Young Women, Peace and Security

Young Women, Peace and Security

October 15, 2015

Yesterday’s side event to the High-Level Review on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 entitled, Young Women, Peace & Security, was an event to give young women and men peacebuilders a platform to share their experiences, to highlight the Amman Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security, and to put forth concrete measures to recognize and support the work of young women and men peacebuilders.

The event opened with the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, Ambassador Heiko Thoms referencing the Global Study on UNSCR 1325 conducted by UN Women and the passage of UNSCR 2242 during Tuesday’s Open Debate, as momentum that young people can use to push forth their youth, peace and security agenda.

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, took the stage next to emphasize that now is the time for young peacebuilders – especially young women – to really engage in the youth, peace and security agenda.  Highlighting theAmman Youth Declaration as evidence of the pivotal role youth have taken to make space for their agenda and its gravitas as a groundbreaking event and outcome as a means to show the way young people are able to perform when given the opportunity to be involved as actors.  He also made sure to point out that the presence of Ms. Alaa Mourabit, Founder and President of the Voice of Libyan Women, as the event’s moderator was a clear representation of consistency in supporting the programming of young peacebuilders.

Ms. Mourabit then took the floor to introduce panelists and ask them to answer in one question why youth are so important in peacebuilding.  The first to answer Ms. Mourabit’s question was Chernor Bah, and activist and associate of the Population Council and a Sierra Leonean peacebuilder.  Mr. Bah’s answer and later explanation was emphasizing the need to invest in young people, especially young women, because it is the, “most effective way to change dynamics from today [and] to give the educational tools to build from the bottom up.”

Romeral Ortiz Quintilla of the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) was next to answer Ms. Mourabit’s question by stating that peacebuilding processes need to be inclusive.  Ms. Ortiz Quintilla described the need for inclusion when she said, “We also want to be involved in meaningful ways.  We want to learn from the 1325 founders and shapers to learn from the process they took.  We don’t want to be exclusive.  We don’t want to only be youth.  We want to be intergenerational.  We want to be equal partners not just checking a box that youth were included.”

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, the International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) illustrated that youth are often seen in a dichotomy of either victim or perpetrator, but she went on to emphasize that the middle ground is where young people are most dynamic; they are game changers and innovators.  Ms. Cabrera-Balleza gave the example of GNWP’s Girl Ambassador’s for Peace program that creates a space for young women to be peacebuilders in their own communities, by starting from the very beginning in literacy training, and then moving on to capacity building and leadership development, weaving in the principles of UNSCR 1325.

The final panelist was Francia Marquez, an Afro-Colombian youth leader who brought to the fore the added layers of discrimination that are present when one is a woman, an African descendent, and a single mother.   Coming from a community that is highly reliant on its land that is being threatened, Ms. Marquez brought another dynamic to the panel by emphasizing the need for a development model when talking about peace.

To close the panel Stan Nkwain, the Deputy Director of UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, gave words of wisdom to the young peacebuilders as well as to those supporting them.  He warned against the possibility of missed opportunities if youth focus only on a youth, peace and security agenda and fail to realize the other opportunities to insert youth into developing agendas.  Mr. Nkwain also called for youth to move beyond the protests and to be engaged.

As we reflect on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda during the 15th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and the newly passed UNSCR 2242, one can only hope that the youth, peace and security agenda is able to achieve implementation.

This blog does not necessarily represent the views of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Please contact the writer for questions and comments:

By Lauren von Eckartsberg, Project Staff, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.