Amplifying local voices in global policy forums: Sustaining Peace

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Amplifying local voices in global policy forums: Sustaining Peace


Read our research summary report here: Sustaining Peace_summary report.

GNWP, with support from UN Women, is leading an effort to ensure women’s civil society voices are reflected in the global policy debates around the Sustaining Peace agenda – both by adding their voices to the discussions about the agenda, and by ensuring that these global discussions are transformed into concrete and necessary actions at national and local levels. GNWP’s work on this includes Civil Society Study on Sustaining Peace, conducted in 15 countries; and global policy advocacy to highlight the results of the study, and amplify the voices of local women and civil society, including through a side event to the High Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in April 2018.


The importance of peace as a foundation for sustainable development has been underscored by a number of research studies[1], as well as the 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report, which emphasized the negative impact of conflict on education and poverty in particular.[2] This recognition has been reflected in particular in the Sustainable Development Goal 16 – “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. In a similar vein, the nexus between gender equality specifically and communities’ resilience to conflict, is also well-researched and documented.[3] Peace has been recognized as a foundation for sustainable development and gender equality. At the same time, gender equality and inclusion, in particular of women and women’s organizations, have been recognized as key drivers of peace, and studies have shown that their inclusion can lead to more durable and sustainable peace.[4]

In 2015, an Advisory Expert Group (AEG), designated by the UN Secretary-General at the request of the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, conducted a review of the UN peacebuilding architecture (the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) and Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)). Among other things, the review highlighted the nexus between peacebuilding and sustainable development; and recommended that all national leaders commit to prioritizing gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of national peacebuilding priorities.

The findings of the review gave impetus to the UN commitment to “Sustaining Peace.” In 2016, the UN General Assembly and Security Council adopted identical resolutions (UNSC Resolution 2282 and General Assembly Resolution 70.262), emphasizing the importance of a broad approach to peacebuilding, encompassing all stages of peace, not only the immediate post-conflict reconstruction.

While such an approach is in many ways novel and ground-breaking, it is also akin to the approach taken by the local women’s organization and civil society, especially in their efforts to implement the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. The work of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) with civil society, and in particular local women from conflict-affected and post-conflict countries, as well as from countries that have not experienced armed conflict in recent history, clearly shows that the key tenets of the sustaining peace agenda – long-term vision, multi-sectoral approach, and strong local ownership – are also the principles guiding the work of civil society organizations (CSOs) to promote and sustain peace in their local communities. This observation was reinforced by the responses to the CSO survey for the Global Study on Women, Peace and Security, conducted by GNWP, in partnership with Cordaid, the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, which highlighted the need to “prioritize local women, local initiatives and local implementation”; and the importance of “holistic approaches to post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding”.

As such, civil society organizations can be seen as pioneers in implementing the Sustaining Peace agenda – and as key actors who will take it forward.


Civil Society Study on Sustaining Peace

The study is being conducted in: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mexico, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Ukraine.

When selecting the countries to participate in the study, GNWP, in consultation with UN Women, strived to maintain a regional balance, as well as a balance between countries currently experiencing conflict; post-conflict countries; and countries that have not experienced conflict in recent history.

In order to triangulate all information received through the research, GNWP and its partners will use the following research methods:

– Survey questionnaire, distributed to civil society organizations, mostly women’s organizations. The survey includes a number of questions on what sustainable peace means to local communities, how they already work to build it, and how the Sustaining Peace agenda could support their efforts and fill the remaining gaps. The survey is available in Arabic, French and Spanish, and to complete online, as well as on paper.

– Focus group discussions (FGDs) with civil society organizations and local women’s organizations. These discussions will complement the survey with more in-depth questions and qualitative analysis of what Sustaining Peace agenda means for local populations, and how it can strengthen and complement their ongoing efforts.

– Key informant interviews (KIIs) with women civil society leaders, youth and community leaders and other relevant stakeholders in target countries.

– Review of relevant documentation on the Sustaining Peace agenda, as well as efforts to build and sustain peace in the target countries.

 The data collection took place between April and September 2018. GNWP presented the key findings and recommendations at a side event during the 18th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in New York, which also featured women speakers from Canada, Philippines, South Sudan and Syria.


Research findings

The key findings and recommendations stemming from the research are presented in the summary report available here: Sustaining Peace_summary report.

The findings are divided into four chapters, focusing on key research areas:

  • On what peace and “sustaining peace” means: The findings in this chapter clearly demonstrate that to women peace activists, peace is more than an absence of war – it is access to resources, education and employment; presence of strong institutions; and a culture of peace, understood as mutual respect, harmony and inclusion. Consequently, sustaining peace interventions need to focus on long-term, transformative approaches that address all of these issues.


  • On women’s participation in formal and informal peace processes: There has been significant progress in the inclusion of women in both formal and informal peace processes. However, 13% of respondents still said women are not included at all in peace process; and 30% said they are not included at all in the implementation of peace agreements. Moreover, there is still a need to ensure that the inclusion extends to all women – including young, differently abled, and indigenous women and other marginalized groups.


  • On how women’s civil society is already working to sustain peace: This chapter includes numerous examples of initiatives by women’s civil society, ranging from educating the youth; promoting and facilitating dialogue and mediation at the local level; organizing neighborhood watch to prevent electoral violence; providing skills training and income-generation activities for women; to supporting the victims of violence and conflict, for example through providing psychosocial support, or shelters for victims of violence.


  • On the support from the donor community: This chapter highlights that while the donor community’s efforts to support gender-sensitive peacebuilding initiatives are appreciated, there is a need for stronger local leadership in shaping international agendas and donor priorities. 20% of survey respondents reported that the local civil society was not able to influence the design of donor programs at all, and 17 per cent reported they could do so only to a limited extent.

Next Steps: Localizing Sustaining Peace

GNWP will continue its work to bring local women’s voices, perspectives and experiences to the global policy discussions on Sustainable Peace, including through organizing conferences and trainings on operationalizing Sustaining Peace at regional, national and local levels.


For more information on GNWP’s work on Sustaining Peace, contact our Program Coordinator, Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos at


Last update: October 24, 2018

[1] Cf. Gates, S. et al., “Development consequences of armed conflict”, World Development, Vol. 40, No. 9, September 2012; Stewart, F., “Conflict and the Millennium Development Goals”, Journal of Human Development, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2003.; Denney L., “Security: The missing bottom of the Millennium Development Goals? Prospects for inclusion in the post-MDG development framework”, Overseas Development Institute, August 2012.

[2] United Nations, Millennium Development Goals Report, 2014.

[3] Cf. Caprioli, M., 2005. Primed for violence: The role of gender inequality in predicting internal conflict. Int. Stud. Q. 49, 161–178.; Gizelis, T.-I., 2009. Gender Empowerment and United Nations Peacebuilding. J. Peace Res. 46, 505–523.

[4] Coomaraswamy, C. et al, (2015). Preventing Conflict Transforming Justice Securing the Peace A Global Study on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. Retrieved from:;
Report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security. S/2017/861. 16 October 2017.