Category: Young Women Leaders for Peace

Category: Young Women Leaders for Peace

Launching the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security: In Search of Intersectionality and Localization

December 16, 2020 by Queenie Pearl V. Tomaro and Mallika Iyer

In 2014, the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace agreement to bring 40 years of armed conflict to an end and establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The peace agreement made history as the first in the world to have been signed by a woman chief negotiator, Miriam Coronel Ferrer. The recent adoption of a Regional Action Plan (RAP) on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) for the BARMM is yet another step towards achieving sustainable peace and gender equality in a region heavily impacted by armed conflict, violent extremism, rido (clan warfare), and natural disasters. The RAP is a tremendous success, not just for the Bangsamoro Transition Government but for the women and girls of the BARMM.

In a region considered to be a hotbed for armed conflict and violent extremism conducive to terrorism with a significant number of internally displaced persons, it is of utmost importance that women, young women, and girls, who are often disproportionately impacted, are protected. Equally important is the recognition that women and young peoples’ needs and experiences are unique as the impacts of recurring armed conflict are varied across age and gender differentiation. In order to ensure that conflict resolution strategies respond to their needs, women must meaningfully participate in decision-making at all levels on peace and security.

These recognized realities underscore the importance of the BARMM’s RAP on WPS, which is primarily crafted to ensure that “women and young people’s needs during emergencies are taken into consideration”. Mirroring the Philippine government’s National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the four pillars of the RAP are as follows: Protection and Prevention, Empowerment and Participation, Promotion and Mainstreaming, and lastly, Monitoring and Evaluation.

The RAP calls for an investment in women’s rights and sustainable, inclusive peacebuilding in partnership with women’s civil society and gender equality allies across the region. In line with the gender-sensitive provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the RAP commits to increase women’s meaningful participation in the transition to the BARMM and the implementation of the peace agreement. It also commits to mainstream WPS commitments into the Bangsamoro Development Plan.

Grassroots women peacebuilders are expected to lead and be included in local Peace and Order Councils in conflict-affected communities. It is now time to translate these commitments into action, and employing an intersectional lens is crucial. In particular, the RAP draws attention to the intersectionality between WPS and humanitarian action, a nexus that is garnering growing attention amongst the global policymaking community following the recommendations of the Grand Bargain. The RAP includes specific provisions on ensuring gender-sensitive humanitarian emergency response for displaced women and girls and direct humanitarian aid to local women’s rights organizations. With a little under 15,000 people displaced due to the armed conflict, these provisions could not be more in line with the urgent, intersecting needs of women, young women, and girls in the region.

To avoid the pitfalls of the first RAP of the now-defunct Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) adopted in 2017, the BARMM’s RAP emphasizes the need for localization. Localizing the RAP will entail integrating its provisions into Municipal Gender and Development (GAD) Codes and developing Provincial Action Plans (or Local Action Plans as they are more commonly known). To truly bridge commitments, priorities, and resources into efforts to build peace and promote gender equality in communities affected by conflict, the RAP must be localized and owned by key stakeholders. Unless reflected in local action plans and GAD codes, the RAP will simply become a check-the-box exercise.

For effective localization, the RAP outlines provisions to “ensure and sustain awareness, understanding, and appreciation of duty-bearers on WPS”. Specifically, the RAP commits to capacitate local actors by providing awareness-raising training on WPS and gender-responsive budgeting in communities. This is vital to cultivate ownership and support for the effective implementation of the WPS resolutions amongst key stakeholders including BARMM agencies, its local governments, traditional, and religious structures (with due consideration to varying rigidity of gender norms across the region). For example, the RAP requires the orientation of traditional local mechanisms such as the Sultanates and Council of Elders on WPS and women’s rights. A lack of understanding of the gendered impacts of armed conflict will perpetuate structural gender inequalities and women’s exclusion from political decision-making.

Without adequate, dedicated, reliable, and sustainable funding, an effective, fully implemented, and localized RAP is unlikely. As highlighted by a study conducted by Inclusive Security, the potential challenges for localization  are the  lack of capacity, knowledge, and financial resources. Hence, gender-responsive budgeting for the RAP and corresponding Provincial Action Plans is crucial. It remains to be seen how budgets for GAD Codes will be utilized to implement provisions of the RAP.

While the RAP makes strides in addressing key challenges to gender equality and sustainable peace in the BARMM, it fails to refer to disarmament and non-proliferation. This omission follows a similar trend of 70% NAPs on UNSCR 1325 across the world which lack language on disarmament. As an agenda for the prevention of conflict, the Women, Peace, and Security resolutions cannot be implemented in isolation to UNSCR 2117 on Small Arms and Light Weapons. These two resolutions are interlinked over their concern with the gendered impacts of violence caused by small arms. However, policy forums on disarmament remain to be men-dominated, with only 30% participation of women. In the Philippines, women must meaningfully participate in disarmament, decommissioning, demobilization, and reintegration processes. The specific needs of former women combatants must also be prioritized. Disarmament is an important element of sustainable peace. Since peace is only sustainable if women are involved, disarmament and WPS should not be viewed in separate lenses. Hence, effective implementation of the RAP will require the recognition of women as equal partners in a gender-responsive disarmament processes.

