Category: News

Category: News

Solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli Civilians Affected by the Cycles of Violence

14 December 2023

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) strongly condemns the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombings and forced displacement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023. These attacks have thus far killed 18,200 Palestinians — 75 per cent of whom are women and children. GNWP mourns the loss of every civilian life, including the 1,200 Israelis killed during Hamas’ assault in October. We grieve for Palestinian and Israeli citizens who suffer the direct and indirect impacts of brutal military occupation and the cycles of violence it engenders. GNWP stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their decades-long fight for freedom, equality and self-determination.

GNWP urges the international community to implement an immediate ceasefire and a continued administration and delivery of humanitarian and logistical aid to hospitals and Gazans. We express deep concern over the increasing number of diseases brought about by the Israeli government’s deliberate cutting off of water, food and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, fulfilling Article 2 of the Genocide Convention and Article 5 of the Rome Statute.

We are disturbed by the alarming number of civilian and media casualties, which starkly contradicts UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 on the safety of journalists and Article 9 of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which “Calls upon all parties to armed conflict to respect fully international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and girls, especially as civilians, in particular the obligations applicable to them under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the Protocol thereto of 1967, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 and the Optional Protocol thereto of 1999 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the two Optional Protocols thereto of 25 May 2000, and to bear in mind the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

In light of these, we:

  • Implore the Israeli government to implement an immediate ceasefire, the protection of all civilians and human rights activists in Palestine, the right to freedom of expression and the respect of International Human Rights and Humanitarian laws.
  • Call for the timely and uninterrupted delivery of essential humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including food, water, fuel and medicine. 
  • Urge the banning of white phosphorus bombs by the Israeli Defense Forces and condemn its unlawful use against civilian populations in Gaza and South Lebanon.
  • Call for the unconditional release of all prisoners arbitrarily detained by the Israeli government and held without a trial or charge under administrative detention.
  • Strongly urge the UN Security Council to fulfill its legal and moral responsibilities by maintaining international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter while ensuring women’s rights to participate in decision-making.

As a feminist peacebuilding coalition, GNWP recognizes the widespread impact of this aggression on Palestine, the region and the world. This ongoing and intensified violence has a profound emotional impact on Palestinian diaspora communities worldwide, who endure direct and intergenerational trauma. GNWP is committed to supporting Palestinians’ humanitarian and psychosocial needs, and sustain its support to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon through our social cohesion efforts with the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) network. We commend the efforts of Palestinian and Israeli women peacebuilders and human rights defenders in dismantling the systemic barriers to peace and security in the region. GNWP is dedicated to sustaining our partnerships with organizations building and strengthening the necessary conditions that guarantee human rights, justice and equality.

We call upon the international community and all relevant parties to prioritize peace, human rights and well-being of all civilians, especially women, children, and youth. Regrettably, the Gaza Strip has become a tragic burial ground for innocent civilians, and the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombings only serve to perpetuate violence. We must end this suffering, uphold the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and ensure that diverse women’s voices are included in finding enduring solutions.

The World’s First National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security – An analysis of Finnish commitments

9 December 2021

Katrina Leclerc[1]

In August 2021, the peace and security community welcomed the first National Action Plan (NAP) on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) under Finnish leadership.

The Finnish NAP (2021-2024) comes at a time when we are witnessing a rise in the impact of the YPS community – with thousands of youth-led social justice movements providing emergency assistance in pandemic responses in the Philippines, to global anti-racism demands in the United States, to civil disobedience following the February coup in Myanmar. Young people are making waves on the international stage, further demonstrating their agency in peace.

Finland is one of the pioneers of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, having first announced its NAP development process in 2019, and co-hosting the first international symposium on the positive role of young people in peace processes in Helsinki in March of that year. The Finnish YPS NAP builds on the standard for NAP drafting, strongly inspired by the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. National action plans have been the primary method to translate international law into actionable commitments by governments, since the ground-breaking adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR on WPS) in 2000.

Effective implementation of policy commitments

Following the adoption of UNSCR 2250 on YPS in 2015, young peacebuilders and their allies have been debating whether or not NAPs are the most effective tool to institutionalize and operationalize the agenda. Nevertheless, the Finnish NAP, followed by the Nigerian NAP, paves the way for Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, and the Philippines, among others, who have announced their development of national action plans on this thematic area.

