Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

A global analysis of violence against women defenders in environmental conflicts


Excerpts from publication by Dalena Tran & Ksenija Hanaček in Nature


Women environmental defenders face retaliation for mobilizing against extractive and polluting projects, which perpetrate violence against Indigenous, minority, poor and rural communities. The issue matters because it highlights the gendered nature of extractive violence and the urgent need to address the systemic patterns of violence that affect women defenders, who are often overlooked and underreported. Here we analyse violence against women defenders in environmental conflicts around the world. We use data from the Environmental Justice Atlas and employ log-linear and binomial regressions to find statistically significant patterns in displacement, repression, criminalization, violent targeting and assassinations committed against women defenders in extractive conflicts.

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Statistical results indicate that violence against women defenders is concentrated among mining, agribusiness and industrial conflicts in the geographical South. Repression, criminalization and violent targeting are closely linked, while displacement and assassination appear as extreme outcomes when conflict violence worsens. Women defenders experience high rates of violence regardless of countries’ governance accountability and gender equality. This work contributes to the broader sustainability agenda by highlighting the need to address the impacts of extractive activities on women.


Extractivism refers to projects extracting natural resources for exportation. It is an inherently unequal process often inciting extractivist violence, or the institutionalized use of brute force to displace and dominate communities for extractive and polluting projects such as mines or plantations. The extractive process frequently involves militarizing communities and assassinating environmental defenders, those advocating to protect environmental and human rights5. Such violence is typically justified by dehumanizing people and denying them agency through systematically excluding them from economic, social, political and cultural activities (for example, through classism, racialization and gendering). Extractive violence is also connected to ecocide, the notion that environmental destruction is criminal and has devastating genocidal impacts on affected communities dependent on the health of their environments for physical, spiritual, and cultural wellbeing. Genocidal outcomes are those exterminating and persecuting groups, assimilating survivors and erasing their culture.

Current literature describes a connection between colonial extractive attitudes, ecocide and genocide of Indigenous peoples, minorities, the poor and rural communities1. Ecocide typically begins with land grabbing, or forcefully dispossessing communities of their lands and natural resources. Such usurpation is secured through legal and institutional structures such as land ownership regimes disrupting common law tenure. This colonial control is also reinforced through covertly and overtly discriminatory ideological and discursive practices. Ensuing ecological destruction then becomes genocidal when causing conditions fundamentally threatening a group’s cultural and physical existence. More specifically, direct physical violence gives way to indirect forms of extermination through undermining place-based livelihoods, such as deforestation causing food instability, pollution causing health impacts, or structural inequalities increasing vulnerability to violence and ecological consequences.

There has been increasing attention to the ecocide–genocide nexus through environmental defender killings as well as slow violence wherein people suffer from long-term environmental harms. This study contributes an ecocide–genocide–gender connection to such literature. Violence against women environmental defenders (WEDs) is overlooked, and extractive violence is gendered. Corporations and states typically concentrate power among men during project negotiations, limiting women’s autonomy and normalizing their oppression. WEDs face retaliation because mobilizing defies gender expectations of docility (lack of retaliation) and sacrifice (absorption of extractive consequences).

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Questions for this article

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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Assassinations are the most visible form of direct violence, but all threats to women defenders are difficult to document owing to censorship and a lack of dat. Lacking documentation of violence against women especially is also prevalent owing to discursive discrimination against women treating the loss of their lives as normal, deserved and ‘ungrievable. To address this gap, this article examines 523 cases from the Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas) involving WEDs, 81 of which involve WEDs assassinated for their advocacy. Routine assassinations of WEDs are not isolated incidences, but rather political tactics forcefully making way for extractivism. Media reports often focus on gruesome details to sensationalize yet trivialize WEDs’ struggles, often not recording names, let alone their struggle. Patterns of extractive violence against women thus remain overlooked.

In this Article, we address the following questions: (1) Where and under which circumstances do WEDs experience different forms of violence leading up to their assassinations? (2) How do structural patterns of violence affect women defenders? Log-linear regression traced distributions of violence against WEDs across conflict types, commodities and impacts. Binomial regression then addressed structural patterns in countries where WEDs were assassinated. This article contributes global patterns of violence against WEDs. We broaden analyses to circumstances leading up to and including assassinations because ecocide is not limited to killings, but rather encompasses displacement, repression, criminalization and violent targeting. Given our statistical approach and the nature of the material, we are aware of the potential dehumanization of WEDs’ circumstances and denial of their agency. However, quantitative data analysis using a large, representative sample is necessary for strengthening arguments that patterns of violence against women defenders found in qualitative, locally focused case studies are not outliers, but rather are occurring worldwide.

