Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

United Nations : UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An action circular from UN Women

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that takes place each year. It commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, indicating that violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide. It was originated by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and this year marks its 30th anniversary. Over 6000+ organizations in approximately 187 countries have participated in the Campaign since 1991, with a reach of 300 million1 people. It continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) and is used as an organizing strategy by individuals, institutions and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

In support of this civil society initiative, under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE Campaign), launched in 2008 is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating VAWG around the world calling for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy and create opportunities for discussion about challenges and solutions.( 1) Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women ACTION CIRCULAR: October/ November 2021 Theme: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence BIMONTHLY ACTI

2021 CONTEXT

According to the latest estimates, nearly 1 in 3 women aged 15 years and older, around the world have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, non-partner sexual violence or both at least once in their lifetime, indicating that levels of violence against women and girls (VAWG) have remained largely unchanged over the last decade.(2) These numbers do not reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be even higher if they included the full continuum of violence that affect women and girls including sexual harassment, violence in digital contexts, harmful practices and sexual exploitation.

COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated all the risk factors for VAWG and reinforced many of the root causes such as gender stereotypes and harmful social norms. It has been estimated that 11 million girls may not return to school because of COVID-19, thereby increasing their risk of child marriage.(3) The economic fallout is expected to push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty in 2021, (4) reversing decades of progress and perpetuating structural inequalities that reinforce VAWG.

In addition to the impact of COVID-19, the global context of violent conflicts and humanitarian crises, including climate related disasters, are affecting more people than ever before, with a disproportionate impact on women and girls, perpetuating all forms of VAWG. While the forms and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls universally experience different forms of violence in public and private settings, in contexts of peace and in contexts of conflict as well as in humanitarian or crises settings. If we want to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind, we need comprehensive and inclusive approaches that can be adapted to rapidly changing contexts, preventing and responding to all forms of VAWG such as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative which is making significant progress in preventing and eliminating VAWG even under the constraints of a pandemic. (5)

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Questions for this article

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

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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This year’s global campaign theme “Orange the World: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN NOW!” will mobilize all UNITE networks, civil society and women’s rights organizations, the UN system, the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, government partners, schools, universities, private sector, sports clubs and associations and individuals to advocate for inclusive, comprehensive and long-term strategies, programmes and resources to prevent and eliminate VAWG in public and private spaces prioritizing the most marginalized women and girls. VAWG is not an inevitable part of our societies. It is preventable and the 16 days of activism this year will be an opportunity to showcase effective strategies and interventions to inspire all actors to scale up what works. It is also an opportunity to promote the leadership of women and girls in their diversity and their meaningful participation in policy making and decision making from global to local levels and to build on the momentum created during the Generation Equality Forum.

MAIN PRINCIPLES OF UNiTE CAMPAIGN ADVOCACY

• Honour and acknowledge women’s movements and their leadership in preventing and ending violence against women and girls.

• ‘Leave No One Behind’: Apply a human rights-based approach and focus attention on the most underserved and disadvantaged groups of women and girls in efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

• Survivor-centred: Take a respectful and ‘do no harm’ approach to the telling and retelling of survivor stories, only with their informed consent and under conditions in which they have agreed. This and the empowerment principles are vital for the engagement of survivor advocates/activists on their own terms. All UNiTE partners must ensure that survivor advocates’ rights, safety, dignity and confidentiality are prioritized and upheld.

• Multi-sectoral: Everyone in society has an important role to play in ending violence against women and girls and we all must work together across sectors to address the various aspects of violence against women and girls.

• Transformative: Fostering critical examination of gender roles, regimes and practices, while seeking to create or strengthen equitable gender norms and dynamics for fundamental, lasting changes for women and girls.

• Elevate the voices of young feminists: While the world’s reviewing progress made over the past 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, it is time to create platforms to elevate voices of the next generation feminists who are shaping their future now. • The colour orange continues to be a key tool unifying all activities to bring global attention to the initiative.

(1) Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)

(2) Violence Against Women Prevalence Estimates, 2018 – World Health Organization, on behalf of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence Against Women Estimation and Data (VAW-IAWGED) (2021).

(3) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Keeping Girls in the Picture (2020); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Impact of the COVID19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage: Pandemic threatens achievement of the Transformative Results committed to by UNFPA (2020).

(4) UN Women, From Insights to Action: Gender equality in the wake of COVID-19 (New York, 2020).

(5) https://www.spotlightinitiative.org. Page | 3

Mexico: Women who weave communities of peace in Chihuahua

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article by Eugenia Coppel in Milenio

Urbivillas del Prado and Riberas del Bravo in Ciudad Juárez illustrate how the strategy of Women Builders of Peace (MUCPAZ) operates, a federal program that by March of this year has reached 107 municipalities in 27 entities.


