UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security have helped focus attention on the role of women in peace negotiations and the limited presence of women at the peace table. At the same time women peace builders play a crucial role in building peace at the local level. One of the ways that women peace-builders play this crucial role is through the creation of a culture of peace; whether through women working together across battle lines to ensure live saving support to families; or focusing on practical solvable issues on the ground or by other means. 

This important role and the lessons learnt from these experiences deserve more attention. We are interested in learning more about what works at the local level. How have women peace builders contributed to change. What works and how can local experiences be fed into regional or national peace-building efforts? 

Please answer the following questions:

  1. What good examples are there of women’s engagement in local peacebuilding efforts? What is different about these examples? Why did they work? What helped make them work? What didn’t work? 
  2. How have women managed to engage in local political decision-making post-conflict? What effect has that had on others’ lives? 
  3. How do you prevent the return to traditional norms after conflicts end? 
  4. What role has creating a culture of peace played? 
  5. What examples are there of imaginative alternatives that help create a culture of peace? What helped make them work? What didn’t work? 
  6. Was there any outside support that was vital to ensuring women’s engagement? If so, what can we learn from the timing, duration and how that support was given? What support might have helped but wasn’t forthcoming? What support was counter-productive and why? 
  7. How can we ensure that the needs and views of the most marginalized are included? What good examples are there of including disabled women? LGBTQI communities?

Comments (36)

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Hello everyone:

Thank you so much for taking the time and participating in this discussion this week. There is a lot of in depth knowledge and understanding on WPS agenda and matters among you all and I am hopeful that these perspectives and recommendations will make its way to policy discussions and interventions at the state and UN levels. 

I would like to refer the questions on sharing experiences from Balkans and Europe that friends like Petar and Melica since my experience comes mainly from South Asia. 

This discussion started with questions around global experiences around experiences of local peace building interventions, and lessons learned from those experiences, and women's engagement in political settings in post conflict situations considering the cultural and traditional norms. At the same time discussing the culture of peace amidst conflict and violence is also a central debate within the local peace building interventions. The responses from most of you has focused on your local and then global experiences in peace building, but also many of you raised important policy issues around connecting poverty reduction and women's role in peace building. I very much appreciate the in-depth analysis that came from Swarna Rajagopalan particularly on how women's daily resistance to conflict and violence are the building blocks of working towards a culture of peace in any society. 

This discussion will continue and I hope you will continue the discussion with the new moderators this week as well. All the best, Wazhma 

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Hello everyone: 

I am glad and honoured to join this group. Community based peace building has been my passion from the time that I was a young girl working with refugee women and children in Pakistan. My experiences of engaging with local communities, especially women and girls, providing them with skills and platforms indicate that when women and girls know ways to resolve conflict in a nonviolent manners, she can influence the family and community. I've been part of scores of local and national dialogues where women took the lead of engaging men and tribal leaders and eventually influenced the conflict in their villages and communities. Most of my work has been from Pakistan and Afghanistan where we have active conflict going on so I am sure there are other contexts and settings where you have either similar or different experiences and outcomes. We hope to hear those and create a dialogue where the impact of our work can be impacted. Wazhma 

Mary

Dear Wazhma Jan.

Thank you for inviting me to this interesting discussion. For me having worked for women’s protection for years, peace comes when communities are able to find non violent solutions to their problems. For us in Afghanistan, the major issue has been the increased violence that halted our lives and it continues to happen. Women’s lives and bodies are battlefield, just days back infrants and pregnant mothers were shot dead  in a maternity hospital  in Kabul. We are mobilizing for a ceasefire right now in Afghanistan however our understanding is that we won’t have any political peace if communities are not at peace with each other.

 

in peace

Mary

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Dear Mary Akarmi:

Thank you for sharing your perspectives on local peace building as a prerequisite for political peace considering the increased level of violence on civilians in Afghanistan. Women's protection is an important element of the peace building and the overall WPS agenda and without protection for women from gender based violence. Thank you for your work and continued commitment. 