The question of effective NAP development aside – the NAP process outlined by Finland demonstrates the need for an inclusive consultation and drafting process.

“Our 2250 network of youth organizations and other civil society actors played a key role at all stages of the NAP process. We organized two rounds of consultations that produced input for the NAP, we were invited to give comments to draft documents, and had a constant dialogue with the ministry formally and informally. We also received some public funding that enabled us to organize the consultations. In general, our views were very well received and taken into account. Of course there is always room for improvement, and we are confident that our active role and youth involvement will continue in the next stages.” – Kaisa Larjomaa, International Advocacy Specialist at the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi; Coordinator of the 2250 network of Finland

It also addresses a critical gap in some other countries’ NAPs, that of domestic implementation. Several countries which are considered “at peace,” such as Finland, have been criticized for adopting NAPs on WPS (or other thematic areas) which have little to no domestic focus. This means that a country’s NAP is almost exclusively linked to its international commitments rather than also addressing local gaps in peace and security. Finland’s NAP is refreshingly diverse in its approach and recognizes, targets, and prioritizes a dual implementation – both domestic and foreign.  

The priority areas in Finland’s NAP on YPS follow the five pillars of the YPS agenda (participation, prevention, partnerships, protection, and disengagement and reintegration). Importantly, it also includes a cross-cutting theme on intersectionality. It pulls from lessons learned from UNSCR 1325, and the WPS agenda, and demands an intersectional analysis inspired by the long-examined context of sex and gender. Finland commits to also addressing the specific marginalization of boys and young men. In Finland, young women are more likely to meaningfully participate in political decision-making. Interestingly, the NAP does not have young women-specific measures in this regard.

The Finnish NAP expands further to various other facets of young people’s identities such as sexual orientation, disability, race, religion, social-economic and educational backgrounds. By doing so, Finland recognizes the diversity of young people and focuses on their strengths and barriers – an emerging approach promoted by intersectional feminist actors.

“An intersectional approach will be promoted in the action plan by involving different types of young people and youth organisations and by providing them with the opportunity to also participate in the plan’s monitoring and evaluation. […] The intersectional approach also means taking into account that some young people need more support in order to play a meaningful role in decision-making.” (Finland National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security, 2021, p. 26).

Overall, the priority areas of the Finnish NAP touch on a wide range of themes, including the humanitarian-development-peace “triple” nexus. Finland has committed to integrating a YPS perspective into development cooperation, humanitarian work, and peacebuilding. As an important donor to the humanitarian and peacebuilding communities, Finland could increase investment in youth-led initiatives. Additionally, Finland has committed to raising awareness of young human rights defenders’, peacebuilders’, and activists’ work, rights, and need for protection.

Within the context of this new digital era, it is fitting that the NAP also emphasizes social media as both a tool and a threat to peace and security. Finland outlines commitments to prevent the spread of misinformation and fake news by promoting media literacy and peace education. Furthermore, it recognizes the impact of mental health on young people and describes it as a barrier to participation and protection, while viewing it as a prevention issue.

The Finnish NAP is ground-breaking and innovative when it comes to priorities for Youth, Peace and Security implementation. There is no doubt that Finland has demonstrated significant leadership with the development and adoption of this policy – in partnership and cooperation with civil society and young people. Several questions remain in terms of implementation and monitoring, especially with the lack of a specific, dedicated budget attached to this NAP. However, with genuine commitment and continued leadership, Finnish young people and youth across the world will surely benefit from this innovative policy approach.

GNWP wishes to congratulate Finland on the collaborative process which led to the adoption of this first NAP on YPS. GNWP is enthusiastic and optimistic about its impact, and we look forward to collaborating for a localized implementation.


[1] Katrina Leclerc is the Youth, Peace and Security Policy Specialist and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She manages GNWP’s global YPS policy work and Young Women Leaders for Peace programs in Eastern Africa.