Until just a year ago, the Urbivillas del Prado subdivision, on the southern outskirts of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, was a group of gray houses, with streets full of rubble, tires and garbage, and without adequate public spaces for meetings between neighbors. . “It was sad because everyone was on her own,” says Mari Velázquez, a teacher who has lived in this neighborhood for 12 years with her husband and her two children.

“Right now it’s another world, it’s totally changed,” says Velázquez, one of the women leaders who has promoted the transformation of her environment, proudly. The most obvious change is the colors that illuminate the facades of about 90 percent of the buildings, which were painted by the community itself, and with special enthusiasm of the girls and boys, says Mari Velázquez.

The strength of the neighborhood organization is also reflected in cleaner streets, in a park without rubble and in the trees planted there; on the newly demarcated soccer field and on the now colorful tires that serve as games for children. Also in the kermesses, collective harvests, piñata workshops, boxing classes, mental health campaigns and initiatives for the prevention of gender violence and addictions, among other activities that began to take place this same year.

For Mari Velázquez, the most important thing that has been generated is the union between neighbors, which grows stronger every day. “Before it was just a greeting and that’s it, but now we have more communication, more friendship; We are committed to working together to seek solutions to the problems we have, working together with women, men, girls and boys, ”says the president of the newly formed Urbivillas coalition.

The former governor of Chihuahua himself, Javier Corral, recognized the efforts of Mari and the entire community in an event held in August 2021, a few weeks before she ended her term.

In front of one of the many walls transformed into multicolored murals, the politician described the subdivision as a “referential model that can serve not only many other areas of Juárez but of the country.”

Corral gave thanks personally for the design of the project, as well as for the coordination of the participating public and private actors to Eunice Rendón, expert in public policy and international consultant on security, migration and bioethics issues.

Eunice Rendón works as an external advisor to governments in the creation of strategies to prevent violence and addictions. One of the federal programs with which she collaborates is Mujeres Constructoras de Paz (MUCPAZ), of which the Urbivilla project is part.

As an activist for the rights of migrants she has implemented projects of the same program in another neighborhood of Juárez, Riberas del Bravo, as well as in municipalities of Oaxaca, Tlaxcala and the State of Mexico.

In an interview, Eunice Rendón explains that she designed a protocol based on the Women Builders of Peace program, where she detailed the step by step to achieve a successful operating experience in any municipality in Mexico. This includes a baseline, a follow-up evaluation and different possible scenarios in the process of articulating a community, in conjunction with municipal, state, federal, private sector and society actors.

Women in peace processes

In the Global Peace Index 2021, Mexico ranks 126th out of a list of 161 countries, with the latter being the most violent.

For Johan Galtung, one of the most important theorists in peace studies and director of the International Peace Research Institute, peace is not only defined as the absence of conflicts, but as the positive transformation of them. Generating positive peace means creating harmonious relationships between two or more parties to the conflict and undertaking community projects.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:

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

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Also, the international community has recognized that women are agents of change and that their participation is essential in peacebuilding processes. In 2000, the United Nations Security Council approved resolution 1325, which urges women to actively participate in achieving lasting peace processes.

The MUCPAZ strategy, which starts from these bases, was launched in 2019 by the National Institute of Women (Inmujeres) and the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP). Its objective is to incorporate a human rights perspective in Mexican municipalities, promote gender equality and empower women to contribute to peace processes.

According to data from the Mexican government, as of March 2021, 217 networks of Women Peacebuilders have been implemented, with the participation of 3,510 women in 107 municipalities and 27 states, with an investment of more than 123 million pesos.

During the inauguration of the program in the Venustiano Carranza mayor’s office, in Mexico City, the head of Inmujeres, Nadine Gasman, emphasized that MUCPAZ consists of preventive work, rather than direct care for victims of gender violence, since that work corresponds to other instances. What the strategy seeks is to influence “the reconstruction of communities and the reestablishment of the social fabric,” said the official.

Some results are already visible in the two neighborhoods of Ciudad Juárez where the pilot projects were launched. Eunice Rendón talks about the various activities that have been carried out in these territories, starting with the main thing, which is the formation of networks of women, but also of men, young people, girls, boys and adolescents.

From there, courses and workshops have been offered on the basic principles of gender, on how to contact various authorities and / or report violence, or on how to carry out productive projects. Through community activities, such as soccer, hip-hop or mechanics, the theme of positive masculinities among young men is introduced.

Both in Urbivillas del Prado, as in Riberas del Bravo – one of the neighborhoods where the highest rates of feminicides and sexual violence are registered in Juárez – the most successful activities have been those that have to do with providing women with tools for their productive development, with courses, workshops, certifications and creation of cooperatives.

