The brief presents documented achievements and challenges in the effective implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas and gender-responsive humanitarian action within countries of ASEAN. It also outlines recommendations for a stronger, harmonized implementation of the policies, and encourages the meaningful participation of women and young women in peace, security and humanitarian response in Southeast Asia.
During the launch, Ms. Nina Kondracki, Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at Canada’s Mission to ASEAN, underscored: “This strong collaboration bodes very well for the implementation of the Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security, advancing the policy dialogue on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, and exploring the important linkages between both in the ASEAN region, especially in the context of humanitarian action.”
Representatives of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and UN Women Indonesia presented the ASEAN’s RPA WPS, adopted in December 2022. Additionally, members of GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) networks in Myanmar and the Philippines presented existing youth-led peacebuilding efforts in the region.
“The implementation of both Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security in Southeast Asia is crucial, as ongoing conflict and crises remain. ASEAN Member States have an opportunity, with the Regional Plan of Action on WPS and growing attention for the concerns of young people, to expand their approach, break down bureaucratic silos and ensure substantive collaboration with civil society.”
– Ms. Cynth Nietes, Young Women+ Leaders for Peace – Philippines
“Looking ahead, the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation looks forward to organizing regular WPS training, and utilizing our pool of experts, such as the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry. Future efforts include a mapping of actors, specifically women peacebuilders at the local level, and a mapping of the existing peace infrastructure at the national and local levels from a gender perspective.”
– Ms. Kartika Wijayanti, Project Management Officer, ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
GNWP looks forward to moving recommendations of this policy brief from words to action as it continues to meaningfully engage with ASEAN on the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security agendas, and gender-sensitive humanitarian action.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
When reflecting on time spent with the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) in Lebanon, there is one word that prevails in its lack and its growth: hope. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) has been working with youth peacebuilders in Lebanon since 2021. When we first began meeting with youth leaders, GNWP asked what gives them hope. At first, many of them struggled to find an answer. The recent years in Lebanon have not been easy. Since 2019, the country has been coping with a crippling economic crisis. The Lebanese lira has lost over 90 percent of its value; many essential goods and services remain out of reach for the general population; and, the World Bank has referred to the situation as one of the worst economic collapses in global history. Then, in August 2020, Lebanon was rocked by the explosion at the Port of Beirut—a catastrophe that killed more than 200 people. According to a 2022 UNICEF survey, the situation in Lebanon has led to one in four youth suffering from mental health challenges, three in ten youth expecting life to get worse and around 40 percent seeing life abroad as their only option for a better future. Yet, despite the deteriorating circumstances, in collaboration with GNWP, the Permanent Peace Movement (PPM), and support from Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP), members of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace chapter in Lebanon are endeavoring to build sustainable peace at the local, national and regional levels.
The YWL network in Lebanon was first launched by GNWP and PPM, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) in 2021. In 2022, GNWP and PPM, and with support of PSOP, hosted several workshops with the YWL members to enhance their capacities as youth peacebuilders, increase their knowledge on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policies, and strategize on pathways for advocacy on the implementation of the YPS resolutions locally. In December 2022, the YWL sessions convened diverse youth from across the country and the region—including Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian refugees and members of the LGBTQIA+ community—and provided a space for learning, collaborating and sharing experiences.
During the workshop, one young woman spoke about her efforts working with religious leaders and pharmacists in Baalbek to destigmatize menstruation and sexual health. After meeting with local religious leaders to gain their support, she met with local pharmacists to change the practice of putting period products in black plastic bags. She emphasized that menstruation is a natural part of life and should not be something that is ostracizing to women or has to be hidden. As a result of her advocacy, pharmacies in Baalbek have begun putting period products in the same bags as other items—a step towards challenging social stigmas and social norms.
Following their activism and involvement with the YWL, two members of the chapter were invited by the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sports to represent the country at an official consultation for the Arab League’s forthcoming Regional Strategy on Youth, Peace and Security. Christelle Aziz, one of the YWL members, shared that as drafting of the strategy continues, between now and the launch “we want to advocate and ensure that there is an open channel between the YWL in Lebanon and the Arab League and their partners to listen to our feedback in all the steps.”