Take urgent action to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls and restore peace

23 August 2021

The Global Women Network of Peacebuilders (GNWP) urges a nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan and an immediate cessation of violence. As the country faces an escalating human rights crisis and humanitarian catastrophe, we call on all parties to ensure respect for women’s human rights and protect women and youth peacebuilders, human rights defenders, journalists, and activists facing threats and violence.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban seized power, including control of major cities in Afghanistan, just two weeks ahead of the complete withdrawal of American and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops. The subsequent deterioration of security, an ongoing drought, and the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have left 18 million people in need of humanitarian aid, over 300,000 people displaced, and hundreds of desperate asylum-seekers. In the Taliban-controlled areas, Afghan women are denied access to education, healthcare, protection, and freedom of movement. They are also being subjected to sexual slavery and forced to marry Taliban fighters. Additionally, the Taliban targets women and youth activists, peacebuilders, human rights defenders, and journalists who have risked their lives to advocate for peace, gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights.

Perpetuating oppressive gender roles is central to the Taliban’s governance vision. Therefore, the Taliban’s return to power has begun to derail gains in gender equality and the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Despite their marginalization from the failed Intra-Afghan Peace Process, women have played a pivotal role in building sustainable peace in Afghanistan. The rights of Afghan women, youth, and other historically marginalized groups must be protected and preserved.  Their leadership must be recognized, amplified, and supported in any peacebuilding or humanitarian response to the crisis. GNWP calls on the Taliban to adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and women’s rights.

GNWP stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, especially grassroots women and youth peacebuilders. We echo their calls for:

  1. Immediate action to protect women and women’s rights through:
    • An immediate cessation of all hostilities, nationwide ceasefire, and adherence with international humanitarian law;
    • Immediate support for the evacuation of Afghans who are at heightened risk of persecution by the Taliban, particularly women and youth human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, through the provision of emergency visas and transportation; and the cessation of deportations of asylum seekers; and
    • Protection of the rights of women, youth, LBGTQIA+ persons, and all other historically marginalized groups, particularly human rights defenders, peacebuilders, journalists, and activists, including through the provision of safe houses and relief and recovery services for survivors of gender-based violence and uninhibited access to education and healthcare.
  2. Gender-responsive humanitarian action through:
    • Immediate, safe, and unfettered access for humanitarian actors aiding across conflict lines through the establishment of humanitarian corridors; and
    • A significant increase in funds for the Humanitarian Appeal for Afghanistan and flexible, direct, and rapid funding to frontline local civil society organizations responding to the urgent needs of women and other historically marginalized groups impacted by armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing drought.
  3. Establishment of an inclusive national reconciliation process through:
    • The establishment of an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of national reconciliation for an inclusive, just, durable, realistic, and sustainable political settlement that ensures the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women, young people, and all other historically marginalized groups;
    • Gender-responsive investigative processes, including those to be established by the United Nations Human Rights Council, to document and prosecute all war crimes and crimes against humanity; and
    • A renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and strengthening UN’s presence with a robust mandate and adequate technical and financial capacities to protect the rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups in Afghanistan.

Sustainable peace in Afghanistan will only be possible if it is achieved through an inclusive, locally owned, participatory, and bottom-up approach that addresses the root causes of conflict. It must ensure access to inclusive and quality education, adequate health care systems, a vibrant civil society, religious freedom, and gender equality. GNWP urges the United Nations Security Council and the broader international community to take all necessary action to restore security and civil and constitutional order in Afghanistan, including by re-initiating talks for national reconciliation, meeting urgent humanitarian needs and protecting civil society activists.

GNWP signs the Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action!

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to be a Board Member and signatory to the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA).

The Compact was launched as part of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), which took place in Paris between 30 June and 2 July 2021. The GEF was created to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality. Despite global efforts, such as the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, gender equality progress has been slow, inconsistent, and risks further destabilization from armed conflicts, humanitarian crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other global issues such as climate change and economic injustice. The GEF’s purpose was to rally governments, activists, corporations, and civil rights groups to achieve change through ambitious investments and actionable policies.

What is the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action?

One of the key outcomes of the GEF was the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA). The Compact is an inter-generational global movement that aims to accelerate implementation, strengthen accountability, and mobilize funding for the Women Peace & Security (WPS) agenda and gender equality in Humanitarian Action.

Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Network of Peacebuilders, describes the Compact as:

“An opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get the job done! GNWP will work with all partners to build a vibrant, intersectional, and intergenerational global movement for sustainable peace, gender equality, and feminist humanitarian action, which champions the leadership of local women, young women, adolescent girls, and LGTBQIA+ persons.”