“You cannot ask for gender empowerment if women are financially dependent on the aggressor; that is what often slows them down. The other learning is enhanced when there is something that can give them an economic possibility, ”says Eunice Rendón.

Feminist rice pudding

A 40-second video illustrates the type of work that has been done in the Riberas del Bravo neighborhood. In it a group of girls and boys appears singing and dancing a feminist version of a popular children’s round: “Rice pudding / I want to find / a partner who wants to dream / who believes in herself / who goes out to fight / to conquer the dream of more freedom “…

“It is part of the empowerment process,” says Yadira Cortés, coordinator of the Red Mesa de Mujeres, in whose Facebook account the video can be found.

This network is a civil association that since 2004 works for gender equality and non-violence against the women of Ciudad Juárez. Since 2017, it has been present in Riberas del Bravo, where it has focused on the training of women leaders and has just joined the MUCPAZ network.

Cortés explains that the work that she and her colleagues have carried out is very similar to the proposal of the federal program, and considers that by joining this larger network, her intervention methodology has been strengthened and focused. “We were already working on violence prevention and now we are also working on peace-building issues,” says the activist and professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez.

Riberas del Bravo, in the description of Yadira Cortés, is a peripheral colony where there is no industry or medical services; the ambulance does not arrive and the police units almost never pass; the pavement is in poor condition, public transportation is poor and scarce, and there are high rates of drug use and violence.

For this reason, the Red Mesa de Mujeres highlights the importance of training women leaders in this area. “We started with the idea of ​​building a group of ten women and we already have 65 of all ages,” says the activist.

“They are women who are already known in the community: the lady who always talks to the police, the one who reports on support programs or the coordinator of the chapel. Other women identify them and are a point of reference ”.

Finding and activating these natural leaders and helping them continue to work in a self-managed way is the main purpose of MUCPAZ, in the opinion of the specialist Eunice Rendón. The strategy has shown that through them it can have a positive impact on different levels of daily life in the community.

Mexico City successfully holds the World Forum of Cities and Territories of Peace

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Cultura Colectiva (translation by CPNN)

The Head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, was the host of the third World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace. It brought together important world leaders, an important event in the fight against inequality that exists in the XXI century. Within a complex scenario due to the covid-19 pandemic, major proposals were presented in the capital by mayors who were invited from different cities.


Video of conference

The opening session demonstrated the power of women and their influence in the most important positions to run large cities in the world.

One of the main conclusions of the Forum was to recognize that the fight to end social inequality is one of the main strategies to combat violence and achieve global peace. Claudia Sheinbaum, head of government of the Mexico City and host of the event, pointed out that “you cannot talk about peace or ending violence, if you do not fight against inequalities.” Sheinbaum stressed that it is essential to guarantee access to human rights of health, education, security and a healthy environment to improve equity. “If we do not attend to access to human rights, it will be difficult for us to attain a territory of peace.

In the first session of the event, all the participants were women. Claudia Sheibaum (representative of Mexico City), Claudia López (mayor of Bogotá), Ada Colau (mayor of Barcelona), Manuela Carmena (former mayor of Madrid) and Reyna Rueda (mayor of Managua).

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:

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

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Reflections towards the future

“We cannot think of peace without equality. We know that there will be no peace if inequalities are not reduced; that is why we must work to end them,” said Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, ​​Spain, who participated virtually. She stressed that violence is related to all aspects of life. For example, she said, it is impossible to talk about peace in the world without addressing the climate crisis. “Climate change implies population displacement and more violence,” she noted. However, she clarified, global peace begins in the cities themselves; For this reason, it is important not only to actions, but also to raise our voiceto denounce the violation of human rights and support those who suffer injustice.

Claudia López, mayor of Bogotá, pointed out that Colombia has been the only country in Latin America affected by an internal armed conflict in the recent century. Despite this, she highlighted the work done to achieve the peace agreements that ended the conflict. “We knew that as long as the conflict with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) occupied the epicenter of Colombian politics, there was no way for the causes of women, equity, the environment and other issues to take place,” she said. She pointed out that reconciliation was important since it not only meant a peace agreement, but also to bring tranquility to all Colombians in all areas. “But for this, it is necessary to attend to the social demands for equity, justice and opportunities.”

Finally Reyna Rueda, mayor of Managua in Nicaragua, praised the role of women in current politics. “Obviously there is a lot to do, but women are working on full and comprehensive development,” she said. She stressed that all the inhabitants of the planet must be promoters of peace: “We must promote it, strengthen it, and leave indelible marks for future generations.”

The World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace began as the World Forum on Urban Violence, in Madrid, Spain, and has now become a process of global and collective reflection that seeks to strengthen peacebuilding from the local spheres. For 2021, Mexico City is the headquarters of its third edition.

(Editor’s note: It was decided that the Fourth edition of the Forum will take place in Bogota, Colombia.)

