GNWP Reports from Istanbul, Türkiye: Localizing and Strengthening the WPS-HA Compact in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

GNWP Reports from Istanbul, Türkiye: Localizing and Strengthening the WPS-HA Compact in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

1 July 2024 by Sophia Farion and Daria Larionov

"WPS was adopted as a promise to women and conflict-affected communities to be put in the center. No conflict lasts five to ten years only. After peace agreements are signed, the violations are more common. The guns are silenced, but the wounds — we live with them for our entire lives; they pass through generation after generation."

The year 2025 marks significant anniversaries for gender equality: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action turns 30 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) turns 25. These milestones provide a critical opportunity to accelerate efforts for gender equality and peacebuilding amid setbacks in both areas.[1] The Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact, launched in 2021 as part of the Generation Equality initiative convened by UN Women, offers a powerful multistakeholder tool to increase accountability and financing for existing commitments to a gender-equitable and peaceful world.

On 5-6 June 2024, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Programme for Gender Issues’ WIN Project led a Training of Trainers (ToT) in Istanbul, Türkiye, to localize and strengthen the WPS-HA Compact in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus (CAEESC). Ten local peacebuilders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan gathered to learn how to implement the Compact’s goal of placing women at the center of peace, security and humanitarian action. They explored its multistakeholder approach for coordinating and monitoring WPS-HA commitments and its guiding principles of transformation. The peacebuilders highlighted the importance of increasing CAEESC civil society engagement in the Compact’s multistakeholder framework.

Peacebuilders from Central Asia emphasized the need to encourage civil society organizations (CSOs) from their region to join the WPS-HA Compact, as there are currently no Central Asian CSO signatories. More signatories would ensure their unique regional challenges are considered, such as empowering ethnic monitory communities and vulnerable groups at border regions in peace and security decisions. “We sign [the Compact] because we have to know the agenda to build our own capacity,” they explained. There was a particular appreciation of the Compact’s intergenerational approach, given the strong mobilization of Central Asian young women in sustainable peace efforts.

Eastern European peacebuilders embraced the Compact for its potential to increase the visibility of local women’s peacebuilding organizations, enabling them to attract funding and enhance operational effectiveness. They noted that engaging the private sector through the Compact could spark economic empowerment and job creation for women in Ukraine and Moldova affected by Russia’s full-scale invasion.

In the South Caucasus, women-led CSOs have dedicated decades to implementing the WPS agenda, particularly working with vulnerable populations. With strong WPS networks across the public, private, academic and civil society sectors, joining the Compact would strengthen government accountability for WPS commitments in existing or drafted National Action Plans. “It’s time to turn this commitment into action,” a Georgian participant stated.

Over the two days, participants translated their motivation for inclusive WPS-HA in their region into action plans, addressing peacebuilding issues and increasing government and civil society signatories to the Compact. Discussions covered key issues, such as shrinking civic space for women human rights defenders, financing women’s education and entrepreneurship, creating comprehensive support systems for women’s economic security and overcoming barriers to women’s participation in peace processes. 

A shared concern across the three regions was the need for increased flexible and sustainable funding for local women peacebuilding organizations to effectively address the gendered peace, development and humanitarian needs in their communities.

Recommendations to address these issues included stronger legal frameworks, comprehensive assistance networks for women peacebuilders and improved access to international platforms and funding.

ToT participants shared these challenges and recommendations with representatives of multilateral international and regional organizations. During a consultative event on the second day, Dr. Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues, spoke about the importance of investing in women’s leadership and creating networks for decision-making. Mr. Klaus Beck, UNFPA Deputy Regional Director, highlighted UNFPA’s role in promoting gender equality and supporting young women as catalysts of change. Mr. Francesco Marrella from ODHIR discussed advancing women’s leadership through commitments and regular consultations with women’s rights defenders, emphasizing men’s responsibility to implement WPS agenda commitments.

The ToT on Localizing and Strengthening the WPS-HA Compact in CAEESC emphasized the Compact’s significance as a transformative framework for addressing current challenges and promoting gender equality. The ToT has already led to more civil society signatories to the Compact, with four organizations from the region applying since. Participants committed to conducting at least eight training sessions with relevant target groups within their communities to disseminate the knowledge and skills acquired. These training sessions are expected to strengthen local capacities and contribute to the broader goals of the WPS-HA Compact. Continued advocacy by local peacebuilders to increase civil society and government signatories will expand the Compact’s reach and effectiveness, ensuring greater accountability to WPS and gender-responsive humanitarian action across the region.

GNWP is grateful to the OSCE for their ongoing support through the “WIN-Women & Men Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality” project. Read more about GNWP and the OSCE’s partnership here.

[1] UN Secretary-General. (2023). Report of the Secretary-General on Women and peace and security. UN Security Council. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/4024756?ln=en&v=pdf#files

Picture of Sophia Farion

Sophia Farion

Program Coordinator for Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus

Picture of Daria Larionov

Daria Larionov

Associate for Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Peacebuilding Programs