’s Young Women Leaders (YWL) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experience first-hand the “insufficient investment in facilitating inclusion.” For example, in the province of North Kivu, young women have created and run micro-businesses for two and a half years providing them with small revenues to sustain their field work and modest personal expenses. Despite the low income of their micro-businesses, and the fact that they invest all profits into initiatives that benefit their communities, local authorities have been imposing seemingly arbitrary ‘taxes’ on the young women – without documentation or justification. This has hindered their capacity for growth and economic development as many have found that these ‘taxes’ were not proportionally adjusted to their small revenue. It has also impeded their ability to reinvest their small profits to support their peacebuilding initiatives.

The recognition by UNSCR 2535 of the complex and multi-layered barriers to youth participation is important to ensure unjust and burdensome practices, imposed to young people and particularly to young women, are eliminated. Supportive systems must be prioritized to ensure the success of local youth initiatives who contribute to the overall progress and good of societies.

Young people and preventing violent extremism

The resolution also recognizes the role of young people in counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism (PVE). GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace are an example of youth leadership on PVE. In Indonesia, YWL are using education and advocacy to tackle radicalization of young women. In the provinces of Poso and Lamongan, where the YWL operate, they work to prevent and counter violent extremism by addressing the root causes within a human security framework.

Call for WPS and YPS synergies

The resolution calls on Member States to recognize and promote synergies between the Women, Peace and Security (WPS); and Youth, Peace and Security agendas – including the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 (women, peace and security) and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Civil society, particularly women and youth peacebuilders, have long called for greater synergies between WPS and YPS agendas as many of the barriers and challenges faced by women and youth are part of the same exclusionary cultures. The discrimination, marginalization and violence girls and young women experience often continue to adulthood, unless enabling conditions are created for their empowerment. On the other hand, girls and young women who have strong support from family, school and other social institutions are better equipped to realize their full potentials as adults.

GNWP has taken this call for stronger synergies between WPS and YPS in the processes around the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) through its advocacy for an Action Coalition on WPS and YPS. This advocacy was recognized by the Core Group of the GEF with the development of the Compact Coalition on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action within the Beijing+25 review process. While the name of the Compact does not include YPS, the inclusion of young women in decision-making has been highlighted in the Compact’s concept note.

Role of youth in humanitarian response

The resolution recognizes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people as well as the role they take in responding to this health crisis. It calls on policy-makers and stakeholders to guarantee meaningful youth engagement in humanitarian planning and response as essential to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance.

Young people have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic response, providing lifesaving support in local communities gravely affected and vulnerable to the health crisis. For example, GNWP’s Young Women Leaders in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, DRC, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and South Sudan have been providing relief support and information dissemination to promote safe precautionary measures and counter ‘fake news’ within social media. In the Philippines, YWL have distributed ‘dignity kits’ to local communities to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable individuals and families who have been further isolated by the pandemic.

Protection of young activists and support to survivors

Historically, the resolution recognizes the need to protect the civic space of youth peacebuilders and activists – including the important need for explicit protections of human rights defenders. It also calls on Member States to provide “access to quality education, socio-economic support and skills development such as vocational training, to resume social and economic life” to survivors of armed conflict and survivors of sexual violence.

The experience of the Young Women Leaders in DRC has emphasized both the importance of multi-faceted and survivor-centered response to sexual violence, as well as the key roles of youth peacebuilders in addressing impacts of conflict. The young women peacebuilders are supporting survivors of sexual violence by providing psychological and moral support to survivors. Through awareness-raising and collaboration with local partners on the ground they have begun to shift the narrative from victim to survivor, important progress for the stigmatization and agency of young women. However, speaking out about this sensitive issue can put them at risk – therefore, it is essential to ensure adequate protections for young women activists.

Implementation and accountability mechanism

The UNSCR 2535 is also the most action-oriented of the YPS resolutions. It includes specific encouragement to Member States to develop and implement roadmaps on youth, peace and security – with dedicated and sufficient resources. These resources should be intersectional and realistic. This echoes GNWP’s long-standing advocacy for adequate resources to support peacebuilding led by women, including young women. Far too often, roadmaps and action plans are developed without dedicated budgets, which limits the implementation of the agenda and meaningful participation of young people in sustaining peace. Furthermore, the resolution encourages dedicated funding for youth-led and youth-focused organizations, and emphasizes the institutionalization of the YPS agenda within the UN. This will eliminate additional barriers faced by young people as they are often in precarious work and disadvantaged economically. Young people are expected to provide their skills and experiences as volunteers, which further increases the economic divide and forces many to remain or to live in poverty.