Cameroon: Peace action: tribute to Mirabelle Lingom and Confort Tamasang

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Cameroun Actuel

Women’s rights organizations, including the pioneer WILPF Cameroon, gathered within the Consultation Platform “Cameroon Women for National Dialogue”, organized a workshop on September 28, 2021 in Douala. to monitor and evaluate their actions .

Created on September 10, 2019, after the announcement of the national dialogue by the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, the Women’s Consultation Platform for the National Dialogue was set up and organized with other partners, consultations of women’s associations and groups in the country and in the diaspora to discuss the process to be taken collectively to make the voice of women heard during the national dialogue. This pre-dialogue consultation was in line with the National Action Plan implemented in line with Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Following the GDN, the platform embarked on a new advocacy for the holding of a new national dialogue that is more inclusive of the main stakeholders and that takes more account of the voice of women.

To this end, the convention organized by this platform appeared to be an extraordinary opportunity, a real catalyst that could have favored the government’s capitalization of initiatives such as the “Cry of Cameroon women”.

From then on, WILPF Cameroon carried out a gender analysis of conflicts, which helped them to put in place a process towards peace with the support of its members. So far, the results of the analysis have shown that women support each other in the context of conflict in Cameroon. Notwithstanding a few obstacles, the platform got involved in activities despite the difficult context marked by an increase in killings in Cameroon and fewer opportunities for solutions.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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Out of the crisis through dialogue

The members of this platform continue to lose their brothers and sisters because of gender-based violence and war. For Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, president of WILPF Cameroon and coordinator of the platform, “the workshop to evaluate the actions of this platform aims to proceed with a better structuring, coordination and also to question our associative commitment. That’s why we thought about enlisting the support of a consultant to discuss the ins and outs of our problems as members of civil society organizations and platforms.”

Regarding issues that affect women, the platform believes that the government must, among other things: put in place measures to address the issue of impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence in a sustainable manner; concretize the institutionalization of peace education in order to promote a culture of peace in and outside school; institutionalize a simplified procedure for accessing legal birth certificates and national identity cards destroyed as a result of the crisis; improve women’s access to property; make arrangements for the establishment of a structure specializing in trauma in order to deal with the problems of sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts, etc …

End conflicts

Thanks to the support of development partners and the government, women’s movements have been structured to create more and more spaces for women. But with the rise of violence and crises in recent years in Cameroon, women have regularly risen to ask for peace.

In this case, on September 28, members of the platform “Cameroon Women for National Dialogue” recalled that this workshop was also organized for survivors and victims. In particular, thoughts are with Mirabelle Lingom and Confort Tamasang, who have paid the price for gender-based violence respectively.

“These lives are being lost for nothing, as voices are raised to call for inclusive dialogue to end conflict and combat gender-based violence.” concluded Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, coordinator of the platform.

Fatima Al-Ansar Describes Her Vision While Launching a “Urgent Appeal” to All Malian Organizations Working in the Field of Conflict Resolution, Mediation and the Prevention of Violent Extremism to “Unite Their Efforts”

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Bamada Net

On the sidelines of the conference-debate on “religions, secularism and citizenship: what are the stakes for Mali? », the new director of Timbuktu Institute-Mali, gave us the first interview since taking office last week. At the head of this research-action structure, advocating the taking into account of endogenous resources and the experimentation of agile approaches in a crisis context, Fatima al-Ansar sets out her vision while launching an “urgent appeal” to all organizations of Malian women working in the field of conflict resolution, mediation and prevention of violent extremism to “unite their efforts within the framework of an inclusive coalition of actors”.


Photo of Fatima Al-Ansar from Peacetalks

The Independent: You have just been appointed to head the Think Tank, Timbuktu Institute, which is an African Center for Peace Studies. What is the scope of the establishment of this structure in Mali, especially as there are a number of other organizations also involved in this issue?

Fatima Al-Ansar: This approach is in line with the conference-debate that we organized on Saturday September 25th. Before the creation of the Timbuktu Institute, when the various actors, national, regional or international met and consulted, they all deplored either the insufficiency of endogenous capacities or their non-development in the search for a solution to conflicts or the prevention of crises in Africa. Considering this delay in these efforts and also the deplorable scarcity of forward thinking frameworks promoting endogenous and inclusive solutions, Timbuktu Institute wants to be a regional instrument capable of compensating for this lack.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

Can a culture of peace be achieved in Africa through local indigenous training and participation?

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L’Indép: So what will be your magic recipe to achieve it when you know others have tried it before you?

F.A: It should be noted that the vocation of the Timbuktu Institute is the training of new generations in innovative methods and approaches in promoting the culture of peace as well as the capacity building of actors who can develop public policies. We look for endogenous dimension of solutions, but this does not prevent us from working with international partners on issues related to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, political violence, identity, even religious, etc. Considering our past rich with inputs from many sources, we believe that approaches are available today that can accelerate our process of reconciliation.

