Category: Localization

Category: Localization

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.

“Our conflicts are not frozen!” – civil society, national and local authorities from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine discuss conflict prevention and Localization of UNSCR 1325

“Our conflicts are not frozen!” – civil society, national and local authorities from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine discuss conflict prevention and Localization of UNSCR 1325

April 8, 2019 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos
 
Conflicts in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus are often described as “frozen.” However, many of the conflicts in the region have been characterized by low-intensity violence that span more than a decade. Despite the ongoing peace negotiations or settlement efforts, the violence and insecurity continue to affect local populations every day.
 
Between 2017 and 2019, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and in partnership with national and local civil society, governments and UN Women country offices implemented the project “Local, National and Regional Strategies to Improve the Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its supporting resolutions in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.” The project aimed to enhance the implementation of the WPS resolutions in these countries, and to contribute to addressing root causes and the lingering impacts of conflicts. On 21-22 March 2019, GNWP and IDP Women’s Association “Consent”, its implementation partner in Georgia convened civil society, local and national government actors who participated in the project at a Regional Monitoring Conference in Borjomi, Georgia.
 
The Regional Monitoring Conference provided a space for the project participants to reflect on the achievements of the project, remaining challenges, and next steps to ensure sustained and effective implementation of the WPS resolutions in their countries and across the regions.
 
 

What have we achieved?

 
1. Building stronger understanding of UNSCR 1325 at the local level and bringing local voices to the national-level discussions.
 
In total, over 350 local authorities and grassroots civil society groups participated in the Localization workshops in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. For many of them, the workshops were the first time they heard about UNSCR 1325 and the supporting WPS resolutions. Localization helped them understand how the agenda is relevant to their local context. In Lviv and Kherson in Ukraine; as well as Gori and Zugdidi in Georgia, local authorities developed Local Action Plans (LAPs) to implement the WPS resolutions in their local areas.
 
LAPs are critical tools that allow to use WPS effectively to address the local security threats stemming from each local area’s specific situation. For example, Kherson, which borders the Crimea region, which had been annexed by Russia, is a host community for internally displaced people (IDPs). Lviv, on the other hand, is home to many volunteers who fought in the war in the East of the country. As they returned home, a major source of insecurity has been the untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by veterans.
 
Gori and Zugdidi border the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. More than 10 years after the end of the war, there are still over 200,000 IDPs in Georgia. Gori and Zugdidi host the highest number of them.
 
The project also enabled local actors, including local women, to voice their security concerns and WPS priorities. “Localization is the most important tool we have to engage local women in discussions about peace and security. For many women from Gagauzia and Tiraspol, the Localization workshop was the first time they were asked about their fears and their views on security” – highlighted Victoria Bucutaru from the Foreign Policy Association, GNWP’s implementation partner from Moldova. For example, during the Localization workshop, an activist from Gagauzia, an autonomous region of Moldova bordering the Transnistrian region, shared the challenges women and human rights defenders face across the administrative line. The local authorities from Gagauzia as well as civil society from both sides of the administrative line identified concrete steps towards addressing these challenges, such as holding workshops to raise awareness about WPS, and the importance of women’s participation in peace and security in the Transnistrian region.
 
2. Improving coordination between government and civil society, and local and national actors.
 
During the project, GNWP and its local civil society partners worked closely with the national and local authorities to build trust and cooperation for stronger UNSCR 1325 implementation.
 
As stated by Marin Bodrug from the Bureau of Reintegration in Moldova, the State institution responsible for NAP monitoring, “the project improved the communication between government and civil society. It helped us develop cooperation in good faith.”
 
In Georgia, the project also contributed to improving the cooperation between local and national level authorities. Sopho Japharidze, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality recalled that being able to participate in Localization workshops in Gori and Zugdidi allowed her to build a stronger relationship with the local authorities and pass on the message that they should not wait for an approval for the centre to implement – they have the lead on implementation!
 
The strengthened cooperation between local and national actors has had tangible impacts. For example, Localization workshop participants in Zugdidi called raised the need for public transportation from Ganmukhuri to Zugdidi. In response, the Prime Minister’s Office on Human Rights and Gender Equality, discussed the transportation request with relevant stakeholders at the national level, which led to the establishment of a bus that regularly travels local people from Ganmukhuri to Zugdidi.
 
3. Changing the narrative on gender and conflict
 
Localization helped “break taboo that surrounds the concept of gender” in local communities in Armenia – shared Knarik Mkrtchyan, one of the implementers in Armenia. It also helped raise awareness about the human impacts of the conflict.
Partnership with the media was also a central component of the project. 127 journalists and media practitioners participated in training workshops in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and media strategies on how to report on UNSCR 1325 were produced in all four countries. These have contributed to a more gender-sensitive coverage of conflict and security. In Ukraine a media and WPS prize was launched. This generated more interest from the media to report on peace and conflict issues that highlight women’s roles ad leaders, peacebuilders and change agents.
 

What challenges remain?