Regarding circumstances informing WED assassinations, extrajudicial killings predominantly occurred in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Many cases were in the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico (Fig. 1). Even in Southern cases, some in Costa Rica, Kenya, Rwanda and Saint Lucia targeted Global North expatriates. The data are skewed towards the Philippines. There were 19 WED assassination cases, more than double compared with Colombia in second place. Some Philippines cases were massacres or serial killings, assassinating 26 WEDs across 19 cases, whereas cases elsewhere targeted one or two at a time.

Figure 2 shows that the types of conflict with high statistical significance (P ≤ 0.05) of violence against WEDs were biomass and land, mineral extraction and industrial and utilities conflicts. The distribution of violence throughout biomass and land conflicts (n = 146) was that nearly half of all corresponding cases involved repression (41%), criminalization (43%) and violent targeting (48%) of women defenders. . . .

Discussion (excerpts)

. . . . Overall, an ecocide–genocide–gender connection is thus apparent in how assassinations and extractive violence were situated within contexts producing gender-specific vulnerabilities for women defenders. Ecocidal dispossession of lands and resources, as many of the EJAtlas cases corroborate, often began upon intrusion of masculinized extractive industries into communities. Genocide caused cultural and physical erasure of peoples standing in the way of extractivism, and ecocide further accomplished such erasure through undermining women’s agency. As occurred in the deadliest countries towards WEDs, changing land ownership regimes8 used patriarchal ideologies to foster ecocidal conditions (extermination, persecution, survivor assimilation and cultural erasure) emboldening violence in subtly gendered manifestations of repression, criminalization, violent targeting and assassination.

The ecocide of Indigenous peoples across Southeast Asian EJAtlas cases, for example, has distinctly gendered aspects. Many Southeast Asian Indigenous peoples formerly had alternative gender cosmologies beyond man–woman binaries and with relatively more egalitarian power relations. Colonization goes beyond territorial invasion. Consequently, colonization and ensuing extractive land grabbing brought new legal, administrative and market structures concentrating (often militarized) power among men. We argue that, through discrimination and violence, these institutions committed ecocidal–genocidal–gendered violence by exterminating and persecuting Indigenous community leaders, erasing formerly egalitarian gender roles and relations, and assimilating survivors into marginalized, binary and unequal gendered labour and social divisions.

Ecocide rewrites WEDs’ histories and bodies as inferior and deserving of extermination. Ecocidal control of populations2 then occurs as fear of and actually experienced gendered (lethal) violence not only deters mobilizations but also creates impunity as women are less able to mobilize safely and openly. Moreover, while most cases do not explicitly report WED involvement or violence, this reflects representational and mobilization inequalities. For instance, there is a difference in how Indigenous and non-Indigenous women defenders negotiate and are impacted by extractive violence in different ways. Such intersectional differences exist and should be explored in future work.

Angola Debates The Women’s Role In Building Peace And Democracy


An article from the African Media Agency

The Angolan vice-president, Esperança da Costa, will open this Thursday, May 25, the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, in an event that will also involve, as speakers, like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (former President of the Republic of Liberia), Epsy Campbell Barr – former Vice President of Costa Rica (Member of the UNHCR Permanent Forum for People of African Descent) and Zahira Virani (Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System Nations in Angola).

Video of the event

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, which takes place over two days (May 25th and 26th, at the Hotel Intercontinental Miramar), is an event that focuses on women’s struggle for equality, emancipation, continental development for Peace and Democracy, part of the Luanda Biennial – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, which is a joint initiative between the Government of Angola, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO) and the African Union (AU).

Operatively coordinated by the Minister of State for Social Action, Dalva Ringote Allen, the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, which takes place under the theme “Technological Innovation and Education for the Achievement of Gender Equality” and with the motto “Innovation Technology as a Tool for Achieving Food Security Combating Drought on the African Continent”, aims to:

* Reaffirm and strengthen political commitment to action on gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and their human rights, ensuring high-level engagement,

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(Click here for information in Portuguese)

Question for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

The Luanda Biennale: What is its contribution to a culture of peace in Africa?

