Integrating Gender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemen

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Photo: Yemeni human rights investigators discuss the importance of integrating a gender equality and peace and security lens in human rights documentation and advocacy during the training organized by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), in partnership with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, and with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.

Integrating Gender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemen

November 20, 2019 by Dinah Lakehal and Mavic Cabrera Balleza

The United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions on Sustaining Peace reaffirm the link and underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace, wherein ‘respect for, and protection of, human rights and fundamental freedoms’ are an integral component. Human rights monitoring and investigation are core aspects of efforts in peace, reconciliation and sustainable peace.

A critical element of human rights documentation and investigation that contribute to sustainable peace is the awareness of specific patterns and norms related to gender-based discrimination and the use of gender analysis.  Gender analysis can prevent overlooking critical human rights violations or abuses. It can also strengthen the investigations and reports by contributing to an analysis that addresses the adverse human rights impact that certain human rights situations or crises can have on different individuals or populations, including women, men, girls and boys, as well as on LGBTI or persons with nonbinary gender identities. This gender sensitive analysis can therefore contribute to better tailor the recommendations and the response provided to violations.

However, human rights investigators in Yemen often lack the specific skills and capacities to integrate a gender analysis into their investigation. Responding to the request of Yemeni human rights organizations to enhance their capacities in integrating a gender perspective in their human rights documentation, the Global Network of Women Peaceuilders (GNWP) facilitated the training “IntegratingGender and Conflict Lens into Human Rights Investigations in Yemenwith Yemeni human rights organizations.  

With support from the Swiss Development Cooperation and in partnership with Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, GNWP  held a training on November 17 – 18, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to support human rights investigators representing different governorates in Yemen to build critical skills to reflect women’s distinct rights and needs – and the differential impact that the conflict has on them – in their reports. As one of the participants of the training stated, “the conflict in Yemen impacts men and women differently, it’s important to reflect that in our reporting.”

The civil war in Yemen, which began in 2015, has plunged the country into what the United Nations has categorized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with 24 million people – close to 80 percent of Yemen’s population – needing urgent humanitarian assistance.

Women, young women, and girls have been disproportionately affected by the conflict. In addition to increasing the economic burden of women and depriving millions of girls of their access to education, the UN estimates that the conflict has led to a 63 percent increase in the levels of violence against women.

Despite the challenges they face, women are at the forefront of peacebuilding in Yemen, as mediators in community conflicts over resources, providers of basic services, and human rights defenders. Yet, they remain excluded from peace processes and political decision-making as was evident in attempts by the international community in the pursuit of a political solution and de-escalation of the conflict.

As a result of the November 2019 training, participants representing Mwatana For Human Rights, a leading human rights organization in Yemen, as well as other human rights groups committed to strengthen the integration of gender-sensitive analysis in their human rights reporting, and to disseminate the information learned from the training with other Yemeni civil society organizations. .

The training provided an opportunity for participants to conduct hands-on exercises and in-depth conflict analyzes with a gender and human rights lens, as well as to participate in collaborate expert presentations on International policy instruments – namely, the WPS resolutions, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the on-going Beijing +25 process.

GNWP will continue the collaboration with Yemeni human rights organizations in integrating a gender perspective in human rights monitoring and documentation. It will also work with Yemeni civil society in integrating WPS in future civil society shadow reports to CEDAW.