Category: Young Women Leaders for Peace

Category: Young Women Leaders for Peace

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a pilot for the Localization of the Youth, Peace and Security strategy: the contribution of the Young Women Leaders in North and South Kivu

14 October 2023 by Simone Mbodé Diouf , Émilie Katondolo  and Esther Atosha 

Edited by Katrina Leclerc 

For over a decade, the Global Network for Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) has successfully implemented its Localization of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions strategy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[1]In North and South Kivu, considerable progress has been made thanks to the collaboration with local partners, including the Synergie des femmes pour les victimes de violences sexuelles (SFVS) and the Synergie des associations féminines du Congo (SAFECO). Building on the achievements of the strategy — which has been cited multiple times as a best practice in the local application of WPS by UN Secretary-General — GNWP and its local partners launched the innovative pilot process for the Localization of Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). The DRC is the second country in Africa to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) on YPS to support and recognize the role of young people in preventing violent extremism and contributing to reconciliation and peacebuilding in their communities.

With financial support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP) of Global Affairs Canada, the GNWP consortium, including ISOKO Partners for Peace and Gender Equality and Youth for Peace DRC, is supporting the chapters of GNWP’s Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL)[2] and the Congolese provincial YPS coalitions to adapt the Localization strategy for the local implementation of the YPS NAP in the provinces of North and South Kivu. The Localization of YPS process aims to popularize the NAP, the UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) and define strategies for developing youth, gender and conflict-sensitive policies at the local level.

Active participation in data collection during the survey phase

Members of the YWL network, in collaboration with provincial YPS coalitions, adopted the approach, which consisted of enabling young people’s leadership in the process, from data collection to the drafting of strategic documents. This approach has made the first pillar of UNSCR 2250 — participation — a reality. In addition, the leadership of young people, particularly young women, also enabled a better analysis and understanding of the unique challenges facing young women and men in the provinces of North and South Kivu.

In North Kivu, the survey results demonstrated that the challenges faced by young women include their exclusion from decision-making bodies, the multiplicity of taxes that hampers their income-generating activities and the lack of initiatives to strengthen young people’s resilience. It also illustrated the failure of protection mechanisms and relief and recovery efforts to take into account the gender-specific needs of young women during complex humanitarian contexts.

Significant input and consideration of young people’s needs in the NAP Localization and strategic advocacy documents

The validation the survey results and development of the advocacy documents for the Localization of the YPS NAP, developed by YWL members and the provincial coalitions, also illustrated the enthusiasm of young women to take a decisive place in the process. Their perspective was reflected in the strategic advocacy documents that outline the priority issues that must be addressed in local development plans and the policies of decentralized entities in the two provinces (to read the advocacy documents in French, please find them here).

Concerning the participation pillar of UNSCR 2250, it was recommended to set up a legislative preparation training center with scholarships for young women political aspirants, as well as to organize awareness campaigns on their political engagement and involvement in community peace and conflict management mechanisms. These examples constitute major achievements of young women leaders who have undoubtedly demonstrated leadership that exemplifies a paradigm shift: young women are no longer forgotten in the Youth, Peace and Security resolutions; they are actors in their own right.

Centering and amplifying the vision and aspirations of young women will ensure that advocacy for the integration of the specific needs of young people will be a success in the provinces of North and South Kivu. This is possible due to their involvement in the effective implementation of the recommendations through Localization of the YPS NAP, enabling the process to be inclusive, gender-sensitive and sustainable.

[1] GNWP’s Localization of WPS resolutions strategy is based on the ownership and contextualization of WPS policies at grassroots level with local actors. For more information, please visit: https://gnwp.org/what-we-do/global-policy-local-action/implementation-through-localization/

[2] YWL is a program initiated by GNWP in over 12 countries to support and ensure youth leadership in the synergistic implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions.

About the authors

Simone Mbodé Diouf

Program Officer for Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

Esther Atosha

Head of the YWL network in South Kivu

Émilie Katondolo

Programs Coordinator at Synergie des femmes pour les victimes de violences sexuelles (SFVS) and the Head of the YWL network in North Kivu

Katrina Leclerc

Program Director at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

Amplifying Youth, Peace and Security in Uganda: GNWP partners with civil society organizations to support youth-led building and sustaining peace initiatives

14 November 2023 by Anne Mugo*

“I cannot mention it all, but I believe continued support for such programs is vital for young people”

In June 2023, residents of Mpondwe town in western Uganda woke up to a gruesome reminder of the impact violent conflicts have on young people. Students from 40 secondary schools were brutally killed in a horrific attack perpetrated by the terrorist-designated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Based in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the ADF’s attacks persist nationwide while recruiting and radicalizing Ugandan youth into violent extremism. Young people in Uganda, who represent 78 per cent of the population, continue to be severely impacted by this sporadic violence. Their situation is worsened by human rights violations, a shrinking civic space, internal conflicts, sexual and gender-based violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related crises. Young women are much more vulnerable to these threats and regularly face discrimination based on their age and gender. Furthermore, they are largely neglected in conflict discourses and formal peace and security initiatives and processes. 