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* Foment discussion events through round tables, high-level interactive dialogues, to exchange experiences, lessons learned and good practices.
* Debate on the status of gender equality on the African continent, identifying goals and achievements achieved, and challenges to fill existing gaps

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy also has the following specific objectives:

* Identify areas of convergence within the national chapters of the Bienal de Luanda and expand the position of groups of young women leaders at national level,

* Establish regional, continental and international cooperation protocols,

* Propose concrete actions for the qualification of young women, promoting opportunities for access to the labor market.

In order to materialize these objectives, five thematic panels were programmed, globally, for the two days of work, namely “The challenges of globalization in the process of gender empowerment”, “Technological innovation and education to achieve gender equality” , “Formalization as a mechanism for social and financial inclusion”, “Challenges of food security and climate change on the African continent” and “The role of women in consolidating peace and preventing conflicts”.

The program of the 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy includes two master classes in the conference auditorium of the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas, with the themes “Challenges of Food Security and Climate Change on the African Continent”, by Papa Abdoulaye Seck (former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment and Ambassador of Senegal to Italy) and “Financing for Development in Africa Calls for a Paradigm Change: The Driving Role of Domestic Resources”, by Cristina Isabel Lopes Duarte – Adviser to the Secretary General of UN for Africa.

The 1st International Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy is aimed at Women Leaders of African Regional Organizations, Women Leaders, Heads of Government and members of the PALOPS, CPLP and OEACP. International and National Organizations, Representatives of Diplomatic Missions, Representatives of public sector entities, Public and private companies and Private sector entities.

Women must play a larger role in peace building and resolving conflicts –African Development Bank chief


An article from the African Development Bank (reprinted as non-commercial use)

Women’s proven role in conflict resolution makes the unique position of First Ladies even more important as agents for resolving conflicts in Africa.

“Men make wars, women make peace. Women must therefore be included in peace making, peace building, conflict resolution, and reconstruction efforts.” African Development Bank President told guests at the inauguration of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) state-of-the-art headquarters in Abuja heard on Tuesday.

“There can be no development without peace and security,” said Dr Adesina in a speech delivered on his behalf by the African Development Bank’s Director General for Nigeria, Lamin Barrow.

Nigeria’s first lady and outgoing chair of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, Aisha Buhari, emphasised the significance of women’s role  in conflict resolution.

“As women leaders and mothers, our role in peace and security is to continue to say no to the culture and structures of violence that make people accept and unleash violence on innocent victims, the majority of whom are women and children,” she said.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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She told the gathering that the African First Ladies Peace Mission has received the endorsement and support of partners led by the African Union. AFLPM has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Union to cooperate on peacebuilding, Buhari said.

The African Development Bank has partnered with the African Union to develop security-indexed investment bonds to help mobilise funding to address the root causes of political instability, protect businesses and livelihoods, and rebuild infrastructure in conflict-affected areas.

The bank is also providing support to vulnerable and internally displaced women living in refugee camps in the Sahel region.

“Nothing works without peace and security,” Adesina said, adding his voice to the African Union’s call to ‘silence the guns.’  “Many parts of Africa face major security challenges from conflict and war. Today, 85% of Africans live in or near a country in conflict.”

Women and children are disproportionately affected by wars, he said, adding that sexual violence, abductions, forced conscription and trafficking in women must end.

“Women’s voices must never be silenced,” Adesina added.

The Bank chief described African first ladies as critical to the efforts of African leaders and the African Union to ensure a peaceful and secure Africa by 2063.

“Your focus on addressing violence, promoting the role of women, fostering a culture of peace, and reducing conflict, are truly commendable,” Adesina said. “The African Development Bank stands ready to support your efforts and we look forward to a strong partnership with your organisation.”

He also stressed the importance of a collective responsibility to unite in order to resolve conflicts, break cycles of violence and address fragility.

Women peace-makers call for a holistic and sustainable peace


An article from the World Council of Churches

Meaningful participation by women in a conflict resolution and peace-building promotes a more sustainable peace, a panel discussion with women peace-makers concluded, after the screening of a documentary on the 2015 “Women Cross the DMZ” initiative.

The European premiere of the documentary “Crossings” took place on 21 March at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, as part of the World Council of Churches’ support for the Korea Peace Appeal campaign and accompaniment of the advocacy efforts of Korean churches for sustainable peace in the region.