Regarding missing elements in the RAP, is the important acknowledgement that climate change and armed conflict are closely interlinked. The Philippines is prone to natural disasters, including floods and typhoons, which exacerbate armed conflict, forced displacement, and insecurity for women and girls. Climate change has gendered impacts which cannot be analyzed in isolation from women’s experiences in conflict. The intersections of climate change and armed conflict result in compounding, multi-dimensional challenges for the achievement of gender equality and sustainable peace. By employing an intersectional approach to implementation of the RAP, the BARMM will be able to better respond to the needs of women, young women, and girls in the region.

In conclusion, it is important to reflect on the question: “For whom is the RAP on WPS?”. If it truly is for the women, young women, and girls in the BARMM, then they must lead implementation of the RAP in partnership with the government, traditional and religious leaders, and gender equality allies. Localization efforts must be taken seriously, resulting in corresponding Provincial Action Plans as well as greater awareness and ownership amongst key stakeholders. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes, which are vital to sustainable peace in the BARMM, must meaningfully engage women and respond to their specific needs. Additionally, the gendered impacts of climate change as they intersect with and fuel armed conflict should be adequately addressed. Employing an intersectional, localized approach to implementation of the RAP will lead to more comprehensive efforts to improve all aspects of women, young women, and girls’ lives in conflict affected communities in the BARMM.

Preserving Peace in the Pandemic: Young Women Leaders and Gender Equality Allies Mobilize in the Philippines

December 14, 2020 by Mallika Iyer and Heela Yoon

“We want peace! We’re ready to work for it!” – declared members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) in the Philippines during an online capacity-building training organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from Channel Foundation in August 2020. YWL in the Philippines is a network of young women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth, and gender equality allies. Since its establishment in February 2018, the network has mobilized to build and sustain peace in the Philippines, and prevent further outbreaks of conflict in their communities. The virtual training was organized to support their work towards sustainable and inclusive peace, by enhancing their knowledge and 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). Between August 26-28, the youth leaders analyzed challenges and opportunities to accelerate the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions in the Philippines.

YWL members believe that the implementation of these resolutions is necessary to ensure that the hard-won peace is not lost. On March 27th, 2014, people across the country rejoiced as the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a historic peace agreement, which brought 40 years of armed conflict to an end. The Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro is celebrated internationally for its gender-sensitive provisions and inclusive drafting process spearheaded by the world’s first woman chief negotiator. One of the key provisions of the peace agreement was the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Six years after the signing of the agreement, the region is gradually transitioning from rebellion to governance. The provisions of the peace agreement were enshrined into the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and ratified in February 2019 through plebiscites, which institutionalized the establishment of the BARMM. Additionally, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) approved a transition plan and passed codes creating Bangsamoro Commissions on Youth, Women, and Human Rights. The parliament, for which an administrative code is being deliberated, is scheduled to begin regular sessions in 2022. To ensure a peaceful transition to the BARMM, it is critical to protect these achievements as well as build local ownership and support for the effective implementation of the peace agreement.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant delays in the development of government structures and processes, including the electoral code for the region, which is crucial for the effective implementation of the peace agreement. While Members of Parliament struggled to meet over Zoom, violent extremist groups wasted no time in sowing insecurity. In April, a clash between the Abu Sayaff Group, a well-known violent extremist group that operates in the BARMM, and the Armed Forces of the Patikul, Sulu resulted in the death of 11 soldiers. Shortly after, two soldiers were reportedly killed in an attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at a COVID-19 lockdown checkpoint. Violence perpetrated by extremist groups and clan feuds jeopardizes the building of peaceful institutions in the BARMM and the implementation of the peace agreement.  

I have heard kids say that they want to join Abu Sayaff when they grow up. We need to counter violent narratives promoted by extremist groups. Instead, we need to build support for peace in the BARMM,” a young woman from Sulu shared. Violent extremist groups have exploited the limited collective understanding of the BOL, and have utilized the resulting misinformation and disinformation to radicalize and recruit in conflict-affected areas. In response, during the virtual training organized by GNWP, the young women leaders and gender equality allies designed community peacebuilding dialogues and social media campaigns, which will raise awareness and build ownership of the BOL, particularly including its gender-responsive provisions. Keynote speakers, Ana Tarhata Basman and Maisara Damdamun-Latiph, who are both Members of Parliament of the BTA, highlighted the critical importance of the participation of young women in political decision-making to ensure a sustainable and inclusive transition to peaceful governance. They highlighted that the BTA currently does not have enough women members to meet the required 30% participation quota stipulated under the BOL. In preparation for the upcoming elections in the BARMM in 2022, YWL members committed to leading advocacy campaigns to encourage and inspire their peers to join political parties and work for the BTA. “We don’t have a lot of time before 2022. We all need to work together to actualize this peaceful transition. There is too much at stake if we fail,” emphasized Ana Tarhata Basman.