Between March and June 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), partnered with the Coalition for Action on 1325 (CoACT) to bolster the efforts of the Ugandan Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) coalition in amplifying United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250’s recognition of youth in peacebuilding processes. The Ugandan YPS coalition comprises 9 civil society organizations alongside 106 trained peace ambassadors representing the conflict-prone districts of Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo. Currently, Uganda needs a national policy framework to guide concrete government action and the implementation of UNSCR 2250. To sustain advocacy towards developing a YPS National Action Plan (NAP), GNWP and CoACT partnered to build the capacity of coalition members to influence national and local policy processes. Over the course of four months, GNWP conducted workshops engaging the YPS coalition members in dialogues and campaigns to amplify the YPS agenda in local communities. They encouraged efforts towards its institutionalization in local and national development plans.

Knowledge Sharing and Movement Building

On 14 April 2023, nine coalition member organizations convened in a strategic planning workshop to share their experiences and present progress updates on the implementation of their local organizational action plans. Participants drew on lessons learned, embraced best practices and developed new cost-effective peacebuilding initiatives as part of their 2023 projects. Three young women-led organizations, hailing from Aburia, Kaberamaido and Kumi, joined the YPS coalition to elevate young women’s voices and share the multifaceted challenges that young women encounter in conflict-ridden settings and a blueprint to build peace at the local and national levels. During the workshop, member organizations also reported the recruitment of an additional 85 young people, demonstrating their ability to further promote YPS in rural communities. Workshop participants showed increased knowledge in identifying and addressing barriers hindering young Ugandans’ meaningful participation in local and national peacebuilding, crisis response and conflict prevention initiatives. 

Youth-Led Peace Dialogues

Central to GNWP’s Localization of WPS resolutions strategy is the convening of key local stakeholders to discuss and assess local security measures from a gender perspective. In Localization workshops, diverse actors gather to analyze local conflicts and craft Local Action Plans (LAPs) that address these challenges in an inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. The Ugandan YPS coalition organized 6 youth-led intergenerational peacebuilding dialogues with a total of 347 participants, comprising youth council leaders, district youth representatives, civil servant representatives, opinion leaders, security personnel, religious leaders, political leaders and presidential representatives. Participants discussed and exchanged valuable insights on the YPS and WPS agendas. Young women and men peacebuilders led peer-to-peer engagements, built partnerships and amplified their roles in the implementation of existing WPS LAPs in the Kasese and Kyegegwa districts. 

Participants also underscored the synergies between the WPS and YPS agendas and urged authorities to employ gender-sensitive approaches in peace and security initiatives and processes. During the intergenerational dialogues, local authorities and key stakeholders committed to partnering with the coalition members to advance youth’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding. To ensure accountability, several YPS coalition members will regularly monitor the implementation of action plans and commitments in their districts. Participants also exchanged insights about the nexus between climate change, conflict, and peace and security, highlighting how climate change exacerbates the effects of conflicts and emergencies on young people and women. Demonstrating their commitment to environmental preservation and climate change mitigation, participants conducted community clean-ups and embarked on tree-planting initiatives in Amuria, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kampala, Kamwenge, Kasese, Kumi, Kyegegwa and Ntungamo districts. 

Mobilizing Public Support and Ownership of the YPS Agenda

Young women’s and men’s multifaceted roles are often misunderstood and misconstrued in conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. Emphasizing youth peacebuilders as critical contributors and decision-makers in local and national conflict prevention and peace processes can counter the stereotypes that often label them as victims. Members from the Uganda YPS coalition actively participated in radio talk shows alongside local government officials to enlighten thousands of listeners about the crucial intersectionality of the WPS and YPS agendas. Listeners demonstrated a willingness to support the meaningful participation of youth in peace discussions that were previously reserved for older community members. GNWP’s financial and technical support to the YPS project amplified the narratives of coalition members and underscored the imperative of providing platforms for youth to continuously engage in conflict prevention efforts. Their stories championed the fostering of a culture in which young women and men are recognized as decision-makers and leaders, steering the course toward sustainable peace.