Samira

Hello everyone, Thank you Wazhma for inviting me as a thought leader and allowing me to share my insight. I appreciate it. Also congratulations to everyone affiliated with this initiative. It is absolutely crucial time to address the impact of UNSCR 1325 after 20 years.

A bit about myself, I am Samira Hamidi and currently working as Regional Campaigner with Amnesty International. Since 2002, I have worked with various national and international organizations focusing on women, peace and security.

Women in Afghanistan have continuously played an active and effective role in peace building and conflict resolution. I have worked with women peace builders from 34 provinces who come with massive experience and local conflict resolution ideas and solutions. I remember hearing from women peace builders from most remote and insecure provinces who had managed to speak to the female family members of Taliban and through them had passed their messages on why their village and district should not be attacked by Taliban.

Women peace building role while is important have remained unrecognized by states especially in country like Afghanistan. Unfortunately, despite of national and international obligations, there is lesser recognition and opportunity given to women in Afghanistan in general but specially in peace and conflict resolution area. There is also a huge cultural and traditional thoughts that men have fought the wars and they should address peace too. There are examples from some of government institutions working on peace who have questioned the participation of women in those platforms even.

To conclude, I believe women are untapped resources across to the globe and in countries affected by conflict. There should be more opportunities to women peace builders as mediators, negotiators, peace educators so change the mentality that women have less to say about peace. Women work at local level can only be recognized if they are giving the opportunity and this is something that focusing on UNSCR 1325 can address.

Thank you, Samira

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Dear Samira:

Thank you for responding to the first question. Your experiences of building local women peace builders is of huge importance for the discussion on local peace building. Skills and abilities in conflict resolution and understanding the role that women in traditional and emerging roles can play in resolving local conflicts, is key to build peace locally. We have similar experiences at WPSO-Afghanistan where local women peace builders have been provided with skills, platforms and also advocacy opportunities to impact local governance. 

Zarqa

I am Zarqa yaftali, Director of women and Children legal research foundation. I am torching upon the questions that how we can preserve the currents achievements and prevent return of social Norms during the post peace.

I believe that social norms are the root bed of conflicts and these norms are institutionalized with a vast period of time and believe that preventing its return for the post conflict period requires significant attention to continue implementing programs focussing on the social norms and peace efforts.

This also employs on women's participation in the official structure and peace process. Social norms has been the main barrier towards achieving this objective. We have made it possible by continued awareness raising and advocacy initiatives. Advocacy efforts paved  the way for inclusion of women and awareness raising mobilized women,s engagement  in public spaces.

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Dear Zarqa :

You've addressed an important perspective around peace building and that is the traditional norms impacting national level peace processes, with a focused experience from Afghanistan. 

Adjoa Gzifa

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts on such an important topic. I am honored and humbled to participate in the discussion. Living as an African American in America, I have seen and been subjected to an enormous amount of racism and disenfranchisement. I am passionate about making sure people with disabilities are included in all aspects of life, especially the youth who have a limited voice and depend on others to speak for them.

People with disabilities and the LGBTQ communities are the most marginalized communities. While there are many advocacy groups working on behalf of these groups, it is important for us to continue to raise our voices in support of their efforts to make sure these groups are represented at the table when decisions are being made. People in these groups face a plethora of barriers when attempting to negotiate on their own. Education and activism by the individual, the group and their advocates is primary.

Belinda Hlatshwayo Moderator

Dear Adjoa,

Thank you for sharing these great insights on such a pertinent topic. People with disabilities and LGBTQI communities continue left out of decision-making platforms. You mentioned the work of advocacy groups as vital to ensuring that these voices are heard. Sustained education and advocacy are crucial. Do you perhaps, have any best practice examples of where the advocacy elements you mentioned led to greater inclusion of disabled women or LGBTQI communities in decision-making roles? It would be great to hear from you, and learn from your experience in this area.