L’Indép: Since the outbreak of the multidimensional crisis in Mali in 2012, we have heard so many declarations of good intentions and wishful thinking. What are your assets in achieving the objectives set, namely the return of peace?

F.A: The difference is that the installation of the Institute in our country coincides with a critical moment, a turning point where we have no choice but to move forward or expose the country to an inextricable crisis in addition to the current difficulties. In fact, in my vision at the head of Timbuktu Institute-Mali, I am campaigning with Mali’s international partners to construct solutions with us that take our concerns into account.

In this spirit of a holistic and inclusive approach, our first program, which will soon be launched, is entitled “The Word to Malians: for reconciliation.” It is fully in line with strategic documents such as the National Reconciliation Strategy and the one on reconciliation and prevention of violent extremism that was recently validated. The failure of nation building strategies in Afghanistan reminds us that we must listen our own people and not impose paradigms devised elsewhere.

L’Indép: In your remarks, you put forward the idea of ​​launching a large coalition of partnerfs engaged research and action for endogenous solutions. What does it consist of?

F.A: You know, there is too much dispersion of precious efforts by the research-action structures and by Malian civil society organizations. More and more, we find a real desire for synergy. The Timbuktu Institute seeks to give substance to this desire for unity which is emerging. After making contact with many of these actors in all regions of Mali, I am starting with my team, next week, a series of meetings with organizations sharing this vision. I think now is the time to act. We must build these synergies to boost inclusive endogenous initiatives, promote them and support them through strategic thinking.

For me, this is not at odds with international cooperation; it is a simple promotion of the solutions that the Malians themselves can offer. I believe much more in this empowerment of thinking about our problems than in the desire to play on international rivalries or import conflicts. The people of Mali and their desire for peace and reconciliation are part of the solution. We need to gather together around the table of solutions and move towards reconciliation. We have the resources if we can cope with political crises. All that is needed is the will.

Israeli and Arab women demand peace between Israelis and Palestinians

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Prensa Latina

Some 1,000 Israeli and Arab women marched in Jerusalem to demand peace between Palestinians and Israelis, whose Government currently keeps the door closed to any negotiation.


Click on image to enlarge

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Question related to this article:
 
Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Convened by Women Wage Peace, the women on Thursday (September 21) formed a human chain along the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem before assembling for a rally in Jaffa Gate square, The Jerusalem Post informed.

Tel Aviv’s continued military operations failed to achieve the promised security, Women Wage Peace member Nadia Hamdan stressed, referring to the Israel Defense Forces’ successive attacks on Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip.

Founded in the summer of 2014 following the Israeli attack on Gaza, Women Wage Peace has some 45,000 members in the Israeli state.

Since Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office in June, he has repeatedly refused to negotiate with the Palestinian National Authority and has shown his opposition to establish a state for that people.

United Nations: Strengthening women’s meaningful participation in peace processes

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

Worldwide, complex conflicts and humanitarian crises continue to ravage communities and hinder the overall well-being and prosperity of societies. Women are often the most impacted by these crises, bearing the brunt of conflict and paying a higher price of the devastation – from increased gender discrimination and violence, to the waning of gender-sensitive structures and programming. Still, they remain largely excluded from participating in peace processes, despite overwhelming evidence showing that women’s involvement in peacebuilding and mediation leads to lasting, positive peace that goes well beyond just the silencing of guns.


Left: Kawkab Al-Thaibani. Right: Odi Lagi. Photos courtesy of each.

Although important strides have been made since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, women’s direct participation and representation in formal peace processes continues to be the one area that lags behind in the implementation of the  empowering women leaders to participate in peacebuilding becomes increasingly crucial. Women who participate in peace processes tend to represent broader and more diverse constituencies, ensuring a range of views and interests are represented and peace processes are fully democratized.

Using digital and online tools to foster women’s participation in peacebuilding

Amera Malek is a Syrian activist in the field of Women, Peace and Security and, as the director of MAUJ for Development (previously Radio Souriat), she is familiar with digital technologies and the use of tools to enhance women’s voices and gather support. “We launched our online radio in 2014 as a media initiative and platform that provides a voice for Syrian women, tackling issues affecting them – from honor killings to sexual harassment, and more – and addressing wider societal problems from a gender perspective,” says Malek. “We started out by broadcasting programmes and live talks, bringing together women from all walks of life and taking into account their specific needs and situations.”

As the Syrian conflict went on and power cuts and other disruptions became more frequent, Radio Souriat turned to social media as a new outlet for their activism. “In complex, conflict-afflicted contexts such as the Syrian one, new tools must be deployed to foster participation and mobilize a country-wide support base. On top of our radio work, we’ve taken on producing visual and audio assets for dissemination on social media, which has enabled us to continue to reach out to and engage with communities.”