“Our involvement in this process has resulted in the YWL working together to pursue joint efforts to ensure continuous youth involvement in the regional strategy and concrete ways to promote YPS advocacy at the regional and local levels.”–Zulfiqar Naser Al Deen, YWL member in Lebanon and GNWP Associate for Lebanon Peacebuilding Programs
Among the joint efforts considered, the YWL identified the creation of a youth council at the Arab League to represent the genuine interests of local peacebuilders, forming strategic partnerships with local government actors and utilizing media for advocacy. One participant remarked: “Learning about these global and regional opportunities and the YWL involvement at the Arab League has made me want to be involved too and find a way to work on this in Lebanon.” The YWL, with support and guidance from GNWP and its local partner PPM, is now leading a clear advocacy and social media strategy for the sustained inclusion and leadership of youth in formulating the regional strategy and implementing the YPS resolutions across Lebanon.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
 The Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program is a network initiated by GNWP that focuses on building the capacities and leadership skills of young women and gender equality allies in conflict-affected communities. More details can be found here: https://gnwp.org/what-we-do/young-women-leaders-for-peace-program/
* Alonna Despain is a Program Officer for Middle East and North Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).
** Shawna Crystal is the Resource Mobilization and Communications Specialist at GNWP.
The winds of change are blowing in Colombia. Despite the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and slow progress in the implementation of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), there is a renewed glimmer of hope across the country. As of 7 August 2022, the newly elected government announced its commitment to adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy and a National Action Plan (NAP) on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. What remains to be seen is whether actions will match the rhetoric, as Colombia still faces several challenges threatening peacebuilding processes. However, it cannot be denied that this progress is a direct result of feminists’ yearning and years of tireless advocacy for more inclusive and intersectional policies. One of the key actors leading these efforts is Alianza 1325 (Alliance 1325), a group of feminist civil society organizations. Through their advocacy, they work to ensure that all voices — including those of young women — are meaningfully involved in the regional dialogues to realize an inclusive and participatory design of the NAP on WPS. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is proud to be a long-time supporter of our feminist allies in Colombia to ensure that women and youth are at the front and center of policy advocacy and NAP development.
Despite the progress, drug production and trafficking continue to be the primary fuels of the conflict, disproportionately affecting indigenous and rural communities. Weak protection mechanisms and lack of governmental presence in these areas are among the key obstacles to achieving “total peace,” as promised by President Gustavo Petro. In this sense, one of the key recommendations presented by the Truth Commission in June 2022 is the need to adopt a human security approach. The human security approach is a United Nations framework that focuses on preventing risks and pursuing comprehensive solutions. It is centered on people and the contexts in which they live based on respect for the protection of life and the principle of human dignity. Human security integrates the agendas of peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights. GNWP’s work in implementing the WPS and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda is founded on the human security framework. GNWP’s advocacy highlights the agency and leadership of local women and youth peacebuilders.
“We need a change, we want dialogue, we want peace,” stressed Lucy, a participant in the Young Women+ Leaders For Peace (YW+L) workshop held in Popayán, Cauca, on 25-26 August 2022. GNWP facilitated the training on women’s rights, leadership and peacebuilding in partnership with Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM), and with the support of Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). 20 participants, including 18 young women and two gender equality allies from the departments of Cauca and Tolima, shared their priorities and voiced concerns about the increasing threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the worrying rates of child recruitment by non-State armed groups.
The YW+L workshop enhanced young women and gender equality allies’ leadership and peacebuilding skills. Participants collectively designed and led initiatives to address the root causes of violence in their communities. These young leaders use various artistic and creative methods to convey a strong and inclusive message of peace — a powerful strategy that GNWP promotes through its Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) Read, Lead and Build. For example, in Cauca, young women organized social media campaigns with audio-visual materials to raise awareness about gender-based violence around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November. Meanwhile, in Tolima, young women used community theater to promote gender equality and peace. On 12 November, they performed at the Festival Internacional Mujeres En La Escena (FIME) in Ibagué, Tolima, exposing the different types of abuses suffered by young women and demanding justice for all those whose voices continue to be silenced. As Lorena, one of the performers, stated, “if women are not the ones raising their voices, they are forgotten.”
Colombia still has many challenges, but we are grateful that women and young people are paving the way to peace.
GNWP thanks Global Affairs Canada Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for their continued support.
* Cecilia Lazara is the Regional Focal Point for Latin America at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.
 Alliance 1325: Women, Peace and Security is composed of feminist civil society organizations working rigorously in a participatory advocacy process to formulate the WPS NAP.
 Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) is the former name of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders’ (GNWP) Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program.
GNWP Reporta desde Cauca y Tolima, Colombia
En Colombia soplan vientos de cambio. A pesar del impacto causado por la pandemia del COVID-19, sumado al lento progreso en la implementación del acuerdo de paz entre el gobierno colombiano y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), en todo el país se percibe un rayo renovado de esperanza. El 7 de agosto de 2022, el nuevo gobierno electo anunció su compromiso para adoptar una Política Exterior Feminista y un Plan Nacional de Acción (PNA) sobre la agenda Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad (MPS). Lo que queda por ver es si estas acciones estarán a la altura de la retórica, ya que Colombia continúa enfrentándose a varios retos que amenazan sus procesos de construcción de paz. Sin embargo, no se puede negar que este progreso es un resultado directo del anhelo feminista y años de incidencia buscando políticas inclusivas e interseccionales. Uno de los actores clave que lidera estos esfuerzos es la Alianza 1325, un grupo de organizaciones feministas de la sociedad civil. A través de su incidencia, trabajan para garantizar que todas las voces – incluidas las de las mujeres jóvenes – participen de manera significativa en los diálogos regionales con el objetivo que el diseño participativo del PNA sobre MPS. La Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP, por sus siglas en inglés) se enorgullece de apoyar desde hace mucho tiempo a nuestras aliadas feministas en Colombia para asegurar que las mujeres y la juventud estén al frente en la incidencia de políticas y el desarrollo del PNA.
Dichos anuncios representan un claro guiño al anhelo feminista, tras años de luchas incansables por políticas más inclusivas e interseccionales. Lo que queda por ver es si estas acciones estarán a la altura de la retórica, ya que Colombia continúa enfrentándose a varios retos que amenazan sus procesos de construcción de paz.
La producción y el tráfico de drogas siguen siendo los principales combustibles del conflicto, afectando de manera desproporcionada a las comunidades indígenas y rurales. Mecanismos de protección débiles e ineficientes, así como la falta de presencia del Estado en dichas zonas, son señalados como algunos de los principales obstáculos para alcanzar la “paz total”, tal y como prometió el presidente Gustavo Petro. En ese sentido, una de las principales recomendaciones presentadas por la Comisión de la Verdad en junio de 2022 es la necesidad de adoptar un enfoque de seguridad humana. El enfoque de seguridad humana es un marco de las Naciones Unidas orientado a la prevención de riesgos y a la búsqueda de soluciones integrales. Se centra en las personas y en los contextos en los que viven sobre la base del respeto de protección a la vida y el principio de dignidad humana. La seguridad humana integra las agendas de paz y seguridad, desarrollo sostenible y derechos humanos. El trabajo de GNWP en la implementación de la agenda de MPS y Juventud, Paz y Seguridad (JPS) se basa sobre este marco de seguridad humana. Precisamente, siguiendo estos principios, GNWP busca visiblizar la capacidad de acción y el liderazgo de las mujeres así como las y los jóvenes constructores de paz locales.
“Necesitamos un cambio, queremos el diálogo, queremos la paz”, instó Lucy, una participante del taller de Mujeres Jóvenes+ Líderes por la Paz (MJL+) celebrado en Popayán, Cauca entre el 25 y 26 de agosto de 2022. GNWP facilitó la capacitación sobre derechos de las mujeres, liderazgo y construcción de paz en alianza con la Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) y con el apoyo del Programa de Operaciones de Estabilización y Paz de Asuntos Globales de Canadá (PSOP). 20 participantes, incluidas 18 mujeres jóvenes y dos aliados por la igualdad de género de los departamentos de Cauca y Tolima, compartieron sus prioridades y entre otro temas expresaron su preocupación por las crecientes amenazas y ataques contra las y los defensores de derechos humanos así como por las cifras alarmentes sobre el reclutamiento de niñas y niños por parte de grupos armados no estatales.