Adjoa Gzifa

Belinda Hlatshwayo 

Thank you for responding to my statement.

I have worked with youth vulnerable groups, specifically, youth with disabilities and LGBQT youth for over 25 years. I have listened to and heard their concerns. I have been an advocated for these two populations in the world of work.  Just because a person has a disability or is LGBQT does not mean they should be treated differently. They are entitled to the same rights as those who do not present with limitations.  

In my work with youth in these two categories, I was afforded the opportunity to sit at the table of government and policy makers to ensure that these groups were afforded opportunities to be educated, work and thrive as human beings. Being at the table with other like minded individuals enabled us to convince the powers that be that these groups must be represented in all aspects of life.  We were heard and changes have been instituted to make sure they are included. We were able to establish a youth council with representation from these groups who brought their issues to the table and effected changes in policies. 

Ajmal N. Safi

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts on such an important topic. 

The role of Afghan women in all walks of life is very small and always overlooked, especially in remote areas of the country. I think more needs to be done in the field of public awareness and the importance of the role of women in politics and the peace building process, so that women are aware of their Islamic, civic and human rights obligation. Once they are aware of their rights and civic duties, they will be encouraged to take an active part in the peace process. Indeed, Afghan women should be told that they are most affected by the loss of their families’ males i.e., (Father, brother & husbands or sons), in the conflict who are usually supporting the family financially in most remote areas of the country. As result, women and children will suffer the most which is the reality on the ground.

In recent years, some work has been done in this direction, but it has been more focused on the capital Kabul and regional provinces, but these efforts should be focused and expanded to remote areas of the country which are more exposed to conflict.

Belinda Hlatshwayo Moderator

Dear Ajmal,

Thank you for sharing this often overlooked approach. As you pointed out, some work has been done at the provincial level, but interventions have been focused on the capital. We do need a whole-of-society approach that engages communities from the local to the national level. There have been a few women's networks working in remote areas. Would you perhaps have any examples of strategies which have increased women's awareness and/or capacity to their rights at the local level? Would be great to hear more about this aspect.

Many thanks,

Ajmal N. Safi

Dear Belinda,

Based on my experience, there are two strategies that will be effective in increasing women’s awareness and capacity to their right.

1) Literacy programs

2) Economic Empowerment

If Afghan women are educated and financially empowered, they will have the ability to talk about their rights at home, village, and their communities. The economic empowerment programs will enable women to be more active in the communities and also would be able to support their families financially. If women contribute  or support her family financially, she will have a say at home and at her community. 

Thanks,

Ajmal

 

Rehab Al-Sanabani

Greetings from Yemen.

Women peace builders play a crucial role in building peace at the local level. One of the ways that women peace-builders play this crucial role is through the creation of a culture of peace; whether through women working together across battle lines to ensure live saving support to families; or focusing on practical solvable issues on the ground or by other means. 

For instance, In the past few years, Yemeni women has been trained to resolve conflicts of natural resources. This indicate that Yemeni women have a big influence on their communities. Yemeni women has been trained on peace building and conflict resolutions aspects, communication and negotiation skills, mediation, etc.

Many assessment were conducted in Yemen to envisaged on women role in easing and/or increasing the conflict and the possibility of engaging women in peace building. it was concluded that women play a major role in both easing and increasing conflicts as the can affect the men of their households positively or negatively. By training women on the positive impact of resolving the conflict and introduce them to the formal and informal ways of building the peace, they can be an active agent to build the peace and increase the social cohesion of their communities. 

Politically, more awareness on women human rights and women role and influence in their communities are still needed to engage women in the country level. 

 

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Dear Rehab:

Greetings to you. 

Thank you for sharing your perspectives around the work Yemeni women have done in the years to resolve local conflicts, especially the ones on natural resources. This is great because it complements the findings of many other similar conflicts, that women are able to influence local conflicts even in the traditional settings. 

