Category: Media

Category: Media

Changing the narrative: Colombian reporters put women’s peacebuilding work in the spotlight

(Español abajo.)

January 6, 2021 by Cecilia Lazara

Recognizing the critical role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflict and crisis is one of the central tenets of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Women are at the forefront of peacebuilding and addressing the root causes of conflict in their communities. Recognizing and supporting their leadership is not only right – but it is also strategic. Empirical evidence shows that when women are actively involved in peace negotiations, peace agreements have a higher probability of being more durable and sustainable over time. Colombia has been a key example of this- women negotiators and civil society were critical in reaching the peace agreement between the government and the FARC. They also ensured that the peace agreement is inclusive and addresses the needs of those most vulnerable. Moreover, after the adoption of the peace agreement, women have been monitoring the progress in its implementation and advocating for the institutionalization of its provisions – especially those related to gender equality – at the local level.

Women peacebuilders continue to demonstrate their adaptability and resilience in the face of emerging crises. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, women have become first responders to the pandemic. In Colombia, women peacebuilders have distributed food, hygiene packages, and sexual and reproductive health products to those most vulnerable, while continuing their advocacy to implement the peace agreement.

However, the work of women peacebuilders often remains invisible, and therefore unrecognized. Colombian women’s efforts to advance peace agreement implementation, address the root causes of conflict in their communities, and respond to the impacts of COVID-19 have been dismissed as part of their “care duties”. Therefore, they are taken for granted as a characteristic of female nature, diminishing the skills and sacrifices they require. Despite their contributions, the dominant narratives commonly depict women as passive victims, rather than acknowledging their leadership and agency. This narrow outlook perpetuates gender stereotypes inherent in the patriarchal system and restricts the spaces and opportunities available to women to advance their work.

Safeguarding spaces for women peacebuilders and ensuring their meaningful participation in decision-making at all levels is one of the key elements of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda. To fully implement the agenda, we must shift the victimizing narrative and highlight women-led efforts to build just and inclusive societies. Journalists and media professionals are critical allies in this regard. They shape how women are perceived in society, stimulate debates about gender equality, and promote women’s roles as peacebuilders and agents of change. Likewise, they can also report on the status of national policies to provide the civil society with the information necessary to hold the government accountable for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the peace agreement and ensure that women are meaningfully included in it.

Recognizing the key role played by the media in the operationalization of WPS on the ground, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) have worked with journalists across Colombia to increase the awareness of the WPS agenda, their understanding of their own role in advancing it, and their capacity to integrate gender-responsive analysis in their reporting. In 2018 and 2019, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Global Affairs Canada Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), GNWP and RNM held two trainings to enhance journalists’ capacities to advance the WPS implementation through gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive reporting, and to challenge traditional and conservative discourses.

In August 2020, with the support from Norad, we launched the National Media and WPS Prize, in partnership with Pacifista – a media collective dedicated to promoting journalism rooted in peace and human rights principles. The National Media and WPS Prize aimed to encourage professional journalists and students to reflect on women’s experiences by submitting written articles, audio, and audiovisual materials.

The materials were evaluated by a panel of peacebuilding and media experts. Winners were identified into two categories: professional journalists and journalism students. Additionally, a special prize was awarded for work that provided a particularly original angle on women’s leadership in peacebuilding. The winner of the special prize will travel to the Philippines to closely observe and document good practices on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the peace agreement and compare them with experiences in Colombia.

Please see below a summary of the recognized materials:

The podcast follows three women living in the North of Cauca: an indigenous leader, an ex-combatant, and an indigenous guard. It highlights their efforts to achieve women’s rights in the midst of armed conflict, calling them “the resistance within the resistance.” Thus, it sheds light on women’s work to build sustainable and gender-equal peace – including through supporting women’s economic empowerment, challenging the patriarchal culture, and addressing the continuum of violence in rural areas, even after the internal armed conflict. Women are resisting and raising their voices to change the course of history.

This podcast tells the stories of four community leaders who have been fighting for the vindication of women’s rights and peacebuilding in the municipality of Xuacha, Cundinamarca. Xuacha is seen as a place where all the problems converge, but at the same time, it features a glimmer of hope personified in grassroots leaders. The podcast presents a type of leadership that realizes the meaning and importance of UNSCR 1325 on the ground.

The special prize was awarded to Jeimmy Lorena Gutiérrez Turmequé. The student’s workclearly outlines women leaders’ efforts amid increased threats and barriers to their work – such as increasing gender-based violence, the killing of social leaders, and the growing inequalities caused by neoliberal economic policies. Its fundamental contribution lies in the fact that it sheds light on the women’s movement and the grassroots leaders often ignored by the mainstream media, but essential to prevent conflict, promote peace and stability.