Young people have a role to play in sustaining peace and economic well-being of societies. Thus, it is crucial that they be included in all aspects of design, implementation, and monitoring of economic-focused opportunities and initiatives; especially, now within the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic which has created additional disparities and burdens in the state of the world’s economy. The adoption of UNSCR 2535 is an important step towards guaranteeing that. Now – on to the implementation!


GNWP is having ongoing conversations with Young Women Leaders around the world on the relevance of UNSCR 2535 and other YPS resolutions. This is their views:

“UNSCR2535 is relevant both in our communities and globally because it reinforces the importance of youth’s meaningful participation in creating a just and humane society. Given that our country has passed the Anti-Terrorism Law recently, this resolution can also be a protective mechanism for youth activists engaged in different advocacies such as peacebuilding, protecting human rights and ensuring due process.” – Sophia Dianne Garcia, Young Woman Leader in the Philippines

“Coming from a community where youth continue to experience violence, discrimination, limited political inclusion, and are at the brink of losing trust in the government systems, the adoption of UNSCR 2535 is a breath of hope and life to us. There’s nothing more empowering than being recognized, meaningfully included, supported, and given the agency to help build a present and future where we, the youth, are seen as equals across different decision-making tables.” – Lynrose Jane Genon, Young Woman Leader in the Philippines

“As a worker in the local government unit, I think we need to engage the youth throughout this peacebuilding process. Engaging the youth means recognizing us, as one of the political actors that can influence decisions. And those decisions will affect us eventually. We don’t want to be ignored. And at worst, be wasted. Participation, hence is empowerment. And that’s important.” – Cynth Zephanee Nakila Nietes, Young Woman Leader in the Philippines

“As UNSCR 2535 (2020) does not only recognize the specific situation of young people, but also leverages their role and potential for preventing conflicts, building peaceful and inclusive societies and effectively addressing humanitarian needs. That can be attained by strengthening the role of young peacebuilders, especially women, engaging youth in humanitarian response, inviting youth organizations to brief the Council, and considering the specific situation of youth in the organ’s deliberations and actions that all are needed at this age in everyone’s community.” – Shazia Ahmadi, Young Woman Leader in Afghanistan

“In my opinion, this is very relevant. Because as a member of the younger generation, especially in our region, we want to be able to participate with the guarantee of protection. So, with that, we can also be taken into account in efforts to maintain peace itself even in making decisions and other matters relating to peace and humanity.” – Jeba, Young Woman Leader in Indonesia

Solidarity & Peace Amidst the Pandemic: Young Women Leaders Meet Online for the First-Ever Global Dialogue

Solidarity & Peace Amidst the Pandemic: Young Women Leaders Meet Online for the First-Ever Global Dialogue

April 23, 2020 by Heela Yoon and Katrina Leclerc

Edited by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and Agnieszka Fal Dutra-Santos

“Afghan women have been fighting for their right to be meaningfully included in the peace process with the Taliban throughout the past 20 years. Today, we are afraid that amidst the COVID-19 crisis, this progress will be lost, and provisions on women rights will be removed from the peace agreement.” This concern, shared by Sadaf Tahib, the Communication Associate of Afghan Women Welfare and Development Association (AWWDA), was echoed by many of over 50 youth peacebuilders from 11 countries, who came together in an online meeting to share their experiences of preventing conflict and violent extremism, building peace, and addressing the COVID-19 outbreak in their communities.

The meeting was organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, on April 15, 2020. It was the first-time members of GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program from Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Sudan, came together. They were joined by women and youth leaders from Afghanistan, Georgia, Kenya, Lebanon, Myanmar, and Ukraine. By discussing the peace and security problems and the solutions to them amidst the pandemic and despite network connectivity issues, the women and youth peacebuilders sent a powerful message: COVID-19 will not stop us!

The event was also an opportunity to launch the Toolkit and Film for Young Women and Girls on Literacy, Leadership, Economic Empowerment, Media, and Theater. The toolkit and film are evidence-based, context-specific resources for elevating the voices and work of young women in preventing conflict and violent extremism drawn from GNWP’s work. They were developed based on the experiences of young women peacebuilders in Bangladesh and Indonesia, and good practices drawn from GNWP’s work around the world.

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic grows including the aggravated levels of personal anxiety and stress, the women and peacebuilders underscored the need to hold regular discussions and continue supporting each other. Members of the YWL shared their frontline initiatives to reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19 on women and youth peacebuilders. This is showcased in the new podcast ‘GNWP Talks Women, Peace and Security’: Episode 25 on the Young Women Leaders Global Dialogue.