Adela

Hi, everyone! 
I am glad to be invited to this discussion by a friend of mine. 
I, myself, have been researching the role of women in local peace building in the ethnic conflicts of the South Caucasus for the last 2 years. Sadly to remind that this topic has also been under-researched and the role of women in peace-building has been underestimated. 
As an immigrant woman, my focus has been the impact of conflicts on women and their consequent migration with the hope of finding better future for themselves and their children. The empowerment of migrant women in their “new” homes are considerably more difficult than their involvement in socio-political life in their own countries. 
Moreover, I want to stress the importance of educating women about their rights and freedoms. Providing necessary social/legal/economic support services to (migrant) women decreases the level of violence against women/girls and increases the possibility of their closer involvement into their society. 
Best,

Adela 

Adeze Ojukwu

Hello,

 Moderator and distinguished participants.

Thank you for inviting me to this group.

 I am delighted to share my thoughts on the topic based on my experience as a journalist with focus on development issues affecting women, children and vulnerable groups.

I am from Nigeria, which has been affected terribly by terrorism. I have also lived two years in a post-conflict country Sierra Leone.

As a lecturer in post-war Sierra Leone some of my students, at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Freetown were physically and psychologically scarred by the 10-year old war. Many women were severely affected and live with various degrees of disabilities even in the university.

Though the disarmament programme championed by the UN system and other regional bodied poverty was widespread especially amongst women.

Women were unduely exposed and exploited because of their peculiarities and improverished conditions.

 I suggest that the global community can synergise with affected countries to establish  well-structured recovery  programmes that aid real economic independence for women,  through skill acquisition trainings, agricultural co-operative societies,  micro-credit facilities, reproductive health programmes and literacy opportunities.

I suggest that governments should be made to fulfil commitments to UN conventions and protocols on women rights and empowerment through more effective and innovative gender-sensitive mechanisms in public and political affairs in various tiers of governance across affected countries.

Additionally they should also address the underlying problems of poverty and illiteracy which undermine the capacity of women to make informed choices.

In Nigeria government has not been able to protect women and girls in various conflicts in the Northern and Central regions of the country.

Hence women are often kidnapped and violated by terrorist groups and herdsmen bandits, despite heavy presence of security officials.

Sadly there allegations that some  security personnel were involved in perpetuating atrocities against females in IDP camps.

The global Peace community has done very well  in mitigating some of these challenges.
But more interventions are needed,in Nigeria and other conflict zones, to ensure that political leaders protect and empower women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations and also address the factors that ignite and sustain such crises.



This requires establishment of institutional  structures in line with UN frameworks and SDGs targets to ensure justice, equity, good governance, accountability, transparency,  electoral reforms and financial support for women in politics.

The role of media and community involvement in policy  decision and execution  will also improve capacity of women to become more financially and politically empowered.

Journalists and activists can be embedded in order to increase communication flow between policy makers and people at the community levels.

Finally corruption has affected viable projects for women in Nigeria and other places.

For instance the social interventions for the poor and women are often marred by corruption and  partisanship.

The global community may need to strengthen monitoring mechanisms to track    programmes and expenditure in order to address the gaps poor execution of laudable recovery schemes especially for women.


Finally advocacy tools for peace and conflict resolution should be institutionalised and streamlined in public affairs including educational frameworks, political discourses, financial schemes and in business policies.

Conflict doesn't just happen. It sometimes takes series of missteps and mistakes to spark wars and conflicts.

But peace takes time to build.

So if peace initiatives  are integrated  within the various segments of society with active participation of women, activists, journalists, as well community, political and religious leaders society will be better for it.

Women will also be happier for it.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my simple thoughts.

Regards,
 Adeze

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Dear Adeze,

Thank you for sharing your in-depth understanding & raising a very important issue. I echo what you are saying around lack of real economic empowerment as part of recovery in post conflicts and also as part of the overall poverty reduction programs. In WPS agenda, globally there has been more focus on the participation and promotion elements, while we haven't tackled much in terms of addressing the protection, relief and recovery elements of WPS. While communities at conflict, also suffer sever poverty and many times poverty becomes the source of conflict and vice versa. Thank you for sharing these important perspectives. 