In June 2020, Radio Souriat changed its name to MAUJ for Development, a community-based, not-for-profit foundation guided by feminist principles. MAUJ works on four strategic programmes: supporting pluralism and community cohesion, promoting women participation in public life, producing gender-sensitive media content, and ensuring sustainable resources. From its headquarters in al-Nabk, MAUJ reaches women across the country and beyond, supporting them to voice their opinions and be informed on issues that directly affect their lives.

While digital tools have created an unprecedented opportunity to democratize peace efforts, making them more transparent and inclusive, some issues remain to be addressed. “We see that women are more likely to participate in online discussions because they can do so anonymously and flexibly, balancing their care burdens,” says Malek. “Yet, we must ensure these methods are underpinned by robust gender analysis. We must continue to leverage the huge potential of digital tools for constituency-building while ensuring that existing discrepancies in accessing digital tools do not further inequalities.”

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Bringing together women civil society actors and political representatives

Kawkab Al-Thaibani is the co-founder of Women4Yemen, a network of women working in media, human rights and civil society, which mobilizes and empowers women to foster peace and achieve stability for Yemen. As part of her work, she has been seeking to close the gap between women’s grassroots initiatives for peace and decision-making spaces.

“Yemeni women are facing huge challenges to access negotiating space and get a seat at the peace table,” says Al-Thaibani. “As the conflict in Yemen continues, women’s representation has decreased quite considerably: for the first time in 20 years, women are absent from the newly formed Cabinet. In this context, it is vital that political leaders expand their constituencies and engage closely with civil society to make sure women’s voices are heard.”

“Yemeni women are the carriers of peace and have been instrumental in leading the country to a more stable and peaceful transition,” she adds. “Yet, we don’t have full legitimacy to support peacemaking initiatives and be involved in the peace process in a meaningful way. More work needs to be done at the government and institutional levels to connect women’s grassroots movements with formal representatives who sit at the decision-making table.”

“While it’s important that representatives build strong civil society constituencies, this per se is not enough. To be credible and for constituencies to be strengthened, politicians must ensure that they represent the interests and views of their communities in peace talks, and that they make themselves accountable for shaping the negotiating agenda, ensuring the requests of women are being dealt with.”

Introducing special temporary measures to increase women’s representation in peacebuilding

Odi Lagi, Program Director of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI), Nigeria, highlights the importance and challenges of gender quotas and other temporary special measures in fostering more gender-inclusive peace processes. “I believe the introduction of quotas as a temporary measure to achieve gender equality in political participation is very much necessary,” says Lagi. “We underestimate the importance for women and girls of seeing women in leadership positions and the power of role-modelling: seeing women in power is the first step toward becoming one. However, quotas also have limitations – their introduction by governments has increasingly become a box-ticking exercise rather than a tool to foster positive change. We need to set a 50/50 benchmark if we truly want to see structural transformation in decision-making spaces.”

In Nigeria, a 30 per cent quota for representation in political processes was introduced in the early 2000s. Since then, women’s participation has been declining and, as conflict escalated, women’s voices have been increasingly ignored. “While instruments like quotas have strong transformative potential, there is also a clear danger that they might restrict greater women’s participation and be used by conflict parties as bargaining chips to appeal to minority and women’s groups, while in fact making little progress in advancing meaningful political inclusion,” adds Lagi.

About the Global Convening

From 7-27 July 2021, UN Women, in partnership with CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, hosted the global convening on “Gender-Inclusive Peace Processes: Strengthening Women’s Meaningful Participation through Constituency Building.” The conference explored good practices and strategies for gender-inclusive constituency building and the links between constituency building and women’s meaningful participation in formal peace processes, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It was made possible through a long-term collaboration with, and financial support from, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Visit the conference public dashboard on SparkBlue for more information 

African Union: Interview with Special Envoy for Women Peace & Security

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

In line with the implementation of various programs by the African Union marking 2019 as the year dedicated to refugees, returnees and internally displaced people and galvanizing global visibility on the issues of forced displacements in Africa, the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Mme. Bineta Diop shares the findings of her visit to the “Triangle of Death. In the first of a two-part series of “the plight of women and girls as forcibly displaced persons; deliberate actions towards sustainable solutions”,’ she also gives insights into why women and girls are worst affected in the appalling situation of forcibly displaced persons.

1. The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. 
What unique challenges confront women and girls who are refugees, returnees and IDPs

Migration is the fabric of more inclusive, tolerant and diverse societies. Migration has over the years, enriched cultures and civilizations, with migrants contributing to major advancements in their host societies, hence, the African Union’s call for ease of regional trade, free movement and the introduction of the African Passport, all of which are flagship projects of Agenda 2063. The migration of persons then, only becomes an issue of concern in the context where people are forced to flee their homes. Forced displacement is the worst kind of people’s movement as it means not only losing a home, but entails a disruption of one’s dreams, plans, identity and moving to unfamiliar territories with hopelessness and fear.