Young women’s frontline leadership

Speaking from Bangladesh, Young Women Leaders Machen Hia and Mathenu Rakhine, shared that they joined the YWL program to “make sure that there is peace and gender equality in [their] community in Cox’s Bazar.” They emphasized that there is still a lot of challenges, and highlighted their contributions to improving the gender sensitivity of humanitarian emergency response to the influx of 1.3 million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. They also shared their experience pre-COVID of conducting gender-sensitive, age-appropriate fundamental literacy and numeracy classes to Rohingya refugee and host community women and girls.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Young Women Leaders are workingto prevent, support and counter increased sexualized violence during the pandemic. During the meeting, Emilie Katondolo and Nicole Musimbi, shared that this work includes using media and technology to dismantle and challenge narratives of ‘victims’ to ‘survivors’ of sexual violence, and ensuring accurate and updated information is provided to women and youth across the communities of Eastern DRC. “Through our program, we try to provide women with opportunities to make income, so that they can improve their financial situation and change their life,” said Nicole.

In Indonesia, Young Women Leaders for Peace, conduct community-level advocacy on women’s rights; gender equality; youth, peace and security (YPS); and human security. Prior to COVID-19, young women have held advocacy meetings in their communities and have developed strong relationships with district-level leaders. Nur Aisyah Maullidah, Ilmiyah Maslahatul and Ririn Anggraeni, shared that since the COVID-19 outbreak, the YWL Indonesia have held online English classes to continue their capacity-building amidst the pandemic.

In the Philippines, Young Women Leaders are also at the forefront of COVID-19 response. Sophia Garcia and Lynrose Genon, presented that young women are distributing face masks, disinfectants, and ‘dignity kits’ to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls are met. These kits are prepared by YWL members and distributed to internally displaced women and youth in Sagonsongan Transitional Temporary Shelter in Marawi, a city ravaged by armed conflict between extremist groups and the Philippine Armed Forces.

Speaking from South Sudan, Elizabeth Biniya, a member ofYoung Women Leaders, and Nyuon Susan Sebit, former Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow at GNWP, discussed their efforts in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local populations. The South Sudanese young women leaders are using community radio to raise awareness of domestic violence and the available support for those affected. They also disseminate information on preventive measures such as hand washing and social distancing. Additionally, the South Sudanese Young Women Leaders organize theater performances in Torit, South Sudan to raise awareness on women’s rights, gender equality, and peace and security among local populations.

In today’s complex and interconnected world, it is important to recognize and promote the synergies between the women and peace and security (WPS) and youth and peace and security (YPS) agendas and how they are linked to humanitarian emergencies. This is highlighted during this global COVID-19 pandemic as we see young women peacebuilders who step up and become first responders in their local communities. In doing so, they not only mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis but they also secure the gains of Afghan women and all other women and youth peacebuilders who have been demanding to meaningfully participate in peace processes and all levels of decision-making.

Want to support young women leading on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic? Share and donate here.

GNWP is grateful for the support of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment; and the collaboration of the Asian Muslim Action Network – Indonesia and Jago Nari Unnayon Sangsta – Bangladesh for the production of the Toolkit and Film.

Please see also other articles produced by the GNWP on COVID-19 and the women and peace and security, and youth and peace and security agendas:

Charting a Feminist Present and Future: Young Women for Peace and Leadership Program Recognized by the United Nations Secretary-General in Report to Security Council on UNSCR 2250

From DRC to Indonesia, from Bangladesh to South Sudan, young women defy gender and age stereotypes and act as leaders, peacebuilders and agents of change in their communities. They are first responders in humanitarian crises, prevent recruitment by violent groups by building a culture of peace, and set up small businesses to increase their financial independence and support their families. In the absence of formal mechanisms and opportunities to meaningfully participate in peace processes and social, political and economic life, young women have forged their own avenues to lead peacebuilding efforts and movements for progressive social transformation.

Learning Together, Inspiring Each Other: Regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace Training in Bangladesh and Indonesia

Learning Together, Inspiring Each Other: Regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace Training in Bangladesh and Indonesia

November 13, 2019 by Mallika Iyer  

Edited by Mavic Cabrera Balleza

“I used to be like the moon, receiving light from only one star. I was focused only on my personal interests and education. After joining the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program, I have learned that women are empowered by so many international laws and capable of anything they set their minds to. I’m like the sun now. I can provide light to help other young women grow,” Elza, a young woman from Lamongan, East Java, Indonesia shared.

With support from NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders has created a strong network of 110 young women leaders in conflict situations and humanitarian emergencies in Bangladesh and Indonesia who support and inspire each other to realize their full potentials as leaders, peacebuilders, and change agents addressing peacebuilding and preventing and countering violent extremism in their communities. By promoting synergies between the Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agendas, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace, a member of GNWP’s Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL) program, has enhanced the leadership potential and peacebuilding skills of young women who, as significant actors in their local communities, contribute to an invincible youth movement for peace, equality, and sustainable development.