 
Building sustainable and inclusive peace is a long-term process. Despite the progress achieved, the Conference participants identified several remaining gaps as well as emerging challenges, including:

– Focus on institutions and policy-making structures in UNSCR 1325 implementation – The “human dimension” – meaning the impact of conflict on lives of the individuals – still remains neglected and is absent from the National Action Plans;

– Lack of data and evidence – especially from the local level. Local Action Plans and National Action Plans should be more strongly based on needs assessments;

– Insufficient funding and technical capacity for implementation, especially at the local level;

– Gender stereotypes, misunderstanding of gender equality and emergence of “anti-gender movements.”

 
What lies ahead?
 
Based on the challenges, the participants identified the following recommendations and priorities for future work on UNSCR 1325 in the region:
 
1. Continue localization of UNSCR 1325: There is a need to further enhance capacities among local authorities, especially on data collection, needs assessment and monitoring and evaluation. New target groups, such as teachers and religious leaders, should also be reached.
 
2. Strengthen focus on human security: New LAPs and NAPs should include stronger focus on human security.  In countries where NAPs are not up for revision, implementation should include human security components, including women’s access to education and economic opportunities as important drivers of peace.
 
3. Continue regional experience exchanges: The regional component of the project, including “Peace Exchange”, wherein civil society and government representatives from one country would participate in Localization workshops in another country, was particularly valued by participants. More peer-to-peer exchange between local authorities from different countries and from different regions within a country should also be encouraged.
 
4. Engage and train the media at the local level: The media are a critical actor in reconciliation and peacebuilding. It is important to continue enhancing their capacity to report on conflict in a gender-sensitive manner. This is also important for the local media, especially in contexts such as Ukraine, where they are a popular source of information and opinion makers.
 
5. Strengthen decentralization to give local authorities more autonomy to implement the WPS resolutions at the local level.

“Women are our everything” – implementing UNSCR 1325 in Kherson, Ukraine

“Women are our everything” – implementing UNSCR 1325 in Kherson, Ukraine

February 26, 2019 by Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos
 
Sharing the border with Crimea, as well as with Zaporizhia – one of the oblasts affected by the violence in Eastern Ukraine – Kherson, an oblast in southern Ukraine has faced multiple security challenges. These include high numbers of internally displaced persons, and the need to provide adequate services for veterans returning from the frontline, and their families. Women have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of conflict in Kherson. On February 14-15, 2019, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) together with its local partner, Democracy Development Center, held a writing workshop (“writeshop”) on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) 1325 and Ukraine’s National Action Plan (NAP) in Kherson.
 
The workshop gathered over 30 participants from different rayons and cities in the Kherson oblast. Participants included representatives of the Oblast State Administration, local (rayon) administrations and councils, city councils and the civil society. The “writeshop” built on the outcomes of GNWP’s Localization workshop in Kherson, held in June 2018.
 
An Oblast Action Plan was adopted in Kherson in January 2019, shortly before the “writeshop” was held. Therefore, building on the outcomes of the 2018 activities, during which key priorities for WPS implementation in the oblast were identified, the “writeshop” focused on reviewing the Oblast Action Plan to ensure that it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). The participants, with support from GNWP and DDC experts, worked to revise objectives of the plan, making them more “SMART”, and to define concrete indicators. Three objectives were strengthened in this way during the “writeshop”. The State Oblast Administration committed to integrating the changes into the Oblast Action Plan, as well as reviewing the other objectives in a similar manner.
 
In a short interview, Mr. Ihor Pohorily, Head of Family, Gender and Children Rehabilitation section at the Department of Social Protection in the Kherson Oblast Administration, talks about why UNSCR 1325 is important to Kherson, and how the Oblast Administration plans to ensure its effective implementation.
 
Full video available here: https://youtu.be/5-3pbPy9gqM
 
Q: Why is United Nations Resolution 1325 relevant to your oblast?
 
A: UNSCR 1325 is very important for Kherson because women’s issues are important to the oblast. The objective of this plan is to increase the participation of women at all levels of decision-making so that the women are well represented in all spheres of governance in Kherson.
 
Q: Can you tell us about the Kherson Oblast Action Plan and how you adopted it?
 
The Oblast Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 was developed following a directive from Ukraine’s Prime Minister. It was developed by the local authorities, whose duty it is to implement national laws in the oblast, and to adapt them to the local reality in Kherson.
 
The plan also provides orientation for local authorities, including the authorities in the rayons and cities, to develop Local Action Plans.
The Local Action Plans should respond to the concrete issues and the needs of the local populations.
 
Q: What are the next steps for implementing UNSCR 1325 in Kherson following the workshop conducted by GNWP and Democracy Development Center on 14-15 February 2019?
 
Following the workshop, today and yesterday, conducted with the support of our international partners, we committed to revising the Oblast Action Plan, using the “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound) methodology. This will be the first step towards updating and strengthening the plan. We will also collect feedback from the implementers at the local level, in order to identify the gaps in the plan and make necessary changes to ensure effective implementation of the Oblast Action Plan.
 
Q: How do you see your role in promoting women’s meaningful participation at all levels?
 
My role as a representative of the Oblast State Administration is to coordinate the actions by other key stakeholders, build the capacity of specialists who can support decision-makers at the local level to effectively implement their Local Action Plans, strengthen and monitor the activities and implementation at the local level.
 
Women are our everything. As a man, I strive to support them and help to make their life better every day.