Rachel Dore-Weeks

Dear Wazhma, its always a privilege to be in any space with you and the rest of the incredible women engaged in this thread. I think the issue raised by Samira and all of your is an important one - of the incredible and unrecognised work that local women peacebuilders do, often at such risks to themselves and their families. How we - as the international community - can better protect and support them I think is a challenge we all struggle with, which i think is also compounded by how hard it is to measure progress and change. Donors find it straight forward to support humanitarian assistance - a necessary bandaid - because we can measure food distributed and food security rates, but it is much more difficult to measure the changes that occur in communities as a result of the work of women peacebuilders. We as supporters need to be better in how we consistently support local women's peacebuilding.

Adeze Ojukwu

Hi everyone, 

Thanks for the various views being shared on the contributions of women to peace in times of conflict.
 Generally women are viewed as natural care givers and peace lovers.
However  their capacity and passion to operate in these areas through rendering humanitarian services are often limited by cultures and belief systems in some traditional societies in Nigeria.
 Cheerily many have found ways to overcome these obstacles especially with increased literacy and public health campaigns.
 
First I want to share a few thoughts on peace building strategies by women and how they can help in tackling COVID-19.

COVID-19 is often described as a war. But it is a different kind. 
It is a monumental disaster that has exposed humanity’s  preparedness or lack of it to public health and economic challenges.

Like it is often said, the current crises is an unchartered territory that has brought a new norm for everyone. 

The humanitarian-cum-economic crises requires a whole new approach galvanised by the UN global coalition and a multi-sectorial solidarity to be effectively tackled.

Generally, women are on the front lines in offering medical and social services in urban and rural settings.
 This is essentially, due to their natural endowments and desire for peace and stability, as well as traditional roles in many cultures.

Hence their contributions in mitigating the impact of coronavirus across societies are invaluable, though they are not often acknowledged or accorded adequate media attention.

However women peace builders, especially those with relevant skills and resources are presently, devising creative ways to support the global fight against the pandemic.

From my observation, much of the work by women in villages, is in sharing information from WHO recommendations and national health guidelines to target groups using indigenous languages and traditional art forms.

Some women in my country are involved in various volunteering activities, support services, medical care work for  the sick and vulnerable groups.

They also use various outreach and personal methods, to support the current public advocacy, which is very important in fighting covid-19, especially in conflict areas and remote areas.
 However some of the health guidelines are incompatible, with the harsh realities and living conditions facing vulnerable people, particularly women and persons living with disabilities.

The congestion in camps and settlements largely undermine the principle of physical distancing.

Personal hygiene and social distancing can only be effective,  if essential goods and services notably clean water, food and sanitary facilities are provided steadily especially in war-torn areas.
Due to escalating hunger and food shortages, arising from economic restrictions, some women groups  have established  food baskets in some churches in Lagos, to assist the needy, widows, orphans and aged.
 
Women in Northern Nigeria are also sharing palliatives and  sanitary kits to people in Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) camps, as well as churches and mosques.

These social interventions are often aided by  faith-based organizations,  corporate bodies and philanthropic individuals.

During press interviews, some of them complained  that the social and economic limitations and lack of PPEs impeded the scope of their projects.

Nevertheless many women are undeterred in their resolve to offer help by offering meals to the indigent, sending flowers to nursing care homes and organising virtual meetings to extend comforting messages, at this distressful period, to front line workers, patients, as well as affected families. 
These sacrifices are quite significant and should be supported by state-sponsored mechanisms.

###


On  the various roles and impact of women peace-builders in conflict and post-conflict circumstances,  the efforts are huge and complex.

 They are quite significant but under-reported hence the women do not often get the vital support and financial resources, they require to foster and sustain their projects.