GNWP congratulates the winners! We also want to thank all those who participated in the competition. This is a key step to strengthening the alliance between the media and women peacebuilders to create awareness and promote the WPS agenda’s core values. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership!


Cambiando la narrativa: reporteros colombianos colocan el trabajo de las mujeres constructoras de paz en el centro de la escena

El 6 de enero 2021 por Cecilia Lazara

Distinguir el papel fundamental que desempeñan las mujeres en la prevención y resolución de los conflictos es considerado uno de los elementos centrales de la histórica Resolución del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas (RCSNU) 1325. Las mujeres se posicionan a la vanguardia de la consolidación de paz, abordando las raíces de los conflictos en sus comunidades. Por tanto, reconocer y apoyar su liderazgo no solo es lo correcto, también es estratégico. La evidencia empírica ha demostrado que cuando las mujeres participan activamente en las negociaciones de paz, los acuerdos tienden a tener una mayor probabilidad de ser más duraderos y sostenibles a lo largo del tiempo. Colombia representa un claro ejemplo de esto. Allí, las mujeres negociadoras y la sociedad civil han sido fundamentales para concretar el acuerdo de paz entre el gobierno y las FARC, asegurándose que su carácter sea inclusivo y aborde las necesidades de las poblaciones más vulnerables. Asimismo, luego de su adopción, las mujeres siguen monitoreando los avances en su implementación y abogando por la institucionalización de sus disposiciones a nivel local, especialmente aquellas relacionadas con la igualdad de género.

Paralelamente, las mujeres constructoras de paz continúan demostrando su capacidad de adaptación y resistencia frente a las crisis emergentes. Tras el brote de COVID-19, han estado en la primera línea en respuesta a la pandemia. En Colombia, las mujeres se han ocupado de la distribución de alimentos, paquetes de higiene y productos de salud sexual y reproductiva destinados a personas vulnerables, a la vez que continúan con su labor de defensa y promoción para la implementación efectiva del acuerdo de paz.

Sin embargo, a menudo, su trabajo permanece invisible y no se lo reconoce como se debería. Por lo contrario, los esfuerzos de las mujeres colombianas tienden a identificarse como parte de sus “deberes de cuidado”. Por tanto, su labor se da por sentado como una característica de la naturaleza femenina, menospreciando las habilidades y los sacrificios que conlleva. A pesar de sus contribuciones, las narrativas dominantes suelen representar a las mujeres como víctimas pasivas, en lugar de reconocer su liderazgo y agencia. Esta perspectiva reduccionista solo sirve para perpetuar los estereotipos de género inherentes al sistema patriarcal y limita los espacios y oportunidades disponibles para que las mujeres avancen en su trabajo.

Es por ello que uno de los elementos primordiales de la agenda de Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (MPS) consiste en salvaguardar los espacios para las mujeres constructoras de paz y asegurar su participación significativa en la toma de decisiones en todos los ámbitos. No obstante, para poder implementar plenamente la agenda, es necesario cambiar la narrativa victimizante y destacar los esfuerzos liderados por mujeres para construir sociedades justas e inclusivas. En este sentido, los periodistas y los profesionales de los medios son aliados fundamentales ya que describen la manera en cómo se percibe a las mujeres en la sociedad, estimulan los debates sobre la igualdad de género y promueven su papel como constructoras de paz y agentes de cambio. Asimismo, también sociabilizan la información sobre el estado de las políticas nacionales; componente clave que ayuda a la sociedad civil a ejercer presión sobre el gobierno para que rinda cuentas sobre el avance de la implementación de la RCSNU 1325 y el acuerdo de paz, y garantice la inclusión significativa de las mujeres.

La Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) reconocemos el papel fundamental desempeñado por los medios de comunicación en la operacionalización de la agenda MPS sobre el terreno local. Es por ello que trabajamos junto con periodistas para aumentar la sensibilización de la agenda en Colombia, facilitando la comprensión del rol que los medios ocupan en su promoción e incentivando el desarrollo de las capacidades periodísticas con el fin de integrar un enfoque sensible al género en los informes. Durante el 2018 y 2019, GNWP y RNM realizó dos capacitaciones con el apoyo de la Agencia Noruega de Cooperación para el Desarrollo (Norad) y el Programa de Operaciones de Estabilización de la Paz de Asuntos Globales de Canadá (PSOPs). El objetivo de estos talleres se centró en el avance de la implementación de la MPS a través de un periodismo con perspectiva de género y construcción de paz, capaz de desafiar los discursos tradicionales y conservadores.