Anne Mugo

Anne Mugo

Associate for Africa Peacebuilding Programs

GNWP Reports from Kigali, Rwanda: Exchange of ideas, sisterhood and peer mentoring: A reflection on the Interprovincial Conference on the Economic Empowerment of Young Women in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

27 September 2023 by Simone Mbodé Diouf

"The Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) is a real opportunity to implement and develop ownership of the 1325 and 2250 agendas to improve young women’s participation in decision-making and economic empowerment."
Diavy
Member of the YWL in North Kivu

From 7 to 8 August 2023, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with the Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (SFVS) and Youth for Peace DRC, and with the support of United Women in Faith, invited members of the Young Women Leaders for Peace (YWL) network to Kigali, Rwanda. The YWL came from North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to attend an interprovincial conference on the economic empowerment of young women in the eastern part of the country. The conference advanced ongoing collaborative efforts between GNWP and the YWL networks over several years to promote women’s economic empowerment, economic justice, and access to and control of resources. The primary goal of the meeting was to foster interprovincial solidarity between the two YWL chapters, encourage collaboration and peer mentoring, and exchange ideas and best practices. The conference was also an opportunity for the YWL members to meet in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen joint advocacy promoting young women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.

On the first day, GNWP Program Director Katrina Leclerc spoke about the original purpose and structure of the YWL network, its evolution in recent years, the different chapters around the world and activities in other countries.

This reminder helped participants understand that the foundational belief of the YWL initiative is that when young women’s leadership and peacebuilding potential is harnessed, they are a positive force for transforming communities and society. It is under this premise that the YWL networks aim to recognize and value the leadership of young women and gender equality allies, as well as help them acquire the skills to advance the synergistic implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) resolutions.

“Young Women Leaders for Peace is a very good network because it makes us more open-minded through peer-to-peer mentoring and exchanging our experiences with others.”
Monique Cirimwami
Member of the YWL in South Kivu

The YWL also reflected on and shared their vision of economic empowerment. They defined it as the process by which individuals, particularly young women, develop the skills, resources and access to opportunities necessary to make independent fiscal decisions, improve their financial well-being and increase their participation in the economy. A more in-depth discussion on young women’s role in the North and South Kivu economies, and the DRC economy more generally, led participants to conclude that women’s impacts are wide-ranging and positive. Notably, women have meaningful economic contributions through their participation in business and entrepreneurship, agriculture and even industry — as market traders, domestic workers and through the unpaid care work they provide.

Participants identified concrete strategies and actions to improve the socioeconomic situation of young women and ensure their financial and economic independence in both. The YWL concluded that training young women in literacy is crucial to advancing their meaningful participation and integration in economic life. Young women have the potential to contribute to the acceleration of economic growth in their regions and countries. However, they need access to resources and greater financial autonomy to do so.

The members of the YWL networks committed to continue the discussions begun in Kigali and maintain their efforts as community leaders and peacebuilders.

“I'm committed to sharing everything we've learned at this conference with other young women leaders in North Kivu, outside Goma, and following up on the advocacy actions we've carried out.”
Emilie Katondolo
Head of the YWL in North Kivu
“I pledge to be a woman leader in my community, my province and my country. I commit to popularizing actions that promote young women and entrepreneurship on social networks and in my social circles. I will fulfill my obligation and responsibility to raise women's awareness of economic empowerment and encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship.”
Esther Atosha
YWL Network Manager in South Kivu
Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone Mbodé Diouf

Simone is the Program Officer for Africa at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)

GNWP Reports from Indonesia: Advancing Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Humanitarian Action in Southeast Asia

24 February 2023 by Bianca Pabotoy* and Katrina Leclerc**

Two months after the adoption of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security (RPA WPS), the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) made its way to Indonesia. In partnership with the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia, UN Women Indonesia, and with support from Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP), GNWP launched on 13 February 2023 in Jakarta the policy brief entitled “Intersections of Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Humanitarian Action across Southeast Asian Nations.” 

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.

Read policy brief here.


 

* Bianca Pabotoy is the Senior Program Officer for Asia and the Pacific at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).

** Katrina Leclerc is the Program Director at GNWP.

GNWP Reports from the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace in Lebanon: Searching for hope, finding it in each other

7 February 2023 by Alonna Despain*

Edited by Shawna Crystal**

When reflecting on time spent with the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL)[1] 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.


[1] 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.