Empowering Young Women to Become Leaders, Peacebuilders and Change Agents

  • Home
  • Programs
  • Empowering Young Women to Become Leaders, Peacebuilders and Change Agents

Empowering Young Women to Become Leaders, Peacebuilders and Change Agents

Young women are often subject to double marginalization – as women, and as young people. In many societies and families, they are the last to eat, to speak, to receive an education. They do not have a voice, and only speak when spoken to. With little or no education or training, young women and girls are relegated to caretaking, cooking, childbearing, collecting firewood and fetching water – the unpaid labour, which is often not regarded as important by the society, and does not provide the women with financial means of their own. In conflict-affected situations, all of this is aggravated. Yet, humanitarian policies and programs rarely recognize the specific challenges and double marginalization faced by young women. The discourse on violent extremism also tends to characterize young women as passive victims. As a result, their agency and potentials as leaders and peacebuilders are not realized.

Responding to the absence of young women in policy spaces and programming on peace and security and humanitarian emergencies, GNWP is implementing the Girl Ambassadors for Peace (GA4P) in Bangladesh and Indonesia under its Young Women for Peace and Leadership (YWPL) program. The YWPL is also operational in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, and South Sudan. It empowers young women from conflict- and disaster-affected communities to be leaders, peacebuilders and change agents.

The overarching goal of the YWPL program and the GA4P project is to enhance the capacities of young women and girls to promote and protect their rights, using the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) on Women, Peace and Security  as well as UNSCR  2250 and 2419 on Youth, Peace and Security as policy framework.

The four components of the program that participants in the GA4P and YWPL undergo are:

1. Leadership: training on how to become a leader, characteristics of a leader, role modelling and mentorship. The participants are  also given various responsibilities related to managing projects in their communities;

2. Literacy: training on how to become literacy trainers, and teach non-literate women and girls how to read and write, thereby raising the literacy rate in their communities or in refugee camps. In Bangladesh, young Bengali women from the host communities are teaching Rohingya women and girls in refugee camps how to read, write, count and perform basic Arithmetic. In South Sudan, young women leaders are teaching literacy in refugee camps;

3. Peacebuilding: interactive techniques to enhance young women’s skills in peacebuilding and preventing violent extremism; and in facilitating dialogues on various issues affecting  through theatre and the use of social media, and then use them to promote peacebuilding in local communities and villages, to which they travel;

4. Economic empowerment: in 2017, GNWP introduced the Economic Empowerment and Preventing Violent Extremism components to the program, responding to the needs identified by local communities in Bangladesh and Indonesia. During the Focus Group Discussions conducted by GNWP prior to the training of young women in Indonesia, the lack of economic opportunities was identified as a major “pull factor” attracting young people to violent extremism. Misinterpretation of religion was  identified only as a secondary pull factor.  As a response, GNWP included economic empowerment as a key component of training in the GA4P project. Economic empowerment is also a feature of the young women’s training in the DRC.


The Young Women for Peace and Leadership program has had a tangible impact on the lives of young women and girls. It has also provided GNWP with unique insights and perspectives on violent extremism and how it can be prevented with the involvement of young women; as well as innovative ways of preventing conflict and sustaining peace.

GNWP also identifies global advocacy opportunities for young women to be able to participate in global policy discussions at the UN United Nations Headquarters in New York and other venues. For example, during the High Level Political Forum on Sustaining Peace in April 2018 and the 18th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, members of GA4P and YWPL partners from DRC and the Philippines, were the speakers.

GNWP is currently developing a Toolkit on leadership, literacy, peacebuilding and economic empowerment based on the training of GA4P members in Bangladesh and Indonesia to enable easy replication of the  training in other countries.


The YWPL is implemented in partnership with the following  national and local organizations: 

Democratic Republic of Congo: 

–  Synergie des femmes pour les victimes des violences sexuelles (SFVS)

Synergie des associations féminines du Congo (SAFECO)


– Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN)

– Muslimat NU

– University of Indonesia –  Division for Applied Social Psychology Research


Center for Peace Education of Miriam College 

South Sudan:

– Generation In Action


For more information on GNWP’s work on the Young Women for Peace and Leadership, contact Katrina Leclerc at katrina@gnwp.orgFor the GA4P project in Bangladesh and Indonesia, contact Mallika Iyer at mallika@gnwp.org.

Last update: December 26, 2018

Meet our Young Women from DRC: The future is female, the future is now!



Follow our Young Women for Peace and Leadership on Facebook and #YWPL on Twitter/Instagram for updates on their activities on the ground.