En agosto de 2020, se lanzó el Premio nacional de periodismo Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad, con el apoyo de Norad, y en asociación con Pacifista, un colectivo de medios dedicado a promover el periodismo arraigado en los principios de paz y derechos humanos. El Premio nacional de periodismo MPS tuvo como objetivo alentar a los estudiantes y periodistas profesionales a reflexionar sobre las experiencias de las mujeres a través de textos, audios y materiales audiovisuales.

Todos los materiales fueron evaluados por un panel de expertos en construcción de paz y medios de comunicación. A su vez, los ganadores fueron clasificados en dos categorías: periodistas profesionales y estudiantes de periodismo. Además, se otorgó un premio especial para el trabajo que destacara un ángulo original sobre el liderazgo de la mujer en la consolidación de paz. Como resultado, el ganador del premio especial viajará a Filipinas con el propósito de observar de cerca su plan de acción y documentar la implantación de buenas prácticas de la RCSNU 1325 y el acuerdo de paz, para luego compararlas con la experiencia de Colombia.

Se presenta a continuación un resumen de los materiales reconocidos:

  • En la categoría de periodistas profesionales, la pieza ganadora fue: “La Resistencia en medio de la resistencia” de Lidha Beltrán Valero – disponible en https://soundcloud.com/rutas-del-conflicto/podcast-la-resistencia-en-medio-de-la-resistencia
    El podcast sigue la historia de tres mujeres que viven en el norte del Cauca: una líder indígena, una excombatiente y una guardia indígena. En él, se destacan los esfuerzos por la obtención de los derechos fundamentales de las mujeres en medio del conflicto armado, llamándolas “la resistencia en medio de la resistencia”. Este relato pone de relieve el trabajo de las mujeres en la construcción de una paz sostenible y con igualdad de género –  apoyando el empoderamiento económico de la mujer, desafiando la cultura patriarcal y luchando contra la violencia continua en las zonas rurales, incluso después del conflicto armado interno. Las mujeres no se rinden, resisten y alzan la voz para cambiar el curso de la historia.
  • En la categoría de estudiantes, el primer lugar se le asignó a: “Xuacha Lucha Femenina y Popular” de Jeimmy Lorena Gutiérrez Turmequé – disponible en: https://revistalcolina.blogspot.com/2020/08/revista-colina-xuacha.html?m=1
    Este podcast cuenta las historias de cuatro líderes comunitarios que han estado luchando por la reivindicación de los derechos de las mujeres y la construcción de paz en el municipio de Xuacha, Cundinamarca. Xuacha es visto como un lugar donde convergen todos los problemas, pero en simultáneo, presenta un halo de esperanza personificado en estos líderes populares. El podcast presenta un tipo de liderazgo que da cuenta del significado y la importancia de la RCSNU 1325 sobre el terreno local.

Finalmente, el premio especial se le otorgó a Jeimmy Lorena Gutiérrez Turmequé. La pieza de la estudiante describe claramente los esfuerzos de las mujeres líderes para continuar con su trabajo en medio de las crecientes amenazas y las barreras que se imponen – como el aumento de la violencia de género, el asesinato de líderes sociales y las desigualdades causadas por las políticas económicas neoliberales. La contribución fundamental del material reside en destacar la importancia del movimiento de las mujeres y los líderes comunitarios; dos actores frecuentemente ignorados por los principales medios de comunicación, pero que son sin embargo esenciales para prevenir conflictos, promover la paz y la estabilidad en los territorios.

¡GNWP felicita a los ganadores, y a todos los que participaron en el concurso! Este es un paso clave para fortalecer la alianza entre los medios de comunicación y las mujeres constructoras de paz con el fin de concientizar y promover los valores centrales de la agenda MPS. ¡Esperamos poder continuar fortaleciendo aún más esta asociación en un futuro!

Sharing stories to build inclusive peace: Georgian journalists speak out about the impacts of COVID-19 and conflict on women

November 2, 2020 by Heela Yoon and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the government to prevent its spread have created serious socio-economic challenges for many families in Shida Kartli. However, despite the difficulties and the risk of contracting the virus, women remain on the ground, supporting each other and helping the most vulnerable.”

Nino Chibchiuri, “Women on the occupation line in pandemic conditions”(Winning article in the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia)

Local and national journalist play a key role in implementing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and in building societies that are equal, peaceful and grounded in human rights principles. They provide people and communities with the information necessary to hold their governments accountable. They also shape attitudes, and can either contribute to perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes, or promote women’s contributions as leaders and peacebuilders.