Panelists and their supporters after the screening of the documentary “Crossings” at the Ecumenical centre in Geneva on 21 March 2023. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

The film, directed by Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem, explores enduring questions about war’s legacy on the Korean Peninsula and the significant and inspiring role women can play in resolving the world’s most intractable conflicts.

The documentary “Crossings” particularly recognizes and celebrates women’s involvement in working for peace on the Korean Peninsula. It follows 30 women peacemakers from different parts of the world on their historic journey crossing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) from North to South Korea, calling for an end to the Korean War and for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

One of the panelists and peacemakers portrayed in the documentary, Mimi Han, vice president of World YWCA, noted that “another crossing is within ourselves in South Korea – unfortunately, even in the faith community. It is sad to confess that there is a huge DMZ, or 38th parallel within ourselves.” The film demonstrates the importance of overcoming our own boundaries and barriers, highlighting the inspiring example of women from diverse backgrounds coming together and working towards a common goal, said Han.

“When I was a child, I usually heard from my parents: be a peacemaker, and practice peace in your daily life,” said Young-Mi Cho, another panelist from Korea, executive director of the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace. “Women can cross the boundaries within ourselves and make difference, achieving it in different ways. We want to end the war and make the world better, working all together.”

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(Click here for the French version of this article, or here for the Spanish version .)

Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, noted that the film helps us to understand that the continued division of the Korean Peninsula is an artifact of the Cold War, “which was largely a conflict between white men.

“This historical reality requires us to engage in a more inclusive approach to the resolution of this matter. In addition to giving agency to women peace-makers around the world, it also means giving agency back to the Korean people, North and South,” said Prove. “Ultimately the construction of peace on the Korean Peninsula must be the joint project of Koreans – not obstructed by white men elsewhere.”

Women being involved in transforming situations of conflict is something we see a lot in the Biblical narrative, said Rev. Nicole Ashwood, WCC programme executive for Just Community of Women and Men. “What I was struck by in the film – even if there were times when women faltered and questioned how to proceed in the face of obstruction and opposition—these women understood the need to present a united front and that their strength and power came from their unity. There is a call for church to be involved in advocacy, and to join the women in Korea in their quest for peace,” stated Ashwood.

Despite the group of women in the film being very diverse, their experiences with war and peace processes are strikingly similar, noted Ewa Eriksson Fortier, one of the Women Cross the DMZ delegates and a longtime leader of humanitarian work in North Korea.

“We have the UN Security Council’s resolution to include women in peace and conflict resolution processes – the legal framework is there; many countries have made national plans of its implementation, but the implementation itself is very much resisted or put down in priorities of many countries,” said Eriksson Fortier, adding that today the situation in the world is even more serious with the war in Ukraine, and peace movements in the world will have a lot of resistance to overcome, ”but we must never give up.”

“When women call for peace, we are not just talking about peace in a sense of a national security, as absence of war, conflict and weapons,” added Mimi Han during the discussion. “We talk about common security, human security, seeing peace in a more holistic way, including socio-economic, health, environment, and climate security. Therefore we believe that meaningful participation of women, sharing power, brings peace which is more sustainable.”

The current political situation is a moment to develop the broader peace movement in Korea, as well as the Korean woman’s peace movement, noted Young-Mi Cho. “We want to reach out with our peace movement not only in Korea, but also in conflict situations in other countries as well. As the film concluded – let’s get started! We have to do it, and we have to do it together,” said the Korean peace-maker, encouraging women around the world to join the work for peace.

The panel discussion was moderated by Rev. Dr Peter Cruchley, director of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. Co-sponsors of the documentary screening: Women Cross the DMZ (WCDMZ), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI) and Korean Women’s Movement for Peace (KWMP).

As 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement whereby the Korean War was suspended, but not ended, the World Council of Churches is urging churches worldwide to join the Korea Peace Appeal, a campaign that promotes replacing the Armistice Agreement with a permanent peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula.

Kenya: Women lead efforts to restore peace in the troubled North


An article by Bakari Ang’ela in The Saturday Standard

Women from the troubled parts of North Rift have established networks and platforms in their push to spearhead peace-building efforts in areas ravaged by banditry.

The women drawn from Turkana, West Pokot and Marakwet communities have kicked-off talks with their Ethiopian and Ugandan counterparts to take leading roles in the restoration of peace in the North.

Women groups drawn from Turkana, West Pokot and Marakwet communities in the troubled North Rift launch a peace-building caravan.[Bakari Ang’ela, Standard]

Maendeleo ya Wanawake and civil society groups championing women empowerment in Turkana County said rural women if supported, can fully participate in conflict prevention and resolution.