Women peace-builders have made tremendous impact in some conflict situations but they need real institutional structures and synergies, with other organisations, in order to entrench an enduring culture of peace in society. 


In some conflict-prone communities in Nigeria there are several initiatives by women to foster peace and healing during and after internal and external crises.

Women often organise themselves informally, through market associations, faith-based groups and traditional societies within their communities.

Such advocacy and traditional communication methods, extensively  brought some respite. 

But these efforts were not sustainable and effective enough, especially in large-scale conflicts and terrorist attacks or guerrilla warfare.

Most women peace builders lacked adequate knowledge on conflict resolution tools, organisational skills, office facilities and funds to further these personal or group initiatives.

In some cases,  there were no co-ordination and reporting systems among different organisations trying to build bridges in particular areas.

These weaknesses led to unnecessary competitions and hostilities, thus exacerbating tensions among the target groups.

In this scenario, most times, the projects suffered set-backs, due to needless  suspicions and squabbles.
 
Obviously women peace builders should be encouraged  to co-operate, at various levels of programming activities and messaging content based on shared objectives within particular societal segments, in order to create more momentum and solidarity for enduring outcomes.

My humble suggestion is that  women need more  trainings, expertise support and technological facilities, and financial resources, among others, for more effectiveness. 


Undoubtedly a lot more can be achieved by establishing conflict resolution  best practices within national institutionalises strutures, so that a new culture of peace advocacy, public health awareness and societal progress can replace the old order of violence and humanitarian  emergencies.

Thanks a lot and best regards in your work.

Petar

Hello to everyone. Very interesting topic.  Can I ask the moderators to share some examples of good and sustainable  women's initiatives and movements in Europe during the last decade. Thank you!

Amenah Mohssen Alabdo Salem

مرحبا 

آمنه محسن من اليمن

محافظة ابين  التي عانت وتعاني هذه المحافظة من الارهاب و التطروف وعدم الامن والامان . حيث ان هذه المجاميع الارهابية  قد سيطرة على هذه المحافظة في  عام ٢٠١١ وقد عشت تجربة نزوح مؤلمة  و جميع سكانها الى المحفظات المجاورة  عدن و لحج و حضرموت . 

وقد لعبت منظمات المجتمع المدني و اتحاد نساء اليمن في ترتيب اوضاع النازحين في المدارس وتقديم الاغاثة بالتعاون مع منظمات الامم المتحده المتواجده في عدن  و صنعاء . 

وعانت النساء الكثير من العنف السياسي و  الاقتصادي و التعليمي 

وعدم الاستقرار وانعدام السلام و الخوف على ابنائهم في فترة النزوح . وقد لعبت منظمات المجتمع المدني دورا في ترتيب اوضاع الاسر و التفاهم مع السلطات المحلية بتوفير مدارس لابناء النازحين . 

حيث ان اليمن لا تزال تعاني من الحروب و النزاعات المسلحة حيث ان الاطراف لم تلتزم بقرارات الامم المتحدة واستأناف الحوار . مما ادى الى قيام مؤتمر للمرة اليمنية و السلام في الاردن و تشكيل لجان و الخروج باليات عمل حول تنفيذ قرار  13و25

 قد شاركت المرة في اغلب المباحثات ولكن ليس بصفة رسمية ولكن لجان السلام المشكلة من النساء التي تضررن من الحروب هن واطفالهم اقموا اكثر من ورشة عمل اكان في الاردن او القاهرة او في عدن حول السلام و التحاور مع المتصارعين و توجيه رسائل للسلطات المحلية و عقد دورات للسلطات المحليه ولجان المجتمع المدني التي ستقوم بدورها بتوعية حول السلام . وتم تدريب النساء على كيفية الحوار و المفاوضات و الخروج با بيانات و الالتقاء بمبعوث الاممي وممثلي مكتب المبعوث عبر سكايب او زوم وقد تم رفع تقارير و ملاحظات حول تاييدنا لقرارات الامم المتحده و المبعوث حول ايقاف الحرب في اليمن ونتمنى من الامم المتحده عند قرارات ايقاف الحرب ان يشمل كل الاطراف المتنازعة و الالوية المتواجده على الارض في صنعاء و عدن .