As part of the August 2020 training, the YWL members also enhanced their capacities to advocate for a human-rights based peace process between the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the Philippine government. The conflict between the CPP-NPA-NDF and the government has devastated rural areas across the country and has resulted in large-scale internal displacement, loss of lives, damage to property, and widespread insecurity. It has also led to the implementation of martial law and multiple grave human rights violations. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated insecurity experienced by communities as a result of the conflict. Although the warring parties were quick to declare ceasefires in March 2020, the failure to uphold them ultimately worsened prospects of peace negotiations, increased the incidence of violent clashes, and disrupted the delivery of essential relief goods to women and youth peacebuilders on the frontlines of the pandemic.

We need to dispel the perception that peacebuilding and negotiations aren’t going anywhere. Militarized responses to the pandemic and armed conflict shouldn’t be the only action the government takes. We need to spread hope, advocate for change, and meet the immediate needs of vulnerable groups,” Bianca Pabotoy, a young woman from Buhol, stressed. During the online training, the young women leaders and gender equality allies designed initiatives to empower and increase opportunities for internally displaced and indigenous young women in conflict-affected communities to protect their rights and participate in peacebuilding. The YWL members in the Philippines emphasized “Peace isn’t just for Mindanao!” Implementing an inclusive peace will help build a better, more equitable future for all Filipinos. The young peacebuilders are working steadily towards building a national movement for sustainable peace and gender equality.

Five Years of Progress: Young Women Reflect on the Achievements of the Youth, Peace & Security Agenda

Happy 5th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250!

Join us by watching: Five Years of Progress: Young Women Reflect on the Achievements of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda

The 5th anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda, following shortly after the 20th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, presents an opportunity for reflection and renewed action in the implementation of the interlinked resolutions. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) hosted a global consultation to create space for young women-led networks and women’s rights organizations to exchange experiences, reflect on their achievements, and identify key opportunities to accelerate the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions. Today, on the anniversary of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, we share with you some of their recommendations and reflections.

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

Launching Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar: An important step in the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security agendas

November 20, 2020

By Mallika Iyer and Heela Yoon

Edited by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

We are not afraid to hold our government accountable. We are ready to mobilize for constitutional reform and military accountability,” expressed a young peacebuilder[1] during the “Training of Trainers” (ToT) on the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace, and Security (YPS) agendas organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Yangon Youth Network, with support from Global Affairs Canada.  

With support from Global Affairs Canada, the ToT was held as a series of workshop sessions, that convened 27 young women leaders, LGBTQIA+ youth, and male gender equality allies from Yangon, Karen, Shan, Kachin, and Rakhine States between September 26 and October 24, 2020. The ToT raised awareness and knowledge about the WPS and YPS agendas among young people in Myanmar. The ToT included sessions on leadership, peacebuilding, electoral participation, economic empowerment, and the use of social media for advocacy. It also served as the official launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) in Myanmar. Coordinated by GNWP, the YWL is an international network of young women and gender equality allies who are advocating for the effective implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas in conflict-affected situations. It also works on the intersection of these agendas with humanitarian action including the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A key advocacy message for the YWL is to ensure local young women’s participation in peace and security processes and in the design and implementation of humanitarian response.   

Prior to the ToT, GNWP facilitated a virtual focus group discussion on September 12, 2020, during which young peacebuilders analyzed peace, security, and gender equality in Myanmar. They discussed barriers to their meaningful participation in peacebuilding and political decision-making; and identified the training and advocacy needed to overcome them. The focus group discussion enabled GNWP and the Yangon Youth Network to contextualize the ToT and ensure that it is tailor-fit to the needs and awareness and knowledge level of the participants.

Reflections on the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas in Myanmar

The implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions in Myanmar has been quite bleak. “It’s not enough to have a woman as the leader of our country. We need women leaders who believe in and work towards gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights,” explained one of the young women participants in the ToT. Women, particularly from historically marginalized ethnic minorities, are significantly underrepresented in political decision-making, constituting only ten percent of the seats in the National Parliament. Despite quotas for women’s participation in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the number of women meaningfully participating in the ongoing Panglong Peace Process has decreased from 21 to 11 percent over the years. Women’s civil society groups have also been largely excluded from participating in the government-run taskforce on WPS and violence against women. As a result, the Union Peace Accord fails to meet the needs of conflict-affected women and girls; nor does it include gender-responsive budgeting for the limited provisions on women’s rights.  Similarly, while youth organizations across the country have an established record of involvement in community organizing and activism, young women and LGBTQIA+ youth have very limited or no opportunities to participate in peacebuilding and political decision-making. The Government of Myanmar does not have a National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 or a roadmap on YPS. Instead, the government adopted the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (NSPAW) and a National Youth Policy, which are yet to be effectively implemented.