Between September 3 and 9, 2019, GNWP and its local partners organized a regional Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) training in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to foster solidarity between young women leaders in Bangladesh and Indonesia. The training also facilitated information and experience-sharing of good practices and lessons learned in their efforts to advocate for the role of young women in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism in both countries and strengthened the regional youth network of young women peacebuilders.

Guided by expert advice and facilitation from GNWP Board Members Bandana Rana, CEDAW Committee Chair from Nepal, and Independent Senator Marilou McPhedran from Canada, the GA4P from Bangladesh and Indonesia who participated in the regional training compared and contrasted the peace and security situations in their countries and communities. They identified common issues such as the prevalence of early, forced, and child marriage, radical and violent extremist groups, and gender inequality perpetuated by social norms and antiquated laws.

Bangladesh has the second-highest the prevalence of early, forced, and child marriage in the world; similarly, Indonesia has approximately 1,459,000 child brides, the eighth highest absolute number of child brides in the world.[1] Many of the GA4P in Bangladesh and Indonesia personally experience familial – or societally-induced – early, forced, and child marriage.[2] “My parents hide my school bag and books in an effort to prevent me from going to school. They are forcing me to get married. That prompted me to run away from my home. Now that I am living alone, it is difficult for me to financially support myself and pay my school fees,” a GA4P from Bangladesh, shared during the regional training. In response, the GA4P from Indonesia drafted and distributed a statement condemning early, forced, and child marriage, as a fundamental violation of human rights, which denies girls their childhood, disrupts higher education, limits socio-economic opportunities, increases the risk of intimate partner violence, and threatens the health of girls and young women. During the regional training, the Indonesian GA4P shared their experiences in collecting signatures from prominent local youth and civil society organizations for the statement. They explained how they were able to effectively communicate their demands to district-level leaders such as the Regent and Vice-Regent of Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Lamongan, East Java, resulting in these leaders’ support for all effective and appropriate measures to abolish traditional practices, which permit or support early, forced, and child marriage.

During the regional training, the young women also discussed the importance of regional advocacy for gender-responsiveness to humanitarian emergencies such as the Rohingya crisis. Rohingya refugee women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh live in overcrowded and mismanaged camps, where they remain vulnerable to sexual violence, devastating floods, and cyclones. Indonesia too is reported to be hosting a population of 12,000 Rohingya refugees in Aceh, Sulawesi, and North Sumatra. Despite significant cultural and language barriers, Indonesians in small fishing communities in Aceh have been welcoming and sympathetic to the refugees, offering food, shelter, and other donations. However, as time has passed, humanitarian relief aid provided by international organizations and the Indonesian government has been depleted. Meanwhile, the number of reports of Rohingya refugees attempting to smuggle themselves to Indonesia and Malaysia in rickety fishing boats in order to escape the dire conditions in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh is steadily increasing. It has become clear that regional cooperation is necessary to address the treatment of the Rohingya people.

Local Bangladeshi women from host communities and Rohingya women and girl refugees living in refugee camps continue to face marginalization and discrimination as a result of the lack of access to education and other basic social services. To curb gender discrimination and improve access to education, the Bangladeshi GA4P have conducted 20 gender-sensitive, age-appropriate functional literacy and numeracy classes with over 180 women and girls. In addition to empowering Rohingya refugee and host community women to read and write, the literacy classes provided a safe space for Rohingya refugee women to share personal issues related to sexual violence in the camps (including intimate partner violence), child marriage, security concerns, and dowries. The GA4P in Bangladesh play a crucial role in dispelling anti-Rohingya rhetoric and negative perceptions developing within host communities as a result of unequal access to and competing demands for resources and social services. The young women work to create positive dialogues between the two communities, beginning with providing basic literacy and numeracy education to Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host community women in Cox’s Bazar.

The Indonesian young women observed their Bangladeshi counterparts as they facilitated a gender-sensitive, age-appropriate functional literacy and numeracy class with Rohingya refugee women and girls in Balukhali Refugee Camp (Camp 9). Inspired by the leadership and teaching skills of the Bangladeshi young women, the Indonesian GA4P committed to working together to develop joint advocacy strategies to support the empowerment of Rohingya refugee women and girls in both countries.

Ultimately, learning about the experiences of other young women leaders in similar yet different cultural, socio-political, and economic contexts during the regional training inspired and motivated the GA4P to further the youth-led advocacy movement for sustainable peace and development. The Girl Ambassadors for Peace are a strong and diverse regional network of young women who represent different religions and ethnic minorities. With enhanced capacities as leaders, peacebuilders, and change agents, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace continue to contribute to gender equality, sustainable development and inclusive and long-lasting peace in their local communities. 


[1] https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/indonesia/, accessed 07-27-2019

[2] https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/indonesia/, accessed 07-27-2019