Category: Youth Rights

Category: Youth Rights

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

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.

GNWP continues its boycott of Facebook because #FacebookPromotesViolence

In September 2020, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) began boycotting Facebook to protest their role in threatening peace and democracy on and offline. 

Today, on this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, over a year later, GNWP continues the #FacebookPromotesViolence campaign in light of indisputable evidence that the platform knowingly harms those most vulnerable and marginalized. Facebook fosters harmful misinformation, polarization, and hate speech around the world. Despite Facebook’s aim to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together,” their algorithms and policies disproportionately affect marginalized groups, such as women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA+) people, and other minority groups. 

A trove of internal Facebook—now Meta—documents revealed that Instagram knowingly damaged teen mental health, failed to remove hate speech before the January 6th insurrection in the United States as well as during tensions in Northern India, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly presented misinformation regarding the company’s safety performance. Facebook prioritizes profit over safety, which is antithetical to GNWP’s core mission: elevate the power of women and amplify their voices to build sustainable and inclusive peace. Therefore, GNWP will continue to boycott Facebook and join efforts to hold them accountable for their contributions to violence in the digital space which promotes violence in real life.

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.