According to the young peacebuilders, a key challenge in the achievement of sustainable peace and gender equality is the limited awareness of the relevance and importance of the WPS and YPS resolutions amongst government, women’s rights groups, and youth organizations in Myanmar. “We need a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. It would define our priorities on peace and security in Myanmar,” a participant shared. “We could use the NAP to hold our government accountable for gender equality and human rights.” During the training, they committed to advocating for the adoption of a NAP through an inclusive drafting process. 

Full and effective implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions has never been more urgent. There are reports of continued conflict-related sexual violence amongst other human rights violations inflicted on the Rohingya despite the request for provisional measures by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requiring Myanmar to prevent its military from committing acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide. The request for provisional measures was made a result of the ongoing case filed by the Government of the Gambia concerning violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the Government of Myanmar.

During the ToT, the participants discussed the perception of the Rohingya community in Myanmar. One of the Rohingya participants said, “Intruder. Kalar[2]. Dirty. Illegal. Too many kids and wives. Immigrant. Cockroach. Ugly. Sharp nose. We, Rohingya, have been called many names except our own. Many people in Myanmar are allergic to our name.” The ToT participants also discussed the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence against other ethnic groups in the Kachin, Northern Shan, and Karen states. Human rights violations, particularly against ethnic groups, continue to occur even as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar accused the Burmese military of using the COVID-19 pandemic as “a cover to commit war crimes”.

Due to state repression against groups and individuals advocating for an end to the atrocities against the Rohingya, there is notable silence on this issue inside Myanmar. Thus, perpetrators within the government and military continue to enjoy impunity. Nonetheless, the young women leaders and gender equality allies bravely declared: “We need to respect and recognize the rights of ethnic groups in Myanmar. We are ready to fight for peace now—not later.” The ToT was one of the few discussions about the Rohingya genocide and the ongoing ICJ case amongst young peacebuilders in Myanmar. The members of the Young Women Leaders network highlighted the need for accessible global and regional mechanisms and platforms to condemn and demand accountability from their government for the Rohingya genocide and effective implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions.

The young peacebuilders also identified electoral participation as a key strategy to demand accountability for gender equality, human rights, and sustainable peace from political decision-makers.  But while the Union Election Commission’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy and Action  Plan encourages political parties to increase the membership of women, the actual numbers of women politicians are much lower. “It’s hard to change things if we are not part of the system. If we want more women in peace processes, we need to elect more women politicians. Most political party leaders are currently men.” a participant explained. The ToT participants also shared their perspectives on the barriers to political participation with some young women candidates prior to the national elections on November 8, 2020[3] from the Democratic Party for New Society and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy. A young woman politician described some of the challenges she experienced in campaigning: “I face so many threats, with people monitoring my social media accounts and attacking my gender identity and sexual orientation. I’m thought to have no knowledge or experience. I am sexualized in the media. Men in my constituency try to shame and silence me. I need the support of a sisterhood of young women peacebuilders who believe in me. I am brave. I am dedicated to the cause. That’s why I won’t step down.” During the training, the young peacebuilders developed initiatives to generate support in their communities for politicians who promote gender equality and peace. These include social media campaigns to amplify their messages and counter fake news and mentorship schemes between seasoned and younger politicians in communities.  

Ultimately, the online workshops established a network of Young Women Leaders, supported by gender equality allies and LGBTQIA+ youth, who will meaningfully participate in, influence, and lead community-based peacebuilding, and advocacy for the implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions, human rights, and an immediate cessation of armed conflict and violence. The Young Women Leaders for Peace Myanmar are ready to get to work! The active participation of young women leaders, LGBTQIA youth and gender equality allies in the focus group discussion and the ToT; as well as the establishment of the Young Women Leaders – Myanmar are all indicators of success in advancing the WPS and YPS agendas in this country. They represent a sign of hope in a country where independent civil society voices have been re


[1] Names have been redacted to protect youth peacebuilders.  

[2] “Kalar” is a racist term to describe a person of Indian heritage in Myanmar.

[3] There is still no available gender and age disaggregated data on the full results of the elections on November 8, 2020. GNWP and the Yangon Youth Network are closely monitoring the results as part of our efforts to hold elected officials accountable to laws and policies on human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, gender equality, and peace and security.