GNWP Reports from Lebanon: Co-leadership on Youth, Peace and Security despite complex regional dynamics

GNWP Reports from Lebanon: Co-leadership on Youth, Peace and Security despite complex regional dynamics

26 June 2024 by Johnny Assaf

Edited by Katrina Leclerc

Twenty-two members of the Young Women+ Leaders for Peace (YWL) network in Lebanon gathered for a capacity-strengthening and strategic planning workshop to launch their 2024-2025 planning. Their priorities: transformative change in the community, particularly focusing on empowering young women leaders, sharing insights and feedback on their past work, and strategizing their forthcoming peacebuilding and social cohesion initiatives.

The YWL-Lebanon is a diverse network launched in 2021 by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Permanent Peace Movement (PPM), with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP). The YWL network welcomes young women, young men and gender-diverse youth from Lebanon, including refugees from Palestine and Syria. In recognition for their diversity, the YWL have been intentionally vocal since the October 2023 violence outbreak in Gaza, particularly calling for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid to be distributed to Palestinians in the region.

“As a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, seeing my people in Gaza being exterminated in cold blood is never an easy matter. The fires of Gaza have reached me and severely impacted me psychologically. I have worked with my colleagues in the YWL network to the best of our ability to amplify the voices of the victims in Gaza and to reveal the truth behind what is happening there, despite the Western media blackout. This is what we have always strived for and continue to strive for in this network: freedom and peace for all.”

Another priority for the YWL-Lebanon is the devastating impact of climate change on peace and security. In February 2023, members met with the Lebanese Minister of Environment, Dr. Nasser Yassin. Their promising encounter explored collaborative opportunities with the Ministry and environmental organizations to devise strategies that raise awareness on the intersecting issues of gender and climate. The Minister also highlighted efforts to develop and update policies addressing the interconnected challenges of peace, security and climate change.

One of the YWL-Lebanon’s first public initiatives was held on 1 March 2024. A High-Level Youth Forum on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) and Humanitarian Action was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Twenty-eight key stakeholders from various sectors, including UN agency representatives, government officials, and local and international civil society organizations, met to discuss pressing challenges and opportunities identified by the YWL. The Forum provided the network with a platform to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration to further their advocacy around the YPS resolutions.

“The YWL network is crucial for empowering us as young women through leadership development, capacity-building and ensuring true participation. It offers networking opportunities and advocacy for women’s rights, and provides us with role models and a supportive community. This fosters the next generation of women leaders and promotes gender equality and social change.”

The Forum served as an opportunity for the YWL to solicit closer collaboration and co-leadership of the implementation of YPS commitments across Lebanon. For example, as a UN mandate holder, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office committed to coordinating with the YWL for the development and strengthening of Lebanon’s youth policies and hopefully forthcoming National Action Plan on YPS. The Ministry of Youth and Sports reiterated its appreciation for the YWL network’s leadership in advocating for YPS in the country, including by serving as advisors to the Ministry in their contributions to the Arab League’s Regional Strategy on YPS.

GNWP is grateful to Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP) for its ongoing support of gender- and age-sensitive peacebuilding programs in Lebanon.

Picture of Johnny Assaf

Johnny Assaf

Associate for Middle East and North Africa Peacebuilding Programs