El taller MJL+ ayudó a mejorar las habilidades de liderazgo y construcción de paz de las mujeres jóvenes y aliados por la igualdad de género. Las y los participantes diseñaron y dirigieron colectivamente iniciativas para abordar las causas fundamentales de la violencia en sus comunidades. Utilizaron métodos artísticos y creativos para transmitir un mensaje de paz fuerte e inclusivo. Cabe destacar, que esta estrategia es activamente promovida a través del manual ‘Leer, liderar y Construir’ diseñado por GNWP en el marco del programa Niñas Embajadoras para la Paz (GA4P). Por ejemplo, en el Cauca, las jóvenes organizaron campañas en las redes sociales con materiales audiovisuales para sensibilizar sobre la violencia basada en género en torno al Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer, el 25 de noviembre. Mientras tanto, en Tolima, las jóvenes utilizaron el teatro comunitario para promover la igualdad de género y la paz. El 12 de noviembre, se presentaron en el Festival Internacional Mujeres En La Escena (FIME) de Ibagué, Tolima, exponiendo los diferentes tipos de abusos que sufren las jóvenes y exigiendo justicia para todas aquellas cuyas voces siguen siendo silenciadas. Siguiendo las palabras de Lorena, una de las intérpretes, “si las mujeres no son las que alzan la voz, quedán en el olvido”.
En Colombia siguen habiendo muchos retos, pero estamos agradecidas de que sean las mujeres y los grupos de jóvenes quienes estén allanando el camino hacia la paz.
GNWP agradece al Programa de Operaciones de Estabilización y Paz de Asuntos Globales de Canadá por su apoyo continuo.
 La Alianza 1325: Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad está conformada por organizaciones feministas de la sociedad civil que trabajan rigurosamente en un proceso participativo para la formulación del PNA.
 Niñas Embajadoras para la Paz (GA4P) es el antiguo nombre del programa Mujeres Jóvenes Líderes para la Paz (MJL) de la Red Global de Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (GNWP).
Rwanda is often remembered internationally for the genocide perpetrated on its territory in 1994. However, increasingly the country has been recognized within the African continent and the wider international community for a different reason: Rwanda has taken great lengths to address gender inequality and has recognized the need for women’s equal participation in decision-making to heal and rebuild their communities.
The Constitution of Rwanda sets gender equality as one of its pillars, and it established a 30 per cent quota for the number of women in parliament. As of October 2020, UN Women reported that Rwandan women occupy 61 per cent of the parliamentary seats, leading global figures for women’s participation in any country’s parliament. Along with governmental action, civil society groups have galvanized significant progress towards gender equality.
To support Rwandan gender equality efforts, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), ISOKO Partners for Peace and Gender Equality, Benimpuhwe, and Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), launched the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Rwanda with a series of workshops and a virtual forum. The workshops in Kigali convened government officials and youth from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda from 9-11 September 2021. The workshops inaugurated the newest and tenth chapter of GNWP’s YWL network globally. The virtual forum, which took place from 8-10 January 2022, followed up on discussions from the launch activities while also encouraging government officials from the three countries to reaffirm their commitments toward gender equality and the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) in the Great Lakes Region region.
The Young Women+ Leaders program helps young women and gender equality allies gain the skills and confidence to become leaders in their communities. It raises awareness of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security agendas and enhances women and youth peacebuilding capacities to effectively advocate for the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas at local, regional, national, and international levels.
Advancing regional peace and security priorities
The workshops in Kigali were an opportunity for 28participants from Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda to share their stories about advocating for the WPS and YPS agendas in the Great Lakes Region and increase their capacities as advocates. The participants discussed leadership skills, COVID-19 response, effective global advocacy campaigns.
“I am proud to be a young man in peacebuilding because I can lend my voice to young women and support gender equality through my commitments to peace.” – Young Women+ Leaders for Peace member from Rwanda
The session on gender equality facilitated by RWAMREC emphasized the importance of recognizing that gender equality is not only a women’s issue. It challenged people of all genders to engage with and advocate for the fight for gender equality in the Great Lakes Region. Questions such as “what makes you proud to be a man/woman?” or “what does not make you proud to be a man/woman?” were posed to the attendees. Members of the newly-formed Young Women+ Leaders for Peace network were encouraged to recognize and reflect on the ways that women and men can work together to fight for and achieve gender equality in the region.
Renewing commitments for gender equality
“Everyone can contribute [to the effective implementation of the policies.] We cannot reach the goals alone but together by joining efforts, we can.” -Concluding observation by break out group examining the Participation pillar of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security
The January 2022 virtual forum saw over 30 participants from government and civil society come together to share their progress and reaffirm their commitment to gender equality in the Great Lakes Region. In the sessions, YWL members discussed their accomplishments since the official launch of the network and how they envision a gender-equitable and youth-inclusive future in the region.