The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. There is a pervasive culture of discrimination, and sexual and gender-based violence are a daily reality. These vices destroy the lives of our women and girls and has devastating consequences to the society at large. As you know, rebuilding a psychologically broken person is not as easy as rebuilding infrastructure. Often times these scars remain for life thereby affecting future generations as women are the nurturers of the young.

Moreover, women, children and family members of actors in the conflict situations are more prone to becoming targets and weapons of war. The Chibok girls are a case in point. In many cases this happens to a whole community of wives and children who are left behind by their husbands and sons.

In 2017 July, I was part of the UN-AU high level Solidarity Mission to the Republic of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In both countries, the delegation met grass root women leaders, and the Chibok Girls, who have been rescued from Boko Haram.  There are big camps for IDP’s including the Dalori camp in Nigeria, and the Mugunga IDP camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We held a focus group discussion with women IDPs to further gain understanding and learn from their experiences: which are very similar. The women end up trading sex for food, or end up being raped. It is not only sexual violence that they face.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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During the same mission we visited an area commonly known as -‘Triangle of Death’- i.e. Beni, Ouicha and Bunia, where we met women refugees living in the most atrocious situations. They had settled, built their huts and were looking after their kids. Earlier that week, they had gone out to fetch firewood and water, and upon their return they saw from afar smoke and the ruins of their huts. Militia men had come and destroyed the whole camp and moved on. This is not uncommon in camps. Women are double victims and the cycle goes on, which is really tragic.

2. Geographically, which areas face these challenges and why?

It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region.

In Africa, recent data shows that the continent hosts at least 6.2 million refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover, the number of IDPs is ever increasing and currently stands at over 16 million. These people are distributed throughout Africa, but mostly in the Sahel, Central Africa, in the Horn of Africa and other volatile places on the continent, such as Libya.  One unfortunate fact is that the trend of people’s displacement and sexual violence worsens as the conflict goes on. It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region. Currently, the G5 is suffering from violent extremism, with the Boko Haram and other violent extremist groups finding their breeding ground and transferring their terrorist activities into neighboring countries thereby destabilizing the region.  

3. Why should forcibly displaced African women and girls residing outside the continent look forward to returning back home?

Despite the common perception and depiction that African migrants and refugees move mostly to Europe, statistics indicate that more than half of migrants and refugees remain on the continent. At the global scale, Africa hosts a third of the world’s refugees and IDPs. This fact has to be interrogated in view of the fact that the host countries host them at great cost to their fragile economies. Moreover, there seems to be fatigue on the part of partners who are not so willing to support the host governments financially, or take on refugees as third country hosts.  Therefore, it is imperative that our solutions be inward looking.

These movements are not necessarily, motivated by pull factors but rather by the push factors. These are mainly insecurity- conflict, poverty and climate change. Devastating droughts have led to refugees crossing onto neighboring countries. This understanding helps us to prioritize our strategy. Women and children are running away in search of safety and security. Therefore, the best way to secure the women and children is to ensure sustainable peace, which in turn will assure development.

It is important to keep in mind that the other face of a migrant and or refugee is that of the youth. The youth, and here I’m referring specifically to the migrants, leave their home countries aspiring for better socio-economic conditions and the potential for access to education and job opportunities. Creating a peaceful environment therefore needs an all-inclusive cross cutting peace building and reconciliatory process where women, youth and other victims are represented. Such dialogue and reconciliation platforms and infrastructure, as well as youth employment has to be prioritized at all levels, including under the AU-UN Joint framework. 

In the second part of this series, Mme. Bineta Diop shares her insights into the synergy in interventions to address the challenges that remain, and how to avert an emergence of new crises. The second part will be published in the July edition of the AU Monthly Newsletter.

A reflection contributions by African women to peace and security agenda in the continent

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

The African Union (AU) advocates for the meaningful participation and leadership of women and their efforts towards silencing the guns, enhancing good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, the rule of law towards a peaceful and secure Africa as outlined in Agenda 2063. In recognition of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa, the African Union and the United Nations will publish a commemorative book to celebrate the contribution of women in achieving Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 and as part of the activities for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security

In July 2019, The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) launched the call for nominations of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa. The selected women will be featured in an upcoming commemorative book set to be launched in the year 2020. View the Nominations Page Here

Twenty (20) African women will be featured in the book. A chapter will be dedicated to each woman to share her story or contribution to either of the four pillars of Resolution 1325 namely; prevention, protection, participation and/or relief and recovery as part of the peace and security activities.