The women have been holding meetings in areas such as Kibish, West Pokot-Turkana, and Kenya-Uganda borders and other border areas near the vast region hit by attacks.

According to Kerio Valley peace icon and former Gender Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Linah Kilimo, the women groups can influence a change of attitude among suspected bandits.

“We had started meeting women from troubled areas in a bid to empower them to champion peace, but the initiative was interrupted. I am encouraging the government to support women in their push to champion peace,” said Kilimo.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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Baringo County resident Maureen Lemashepe, on the other hand, asked Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to embark on women-led peace talks after the conclusion of the ongoing operation.

A message echoed by Nawi Lopem from Kang’aten village in Ethiopia who lauded meetings between Turkana and Ethiopia’s Nyangatom women as a step forward towards the achievement of cohesion and lasting peace.

“Whenever there is insecurity, women and girls can’t even access food commodities from the neighbouring trading centres because they are targets. Women can’t even get out of the areas they run to seek refuge in, to get sanitary pads. Attacks along the border have dehumanized women, and it is their time to broker peace,” said Ms Lopem

For Turkana County Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Jacinta Epeyon, the involvement of women in peace efforts was the missing link in the struggle to attain cohesion in the troubled North.

“Sustained attacks – especially on Turkana community by bandits from Baringo and Samburu counties, and by Toposa from South Sudan, Nyangatom from Ethiopia and Dodoth and Jie from Uganda – have seen women killed, others widowed and children left orphans. We are able to talk to our husbands and sons on the importance of peace and through frequent cross-border dialogues, our impact will be felt,” said Epeyon.

Ms Epeyon said that in remote villages such as Kokuro, Kibish, Kamuge, Napak and Napeitom, women and girls cannot easily access water and sanitary towels for their hygiene because of insecure roads leading to shopping centres and water points.

Project officer Ms Lilian Bwire said women in Turkana West sub-county along the Uganda border were now getting an opportunity for their voices to be heard.

“Insecurity has denied their children an opportunity to access basic education as there are no early childhood development and education centres. During cross-border peace dialogues among women, they are advocating lasting peace so that schools, hospitals, markets and roads are constructed,” said Ms Bwire.

World Vision and other organizations such as the UN have invested in women empowerment projects in the area but insecurity challenges have persisted.

“With peace, girls in schools such as Kibish Primary will learn in a favourable environment and compete equally with boys. As part of the celebration, we donated sanitary towels to them so that they are hygienically comfortable in class,” said Turkana Governor’s spouse, Lilian Ekamais.

Int’l Peace and Humanity Conference commences in Amman


An article from Jordan Times

The International Peace and Humanity Conference, organised by the Shobak Women’s Charity Association, commenced in Amman on Tuesday (March 7), assembling heads of delegations from several Arab countries.

The three-day conference will address several issues, the foremost of which concerns the role of women and female leadership in promoting a culture of peace, specifically in terms of empowering women and families, redressing family structure as it relates to gender norms, building a model civil society, and accentuating contemporary Arab female role model, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Senator Fadel Hamoud speaks during the International Peace and Humanity Conference, organised by the Shobak Women’s Charity Association, in Amman on Tuesday (Petra photo)

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Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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The conference aims to uphold a culture of peace and peaceful coexistence at the national and global levels, engage all facets of peace and humanitarian efforts, support the democratic process, increase peace and humanitarian initiatives, ensure sustainable development, cooperate with national and international humanitarian organisations, and work cooperatively to provide consultations concerning rights, legal, medical and humanitarian issues.

Attending the conference on behalf of Senate President Faisal Fayez is Senator Fadel Hamoud, who stressed the importance of rejecting hatred and establishing instead a culture of love, compassion and peace – values that stem from the teachings of Islam and can be applied in opposition to obstacles hindering peace.

Chairperson of the conference Basma Habahbeh said the purpose of the event is to underscore the importance of peaceful coexistence between societies, which he noted is the key to security and developing human capital, culturally, economically and socially.

Several heads of participating delegations gave speeches indicating the importance of Jordan’s peace-building role in the region, also noting that His Majesty King Abdullah maintains a firm position in international forums that stresses peace as the only solution to international conflict.