YW+L members had the opportunity to hear about the work on WPS, YPS and gender equality in DRC from both civil society and government representatives. The newly-formed Congolese Coalition for YPS, which officially launched on 9 December 2021, shared its experiences on building a coalition and promoting youth inclusion in peacebuilding. The National Technical Secretariat for UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (STN-2250) also shared their ongoing work in the DRC on the development of the National Action Plan (NAP) on YPS.
Throughout the sessions, YWL members were able to share perspectives and recommendations about how young people can be included at all levels of peacebuilding. Some of their key recommendations were allocating core funding for youth organizations, raising youth awareness of the YPS resolutions, implementing intersectional approaches to peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region, and holding governments and key stakeholders accountable for the full implementation of the YPS resolutions.
The workshops and virtual forum on the WPS and YPS resolutions in the Great Lakes Region were organized with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
By Michaela Zelenanska, Peacebuilding Programs Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, GNWP
“To me, peace means being able to move freely, cross the border you see behind me. But I cannot do it.” –Georgian participant talking about what peace and security means to them.
“Peace means stability, access to economic opportunities. In the villages along the Administrative Border Line people do not have access to jobs. Living here means being stressed all the time.” – Georgian participant talking about living along the Administrative Border Line separating Georgia from the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
The quotes above are how young women from Georgia describe peace in their country. Economic opportunities, mental health, wellbeing, and mobility are the key attributes missing from their lives. They still feel the impacts of war – which officially ended in 2008, when many of them were still young children. They are determined, and ready to work towards sustainable peace.
To support young women’s leadership in peacebuilding, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the IDP Women Association ‘’Consent’’, organized an introductory three-day training on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and peacebuilding for young women and men in Georgia. The event took place on April 24-26 2021 and was supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The participants had the opportunity to analyse the relevance of these critical agendas for young people in Georgia and to talk about the importance of youth-led initiatives in building sustainable peace. The training also served as a launch of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) program in Georgia.
GNWP’s Young Women Leaders for Peace Program
Since 2014, the GNWP´s YWL program has supported more than 7,000 young women in conflict-affected countries and communities to enhance their skills, capacities and resilience and fully realize their potential as leaders and agents of peace. The program is being implemented in seven countries outside of Georgia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Ukraine. GNWP has worked with its partners and young women to tailor a methodology to the context and needs of each participating country. They have also supported young women to run their own peacebuilding initiatives – from organizing community peace dialogues, to teaching literacy in refugee camps, to running civic education campaigns via social media.
During the Georgia training event the GNWP team shared the achievements of the young women peacebuilders with the 20 young women and men participants. The participants were excited by the impact of these young women and inspired to join the YWL networks.
The participants shared their perspective on the situation in their country. Many of the young people were directly affected by the long conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia: two regions that have seceded from Georgia and formally declared independence in 1999 and 1991 respectively. Even though the conflict in Georgia is often described as “frozen”, it still has tangible impacts on the lives of Georgian people – including young women and men. Some of the participants were internally displaced or lived in the so-called ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) villages, where skirmishes still happen. Therefore they feel the consequences of the conflict every day.
Throughout the training, the young participants became acquainted with the WPS and YPS agendas. They showed a very good understanding of the effects of conflict and violence on women and young people. Thanks to the engaging “crash course” on peacebuilding, organized by Yago Pasandze, Executive Director of NGO Saunje and youth trainer, the participants were able to discuss and explore specific concepts, such as peace trust recovery, democracy and justice, and their relevance to their own situations. They also directly applied their newly-gained knowledge through interactive exercises.
A crucial part of the training was reflecting on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Georgia. Participants shared personal stories about the impacts of the pandemic on their communities – including increased domestic violence and negative effects on women´s rights, as well the negative effects of the pandemic on education – schools were closed in Georgia during certain periods of the national lockdown that affected access to education.
All the young people who participated in the training emphasized the necessity of achieving a sustainable peace in Georgia. They also highlighted the role of young people in conflict resolution. The participants were primarily from the new generation that does not remember the once peaceful coexistence of Georgians and Abkhazians. Nevertheless, they shared their hope that it would be their generation who would build the bridges between the two sides of the border.
The 3-day training was full of inspiration and motivation. The GNWP team was glad to see the enthusiasm of the participants, and look forward to continuing the implementation of the YWL program in Georgia. Didi madloba!