Thus, journalistic work comes with many responsibilities. Increasingly, it also comes with a high risk. Violent attacks on journalists – including killings, arbitrary arrests and kidnapping – have been increasingly common, reaching “unprecedented levels” in 2018. The situation further deteriorated in 2019, when Reporters Without Borders noted that “hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear.” The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the risks and challenges faced by journalists. Across the world, there has been an increase in legislation threatening to censor free speech, arrests of journalists, as well as threats and harassments. 

Against this background, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Women’s Information Center (WIC) and with support from the Austrian Development Cooperation, organized a series of online trainings for journalists in Georgia in May 2020. The workshops raised awareness of the basic concepts of gender equality, the importance of women’s meaningful participation in politics and peace negotiations, and the different needs of women and girls in times of conflict and crisis situations among media practitioners. During the workshops, the participants and experts – including women from conflict-affected areas – discussed the role of the media during the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that while the media could play an important role in disseminating life-saving information about the pandemic and preventative measures, which is scarce outside of major cities, it often fails to do so. The participants noted that in some instances the media has contributed to spreading incorrect information, and that coverage of the impact of the pandemic on women – for example, the impacts on reproductive health and the unpaid care work – has been completely absent from the reporting.

The online trainings organized by GNWP and WIC paved the way for local journalists and peacebuilders in Georgia to share their stories and stronger recommendations for the implementation of WPS agenda. They equipped the journalist and peacebuilders with knowledge and skills necessary to produce gender- and conflict-sensitive reports on COVID-19 and on peace and security.

To complement the training and to encourage more reporting on women and peace and security including the impact of the pandemic on women’s lives including their peacebuilding efforts, GNWP and WIC launched the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia.

As a result of the intensive training course and the Media and WPS prize, nine media projects were submitted to the competition.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, GNWP and WIC proudly recognize the three winning media materials, which highlight the key roles of women peacebuilders in the implementation of WPS agenda and in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia. 

Please see summaries of the three recognized materials below.

First Place: Nino Chibchiuri, “Women on the occupation line in pandemic conditions”

Photo: Nino Chibchiuri

Full text available at: http://radiomosaic.ge/index.php/articles/9073-2020-08-13-08-34-25?fbclid=IwAR3H73WBrxbFhO1XLbyUqhQjoH2z2je1xJ7wdWERP_aMmF3ckFxPw5GKzTU

In this engaging article, Ms. Nino Chibchiuri highlights the role of women peacebuilders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article focuses on the lives of local women in conflict zones and the way in which the crisis has negatively affected women. For example, it shares the story of a mother of three from Tsitelubani Village near the occupation line, who has been “selling sugar and bread to be able to make a modest income due to shortage of food supplies.”

The article uses the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight a range of challenges related to gender equality in the conflict-affected region of Shida Kartli. These include: lack of physical and psychosocial support for women affected by conflict; exclusion of women from decision-making; and the negative gender stereotypes that result in women being perceived as “second-class citizens”.

However, the article emphasizes that women are not helpless victims of the pandemic and gender inequality. It provides several examples of women who have been mobilizing, distributing food packages, and supporting each other during the challenging times.

Second Place: Nana Kobalia, “‘Charirama’ – a farm in Darchel, run by a young woman”

Photo: Nana Kobalia

Video available at: https://odishinews.ge/2020/07/01/charirama-pherma-darchelshi-romelsats-akhalgazrda-qali-udzghveba/ 

This video reportage captures the story of a young woman farmer named Lela Kobalia and the struggle of her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The video follows young female farmers to show how they are making revenue by producing organic fruits and vegetables – a trade traditionally associated with men. The author also mentions the support of government to help local farmers enter their products into the EU market. 

Third Place: Nina Kheladze, “The role of women in peace”

Photo: Nina Kheladze

Full text available at: https://bit.ly/3lJUhxx

The article highlights the stories and struggles of peace activists involved in different peace projects in Abkhazia, one of the breakaway regions in Georgia. It illustrates the important role of the civil society in building bridges and strengthening social cohesion within the conflict-affected communities, and the important role of women in the implementation of these peace-related projects.  

The article also notes the exchange of information between the activists in Abkhazia and  their counterparts in Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tbilisi. GNWP and WIC appreciate this as a good sign of potential collaboration among local women peacebuilders.  The article also draws attention to the need of local peacebuilders in the region for greater funding and technical support.

“Women don’t participate in the peace process – they don’t know how. It’s the journalists’ job to change this!”

July 6, 2020 by Heela Yoon and Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos

“Resolution 1325 is one of the most important international laws we have. It guarantees women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making. But in Georgia, women do not participate in the peace negotiation and important discussions, because they don’t have the information on how to get involved. In conflict areas, television is the main source of information for women, but it does not speak about peace, or about the importance of women’s participation. It’s the journalists’ role to change this!”