Over the next five years, the Compact will be guided by a framework that provides a clear path for concerted action for Member States, United Nations entities, regional organizations, civil society, private sector actors, and academic institutions. The Compact Framework includes specific actions across five thematic areas:

  • Financing the WPS Agenda and gender equality in humanitarian programming
  • Women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and the inclusion of gender-related provisions in peace processes
  • Women’s economic security, access to resources, and other essential services
  • Women’s leadership and full, equal, and meaningful participation across peace, security, and humanitarian sectors
  • Protecting and promoting women’s human rights in conflict and crisis contexts 

Critically, the Compact Framework must be implemented in synergy with the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, a set of multistakeholder partnerships to catalyze collective action and deliver concrete results for women and girls. A monitoring scheme to assess the implementation of the Framework will be developed by the Compact Board and Catalytic members. The specific actions outlined in the Framework will be mapped against existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

GNWP’s commitment to the Compact

Along with Member States, UN entities, regional organizations, civil society organizations, private sector actors, and academic institutions, GNWP is proud to be a signatory to the Compact. GNWP has committed to 13 actions across four thematic areas of the Framework which will be implemented by:

  • Expanding and reinforcing partnerships with national and local women’s rights organizations to strengthen their capacity and eligibility to receive and manage donor funding, and eliminate barriers to financing for grassroots CSOs;
  • Growing and strengthening partnerships with youth-led and young women-focused organizations and networks to embed their priorities in YPS and WPS advocacy;
  • Providing technical and advisory support to women mediators and women peacebuilders in peace processes including through creating and sustaining systematic links between formal and informal peace processes;
  • Recognizing and engaging men and boys as partners and gender equality allies in addressing and reversing harmful gender norms; and 
  • Promoting the inclusion of gender-related provisions in all ceasefire and peace agreements in humanitarian assistance and delivery.

GNWP recognizes that effective implementation of the Compact Framework is contingent on the leadership, ownership, and participation of women and young women peacebuilders from conflict and crisis-affected communities. In the lead-up to the Paris Forum, GNWP convened 130 participants from over 35 countries in a Civil Society Briefing on 25 June 2021, to raise awareness of the Compact and its framework, and solicit support from national and local women’s civil society organizations and youth organizations for its implementation.

GNWP encourages women’s civil society organizations and youth groups, particularly from conflict and crisis-affected communities, to review the Compact Framework and register as Signatories.

Rwandan government and civil society discuss the use of CEDAW to advance women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and recovery

15 June 2021

By Emem Bassey, Peacebuilding Program Intern for Africa, GNWP

“To implement something well, you have to monitor it. Monitoring helps see the gaps. Reporting on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) gives us an opportunity to reflect on the gaps in the implementation of Women, Peace and Security resolutions” –Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos, Director of Programs, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

GNWP in partnership with ISOKO Partners and Benimpuhwe, civil society organizations working in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, organized a workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and its supporting resolutions from 31 March to 1 April 2021. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Rwandan Government, civil society, and UN entities, focused on the use of CEDAW as a complementary reporting mechanism on the implementation of the WPS resolutions. It was organized in relation to Rwanda’s report to CEDAW wherein both the Government and civil society will submit reports. The organizing of the workshop was supported by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.  

Importance of assessment of WPS resolutions’ implementation and reporting

The workshop enabled the government and civil society participants to assess the progress in the implementation of the WPS resolutions and the remaining gaps. They also identified concrete recommendations for more effective implementation of the WPS resolutions and the National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS. Specific to civil society participants, it was an opportunity to review the draft report prepared by the government and provide their comments.

The workshop allowed participants to discuss many topics including the ways women are affected by conflicts and refugee crises; women’s roles as actors for peace; the need for women to be present in security sector institutions; the meaningful participation of women in local decision-making and conflict resolution structures; and, the need to support women both as voters and candidates in national and local elections. Importantly, the participants discussed the progress and the persistent challenges in the implementation of the WPS agenda, which should be reflected in the upcoming CEDAW report.