The book aims to send a message of encouragement to women across our continent and in the rest of the world, by reflecting the exceptional stories and contributions of women to peace and security on the continent and serve as a learning experience and motivation to other women, especially young women involved in mediation, peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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The commemorative book will be launched at the margins of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of State and Government of the African Union (AU Summit), scheduled for February 2020 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will also align with the launch of the African Union theme of the year 2020 on Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

The AU’s commitment to promoting women’s participation in the peace and security agenda and in Africa’s overall development is demonstrated in its policy formulation and allocation of resources – human, institutional and financial- towards attaining gender equality and women’s empowerment, as a critical goal and strategy in the realisation of Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 that recognises the centrality of women in Africa’s development. These efforts also act as a catalyst the achievement of the goals of UN  Security Council Resolution 1325 to further drive the women agenda in the peace and security architecture.

In 2014, Mme. Bineta Diop  was appointed as the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security mandated to promote and elevate the voices of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as advocate for the protection of their rights, including putting an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Her efforts are also complemented by other mechanisms such as the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation – commonly known as FemWise-Africa. FemWise-Africa has vigorously mobilised women and girls from all over the continent and the Diaspora as it aims to promote and professionalise the role of African women in mediation processes, conflict prevention and peace-making efforts. 

Over the years, Africa has also developed strong, progressive and articulate policies to support the commitment towards the realisation of real transformation for gender equality and women’s empowerment. To ensure effective assessment of, and reporting on the delivery of the commitments at the continental, regional and national levels in Africa, the AU Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa is a key reference tool and it provides twenty-eight (28) indicators for tracking and reporting on the implementation of the WPS Agenda. 

Read- Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa.
 
For More Information, read : CONTINENTAL RESULTS FRAMEWORK

United Nations: Landmark gender equality forum concludes with concrete commitments, plan to advance parity by 2026 

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the United Nations

With the chief of the UN’s gender empowerment agency declaring that women are still “sitting in the corridors when men are inside at the table negotiating peace”, the historic Generation Equality Forum  in Paris concluded on Friday [July 2] with new commitments designed to address that, and other injustices.


Photo: UN Women

Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, civil society and others, to help fuel a new global five-year action plan to accelerate true gender parity, by 2026.  
“The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective”, said  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. 

The Forum has been held at a critical moment, as the world assesses the disproportionate and damaging impact of the  COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls. 

Gender equality advocates took the opportunity to press for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds. 

Timely commitments  

The $40 billion in investments represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s and girls’ rights, as lack of financing has been a major reason for slow progress in advancing gender equality and in enacting the women’s rights agenda of the milestone 1995 Beijing Conference, according to UN Women.
  
Governments and public sector institutions have committed to $21 billion spending on gender equality investments, the private sector $13 billion and philanthropy $4.5 billion.
  
UN entities, international and regional organizations committed an aggregate of $1.3 billion.  

“The Forum’s ecosystem of partners – and the investments, commitments and energy they are bringing to confront the greatest barriers to gender equality – will ensure faster progress for the world’s women and girls than we have seen before”, said the head of UN Women. 

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(Click here for the article in French.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Multilateral approach
 
Many organizations have made strong policy and program commitments, including 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations.  

Hosting the event, the French Ambassador and Secretary-General of the Forum, Delphine O, said the it had “reversed the priorities on the international agenda and made gender equality, for too long underestimated, a long-term issue for the international community, along with climate, education and health. France will continue to be at the forefront to accelerate gender equality progress”. 

Others speak out 

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Anne Hathaway, gave her personal commitment to “continue to be a global advocate for the legal and policy changes that will empower both women and men to begin the equal distribution of care responsibilities that will help change our world”. 

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who now heads the US international development agency, USAID, offered “a simple message, informed by decades of evidence: if you want peace in this world, trust women to deliver it”. 

African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi 
Gumbonzvanda, said: “This week, I relived the experience of 1995, when I was a young women’s rights activist at the Beijing Conference…Now it’s time to invest in girls and young women even more – for resources to reach rural and marginalized communities, for technology for public good and available to all, and for Member States’ greater accountability to human rights of women and girls”. 

Taking the lead 

Over the past three days, the Forum engaged nearly 50,000 people in a mainly virtual format to rapidly advance of gender justice.  
It launched a  Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality  designed by six Action Coalitions, partnerships that have identified the most critical actions required to achieve gender equality, ranging from gender-based violence and technology to economic and climate justice.  

The Forum also launched a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, and announced new gender equality initiatives focused on health, sports, culture, and education. 

UN Women will maintain a critical role driving the Forum’s 5-year action plan, overseeing the implementation of commitments to ensure accountability and progress. 

“Together we have mobilized across different sectors of society, from south to north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality”, said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)