Nigeria: IWD2023 Group Supports Women In Peace Building


An article by Glory Ohagwu in Voice of Nigeria

The USAID-funded Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP) being implemented by Mercy Corps has organised one-day women in peacebuilding virtual conference themed “Women Peace and Security in the Digital Age”  in support of the Women Peace-building Councils in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day.

The virtual convergence which celebrated women for the entrenching culture of peace and promoting gender equitable communities in their communities had participants from Women Peacebuilding Councils across the North West and North Central geopolitical zones of Nigeria deliberating on women’s leadership role in peacebuilding and the need to leverage the digital technologies to accelerate the achievement of the women, peace and security agenda in this digital age.

The women agreed that While  ICT provides a platform for amplifying the voices of women and promoting their greater role in peacemaking and peace-building; despite the important role women play in conflict prevention and peace-building, women still experience entrenched socio-cultural norms and a myriad of factors including poverty, illiteracy and inherent biases limiting women’s ability to access and leverage on the digital platform, to spread peace messaging and advocating for their rights thereby hindering their meaningful participation in peace and security decision making.

They pointed out that even though the digital gender disparity reduces opportunities to unlock technology’s full potential to address women’s peace and security in society, there is no data to show its impact on women’s peace and security agenda. They observed that women’s poor access to digital technology seems to deepen gender inequalities and marginalisation thereby impeding their access to decent and rewarding jobs and valuable information needed to gain social, economic and political empowerment.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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Addressing the virtual converge, David Gatare, CIPP’s Chief of Party at Mercy Corps Nigeria said CIPP has facilitated the establishment of women peace-building councils in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and Kogi states to expand women’s network and influence in peace-building.

“Women’s participation in the digital space could potentially accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment and build an inclusive, equitable and peaceful society,” he added.

Contributing to the discourse,  Zainab Baba, a peace builder and social media influencer said ‘The digital space can better serve as a platform for increasing the visibility of the work of women peacebuilders, especially change the perception about women’s leadership; strengthen the relationship and social networks along lines of division; counter misinformation; advocate for women’s rights and shape peace in the society.”

For, Hajiya Saadatu Aliyu, founder of Shamrock Innovations, “duty bearers need to be deliberate about training, mentoring and increasing school enrolment of a significant number of women and girls in science and technology through scholarships scheme and promote their meaningful engagement in decision making in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”

Key recommendations at the end of the virtual convergence among others include the need to engage civil society organizations and women-led groups in designing and implementing context specific digital literacy training programmes to close gender digital divide to increase the number of women and girls participating in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) decision making and supporting locally-led initiatives focused on building the capacity of young women peace builders to leverage the digital space to counter negative narratives and influence at-risk youth to promote peaceful behaviour and resilient communities, enacting  and enforcing policies and laws that drive the adoption of gender responsive and inclusive Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to promote digital inclusion .

The International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March annually to spotlight the  achievements, challenges and struggles of women around the world.The theme for 2023 DigitALL: Innovaation and technology for gender equality  pushes for greater gender equality in innovation and technology.`

Community Initiatives to Promote Peace (CIPP) is a peacebuilding program that seeks to improve the local community’s ability to address violent extremist recruitment tactics, improve local capacity and skills to manage disputes, strengthen women’s capacities to prevent and resolve conflict.

Women Hold Up Half the Sky


An article from UN Peacekeeping

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, assistant secretary-general for Africa at the United Nations, reflects on several inspiring examples of women overcoming differences and leading movements for peace, gender equality and women’s rights.

In 2015, I became Ghana’s first female ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations  in New York. As we celebrate International Women’s Day  on March 8, I reflect on this life-changing experience.

I remember feeling the thrill of this new recognition in my career, which was applauded by many in Ghana—but also my dismay at the number of people expressing surprise at seeing a woman take on this post.  They thought that New York would be too difficult for me—irrespective of my training in multilateral diplomacy and 26 years in the Ghana Foreign Service—and that it should be a male ambassador instead.

In much of my career, I have had to go the extra mile, and perhaps double of what my male colleagues did, to be recognized as capable. I strongly believed that I could bring the same determination and confidence to bear on the task of representing my country at the U.N. It took five years of hard work in New York but was well worth it.

But the challenges for women do not start or end at the workplace. As the United Nations  assistant secretary-general for Africa, I know the immense challenges women face in conflict situations. But I also have firm belief and appreciation of the important role they play in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and lasting peace.