This is how Ms.Lela Akiashvili, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Human Rights and Gender Equality in Georgia, addressed the participants of a four-part online training on Women and Peace and Security (WPS) for Georgian media representatives, organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Women’s Information Center (WIC), with support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) between May 20th and June 11th, 2020.

The government of Georgia adopted its third National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of UN Security Council’s Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on WPS in 2018, for the period 2018-2020. Thanks to the advocacy by civil society organizations – including GNWP’s partners, WIC and IDP Women’s Association “Consent” – the latest NAP includes a stronger focus on human security, participation of vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced women, and conflict prevention, including through using early warning systems. However, grassroots organizations and local populations in Georgia have very little or no knowledge about the NAP and UNSCR 1325. As a result, this transformative policy may not be effectively implemented.

Journalists play a key role in the implementation of policies. They can bring the resolutions to the local communities and provide the people with information to hold governments accountable. They also have the power to change narratives about women’s roles in peace and security, by highlighting their leadership and contributions, instead of portraying them as helpless victims. However, in practice, this role often remains unfulfilled. According to the Global Media Monitoring report, in 2015, only 24% of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female, and most stories about peace (64%) reinforced gender stereotypes. GNWP’s work with media representatives in Armenia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Georgia, Moldova, Nigeria, the Philippines and Ukraine confirms this. For example, in Ukraine, textual analysis of leading national newspapers conducted by the journalists has shown that women are portrayed as sex objects and incapable of taking decision-making positions. In Nigeria, the journalists found that only between 5 and 10 per cent of stories in major dailies featured women. Therefore, in order to effectively tap into the power of the media to advance the women and peace and security agenda, their own awareness and appreciation of this agenda must also be enhanced. This is the primary reason why GNWP developed its Media and WPS program.

In Georgia, many journalists – especially at the local level – are not aware of the WPS resolutions or women’s roles in building sustainable peace, and often view women as weak and powerless. As part of its effort to support implementation of WPS and meaningful participation of women in peace processes in Georgia, GNWP and WIC organized a series of online media trainings on “Media and Gender Equality in Conflict and Peace Process”. The aim of the training was to increase the awareness of Georgian journalists about their roles in supporting gender equality, women’s meaningful participation, the implementation of Georgia’s NAP on UNSCR 1325, and in promoting gender- and conflict-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training came at a critical time. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays and suspension of work for many civil society organizations. Moreover, the wide-reaching socio-economic and peace and security impacts of the pandemic make the role of the media more crucial than ever. To address the “pandemic of disinformation,” GNWP and WIC with the support of ADA have decided to hold the media training virtually.

As a result, the training took place as a series of four interactive online discussions. During the first online workshop, the participants learned and discussed the basic concepts of gender equality and reflected on the different needs of women and girls in time of conflict and crises. The journalists conducted a gender-sensitive analysis of the content of local and national newspapers to better understand how women are portrayed in the media and how these representations are different from the representation of men. During the second workshop, the participants deepened their knowledge of UNSCR 1325 and other resolutions on WPS. They also heard from Lela Akiashvil – the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Human Rights and Gender Equality in Georgia – about the national and local policies and activities implemented in the country to achieve the objectives of the resolutions. During the third workshop, the participants engaged in an interactive discussion about women’s roles in the Georgian peace process. They learned about the structure and modality of the ongoing peace negotiation and listened to experiences of women from areas bordering the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. During the fourth training, the participants analyzed the specific needs of women and girls in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and what is required for a gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response.  They also examined  how Georgian women – including women peacebuilders – are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The participants emphasized the importance of implementing the WPS agenda during the pandemic as this can contribute in addressing gender inequalities and prevention of violence.

The workshops equipped the journalists with knowledge and skills necessary to produce gender- and conflict-sensitive reports on COVID-19 and on peace and security. As a result of the intensive training course, the journalists committed to practice more gender-sensitive and conflict-sensitive reporting. As one of the participants Nina stated, “As journalists, we should focus more on the needs of women and girls during the pandemic, share stories of female doctors and healthcare workers, and highlight their achievements and challenges.” Another participant, Nuka, said “Media is not only a source of information. It shapes norms and attitudes.”

During the last training, the National Media and WPS Prize in Georgia was launched. The journalists have a month to submit articles, audio and video materials that cover peace and security or COVID-19 issues from a gender- and conflict-sensitive perspectives. Stay tuned for GNWP’s announcement of the winning journalists and their entries!