Analyzing the progress and gaps in WPS resolutions’ implementation

The topics discussed during the workshops were far-reaching and covered a multitude of areas. Some of the highlights of the discussions are the following: 

  • Identifying important advances to the implementation of the WPS agenda. Advances included the establishment of the national machinery for the advancement of women, the mainstreaming of gender equality across government policies and development frameworks –  including the country’s “Vision 2050” strategy, and the introduction of a quota for women’s participation in District Councils and the Executive Council in the city of Kigali.
  • The prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) and lack of access to services for GBV victims and survivors. Rates of violence remain high despite the measures put in place by the government – such as the Gender Accountability Days (GAD), a series of activities held at the district level to raise awareness, enhance accountability for gender equality, and prevention and response to GBV. The participants emphasized that CEDAW implementation and the effective use of the media and communication channels are critical instruments to address GBV.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on WPS agenda implementation in the country, and the need to ensure that the COVID-19 recovery be gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive. The pandemic has revealed the widened gaps in social systems, and their disproportionate impact on women and girls. Across Africa, lockdown measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus have left many women with no escape from abusive partners. As a result, the cases of domestic violence and GBV increased in Rwanda during the pandemic. The participants concluded that the pandemic underscored the urgent need for full and effective implementation of the WPS agenda, to ensure that women’s rights are protected and that they participate in advocacy and lead the search for solutions.
  • The importance of involving young women and men in conversations about WPS implementation and GBV prevention. The participants recommended that gender studies be included in school curricula, in order for children to grow up with the understanding of gender equality. They also emphasized the importance of localizing the WPS agenda (see #Localization1325), to raise local government’s awareness of this international law, and ensure they can effectively contribute to its implementation and eradication of GBV. They identified concrete strategies – such as town hall meetings and dissemination of leaflets – to ensure that community members, including women and young women, are aware of the government’s COVID-19 responses including the economic packages available to them.

Crisis and Risk Communications Training

The workshop on the synergies between CEDAW and the WPS resolutions was followed by a training focusing on the importance of communication during conflicts and crises, such as a pandemic. The training was organized by GNWP, in partnership with the Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and was attended by women and gender equality activists from across Rwanda, who have been first-responders to the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the findings of the workshop on the CEDAW and WPS synergies, the workshop created a space for women from civil society to develop an advocacy and communications strategy that calls for a gender-specific and conflict-sensitive COVID-19 response and recovery.

During this second day of the workshop, participants identified advocacy messages around COVID-19 response and recovery and designed strategies to distribute messaging. As a follow-up to the workshop, GNWP and RWN will transform these messages into information, education and communications materials, which will be widely disseminated, and will complement civil society’s efforts to advance the implementation of WPS resolutions through CEDAW reporting and implementation.

The two workshops provided a rich space for discussion and resulted in concrete recommendations. GNWP and its civil society partners look forward to seeing them reflected in Rwanda’s State Party report and disseminated through information, education and communications materials. Stay tuned!

Background to GNWP’s work: UNSCR 1325 and the Rwandan Genocide

In Rwanda, the UNSCR 1325 was profoundly important, as it was adopted during Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 genocide. During the genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to a mass scale of sexual violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe. Although the exact number of women who were raped will never be known, testimonies from survivors confirm that rape and other forms of sexual violence – including sexual slavery – were a widespread practice. Such practices contributed to the genocide having a devastating impact on Rwandan women.

Despite Rwandan women being greatly impacted by the genocide, women have been leaders in reconstructing the country. Even before the adoption of the UNSCR 1325 in 2000, Rwandan women have played a central role in maintaining peace and security in their communities, country and region. Women mobilized to take care of the orphans and non-accompanied children left in their communities after the genocide. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 children were fostered or adopted by families and women-headed households.

Rwandan women worked together to rebuild solidarity and mutual understanding as a first step towards national reconciliation. For example, the Forum of Rwandese women leaders and Unity Club were formed, bringing together influential women from Rwanda to promote the message of reconciliation in communities, and foster cooperation among women parliamentarians from different backgrounds. Today, women make up 61.25 percent of Rwanda’s parliament, making it the country with the highest proportion of women in the national legislature.

Recognizing the important roles of women in peacebuilding resulted in Rwanda adopting its first three-year National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 in 2009. The second generation of the NAP, adopted in 2018 for the period 2018-2022, commits Rwanda to continue its efforts to implement the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and other WPS resolutions: Protection, Prevention, Participation and Relief and Recovery. Effective monitoring of UNSCR 1325 implementation will be essential to ensuring meaningful participation, respect and protection of women’s rights.