Yet women face many barriers to their participation in political and peace processes. Some are cultural and others are the result of institutions not making room for them to participate, let alone to lead. This means women are often shut out from conflict resolution and peace negotiations.

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Questions related to this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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In my role at the U.N., I have had the opportunity to visit several countries in Africa affected by conflict. During one such visit to visit Bamako, the capital of Mali, I met women from all over the country who shared with me their experiences and the challenges in making their voices heard. In the country’s initial peace talks in 2012, women were not invited, but they demanded a seat at the negotiating table. This courageous step paved the way for a very different situation today, where women make up 38 percent of the Peace Agreement Monitoring Committee  in Mali. Hearing their inspiring stories and seeing what they achieved, even in the worst possible circumstances,  humbles and inspires me. These women had a vision of peace and fought for their inclusion in efforts to secure that peace and ultimately a better future for their country. 

In South Sudan, we have women like Alokiir Malual  who, after immense efforts and advocacy, made history in 2015 as the first woman to sign a peace agreement. Her signature set a precedent for future women’s representation and participation in peace processes in South Sudan.

On the other side of the border, in Sudan, our political mission facilitated consultations with women’s civil society groups and leaders on bringing the country back to a civilian-led transition. They successfully pushed for women’s rights provisions in the Framework Agreement, signed between civilian and military forces on Dec. 5, 2022, and 15 percent of signatories were women. The hope is that Sudanese women will continue to lead change and bring women’s rights to the negotiating table.

There are countless women’s participation in peace negotiations  brings human security to the fore and is beneficial for the whole of society. Peace is also more likely to last when women are part of the process, and we can rest assured that matters pertaining to the protection of civilians, food security, health and education will be given due primacy.

Women hold up half the sky, and consequently they have a fundamental right to be part of discussions and decision-making that define the future of their families, communities and countries.

The international community has over several decades adopted norms and conventions for women’s inclusion in all aspects of national life. It is now time to live up to those commitments and walk the talk. We need to bring the voices of women to the negotiation table in political and peace processes. We must empower them through capacity-building and provide the support they need to be heard. This is a must for sustaining peace.

Women’s Peace Leadership Programme: Bojana Mumin, Bosnia and Herzegovina


An article from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Bojana Mumin is one of the 12 mentees from around the OSCE area and Afghanistan, participating in the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme. The Programme aims to strengthen the ability of women to meaningfully engage and influence peace processes at all levels. It is a part of the OSCE’s flagship WIN for Women and Men  project, which covers the Networking platform for Women Leaders including Peacebuilders and Mediators. The WIN project works with OSCE-supported networks and gives rise to new networks, fostering women’s participation and leadership, as well as broader men’s engagement in achieving gender equality.

Bojana Mumin (left), during the kick-off week of the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme with Irma Pidtepa, a Mediator and participant from Ukraine. (OSCE/ Vera Djemelinskaia)

An experienced peacebuilder, Bojana has been supporting peacebuilding organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) through her advocacy work at the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, which promotes women’s rights in conflict-affected areas. The work of the Foundation’s 140 local partners span the Middle East and North African region, sub-Saharan Africa, the South Caucasus, and Europe. Bojana is focusing on achieving lasting peace in her own country through the implementation of the Western Balkans EU Advocacy Strategy.

The necessity of continuous learning

I am experiencing the repercussions of what happened 30 years ago on a daily basis. Peacebuilding is more than a profession; it is something to which I am personally connected.

As someone who has been supporting local peacebuilding initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than 16 years, I know that this work, above all, requires motivation. This is not an easy process and very often we feel exhausted. There is a lot of divisive political language, and even hate speech, dominating the public spaces, with peace rhetoric mostly missing from the political agenda. This complicates the work of the peacebuilders and, honestly, it is simply tiring.

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Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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I also constantly need to learn how peacebuilding is approached in different contexts: what are the good practices, and what didn’t work. Unsuccessful stories are especially valuable. I am grateful to be able to pass on these lessons and learn others’ challenges and perspectives within the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme (WPLP). We worked through real-life and hypothetical scenarios, sharing how we would approach the challenge and reflecting on the different solutions. It is a win-win because I see how others find my experience helpful too.

What brings peace that lasts

‘Peacebuilding’ as a word is worn-out in our context. Over the years, there have been different peace initiatives, programmes, and actors coming to do the peacebuilding work and contributing to some extent to creating a better society, but we still live in very divided communities. There are three different narratives in Bosnia and Herzegovina based on ethnicity. Now when I have kids and I realise that if we were not doing this work, one of these narratives would become a part of their education. But now we have actors who offer alternative narratives. I am proud that there is a civil society working on peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that I am part of it.

Through a feminist lens

Being a feminist and a peacebuilding activist is an important part of my identity Being a peacebuilder is not popular, so taking on this identity is quite an achievement for me.

In our country, it is usually seen as something that women work on. During the 90s and early 2000s, peacebuilding was receiving a lot of support from international donors and many men were engaged. However, when donors shifted their focus to other areas, women were the ones who actually stayed in the field. Women were the first peacebuilding actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina: they were the pioneers and now they are the seniors.

Being part of Women’s Peace Leadership Programme

I now have ‘sisters’ from different regions I can reach out to for assistance, but above all, for information – sometimes this is all that is needed. It gives you a different perspective when you read reports and when you hear directly from the people who were there.

Let me give you an example. I tried to understand better the situation in Afghanistan, so I wanted to speak to a local woman who was in the conflict and could share how this experience influenced her and the community. And here I am, speaking in person to one of the WPLP participants from Afghanistan, Elham Kohistani, and other women peacebuilders from so many different regions about their experiences in mediation, leadership and peacebuilding efforts. This is one of the key benefits of being part of this programme: knowing that I can tap into the expertise of this incredible network of women leaders and also offer my support should anyone need it.

Sri Lanka adopts first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security


An article from UN Women

Sri Lanka has adopted its first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), for the period 2023 – 2027 with the support of the Government of Japan and UN Women. The Plan adds to the country’s legal and policy frameworks to protect and empower women in line with international commitments set out in the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 (2000). It also aims to strengthen coordination between stakeholders of the women, peace and security agenda, which is vital to sustainable peace and development in Sri Lanka. 

The plan was approved by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers on 27 February 2023 and ceremoniously launched on 8th March 2023, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. 

The newly adopted National Action Plan was developed through a consultative process with input from provincial and district level public sector officials, civil society, community-based organizations, women leaders and others with direct and diverse experiences of conflict and crises. It was developed with technical support from UN Women as part of a joint partnership between the Government of Japan and the Government of Sri Lanka.  In 2018, the Government of Japan signed a partnership agreement with Sri Lanka under the G7 WPS framework.

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Question related to this article:
Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Speaking on this, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that while the “status of women in the Asian region is not satisfactory, Sri Lankan women are ahead compared to other countries in the region, and efforts will be made to further expand their rights”. He emphasized that the ‘National Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ and the ‘National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security’ will aid in achieving this goal, and the progress made so far was revealed on International Women’s Day. “Sri Lanka will host a meeting of leading women activists from SAARC countries (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) this year to advocate for the inclusion of women’s rights within the organization’s framework. Sri Lanka is committed to working towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas and will take a leadership role in championing the rights of women in the Asian region”.

Highlighting the importance of the National Action Plan, Hon. Geetha Samanmalee Kumarasinghe, State Minister of Women and Child Affairs said: “With the adoption of this action plan, Sri Lanka is equipped for the first time with a policy framework to implement the women, peace and security agenda, which calls for greater participation and representation of women in governance and peacebuilding processes.”  

The National Action Plan further aims to provide targeted support for women who have been and continue to be, directly harmed by conflict, violence and climate insecurity.

In addition, it aims to strengthen the security of marginalized women and girls, and the economic empowerment of women through access to equal opportunities and resources.  

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s progress, H.E. MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, stated: “The Government of Japan welcomes the timely adoption of this National Action Plan, which will help Sri Lanka’s commitments to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through our longstanding partnership with UN Women and the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Japan is committed to supporting the furtherance of the women, peace and security agenda in Sri Lanka.”  

Prashani Dias, Head of Office a.i. at UN Women Sri Lanka, said: “To help the implementation of this important policy framework, UN Women, with support from the Government of Japan, has provided training on women, peace and security to public-sector officials. Through these programmes, work plans have been jointly developed at the district level to address issues that affect the well-being of women and girls during times of crisis.” 

Apart from these efforts, UN Women has strengthened women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship trainings, recognizing that women’s access to employment plays a key role in ensuring their security, and provided women leaders including youth, with skills to promote social cohesion in their communities. 

The adoption of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security marks significant progress in furthering gender-responsive conflict and crisis response, while also strengthening the role of women in peacebuilding and conflict-preventative leadership.