الكشف عن الالغام المزروعة في المناطق المحررة و التدريب و التاهيل بمخاطرها و التوسع في جذب مناصرين للسلام وتدريبهم وتاهيلهم لنشر افكار السلام في المجتمعات المحلية .

اشراك الاغلبية في المباحثات من النساء و الضغط .

على الدولة باوجوب اشراك النساء في المفاوضات زيادة ممثلات من مناطق الحروب و النزاعات المسلحة في المحافل الدولية  .

 

 

Swarna Rajagopalan

This is a discussion about 'post-conflict' peacebuilding. Over years of reading and thinking about this, I am wondering what 'post-conflict' means--how often do conflicts actually end? We see the end of battle or even, of war. We see that crises pass or they metamorphose into a 'new normal.' But it seems as if often, conflicts continue to fester, and therefore, the lines between this phase and that are a little artificial. Having said that, here are some quick thoughts on the questions listed above.

  1. What good examples are there of women’s engagement in local peacebuilding efforts? What is different about these examples? Why did they work? What helped make them work? What didn’t work? 

      Women’s participation in peacebuilding is caught in a chicken-egg trap. Women are not included in official processes because officials say they cannot find them. And they are not to be found because we look for them in official processes, where they are not included, because they cannot be found because they are not there…and so on. What we have learned through projects like this one by WPSO, is that women gain experience as peace-builders by working where they are. In their immediate community or in their line of professional work, the profiles in this collection show that women seize the opportunity to initiate conversations about piece, to initiate dialogue, to build capacity and to court grave risk in the line of peace work.

      What is different about women’s engagement with peace, therefore, is that it is not scripted or staged. It does not wait for funding or project titles. It is everyday work and therefore, it is organic and endures. If you look at the array of examples in this book and in many others that profile women peacebuilders, we also see that women are rarely single-issue negotiators. They address reality as they encounter it—water, domestic violence and militancy, all at once—using a combination of approaches.

  1. How have women managed to engage in local political decision-making post-conflict? What effect has that had on others’ lives? 

Wherever they work, women usually do not wait for official invitations or special occasions. They appear to simply act in the here and now, focused on a patient resolution of survival concerns while talking about broader issues. The connection they build by acting together every day creates the forum for dialogue on issues that seem more distant. In a manner of speaking, they would seem to replicate the ‘functional cooperation’ process we speak about for states, except they are able to tackle more than one issue at a time. We see this in examples from around the world.

  1. How do you prevent the return to traditional norms after conflicts end? 

Only with vigilance. History teaches us that post-conflict, women do not just lose the gains made during conflict (such as they are, and they vary wildly), but they also lose rights they may have claimed in the pre-crisis age. The two World Wars of the 20th Century are great illustrations.

Insistence on women’s inclusion during the crisis or the conflict is critical to resisting this roll-back. This is why, while participation seems like the least urgent concern during the pandemic, it is the most important measure for holding fast in its aftermath.

  1. What role has creating a culture of peace played? 

Cultures of peace are built on everyday resistance and everyday actions—the kind of peacebuilding work that women do. These inevitably include, or must include, gender equality values—there is no peace without justice and equality, after all.

  1. What examples are there of imaginative alternatives that help create a culture of peace? What helped make them work? What didn’t work? 

I find the everyday engagements of the Afghan women in the above-mentioned booklet inspiring, as also the Mindanao Women’s Peace Table. I think if we can communicate to women that in fact, their everyday concerns are an element of peace and that peace is woven through everyday interactions and conversations and that it is as much their issue as that of “important” men who are considered “expert.” If we can create a sense of validation within women that they too can and must engage with “high” and “low” peace concerns, it would make a big difference.

  1. Was there any outside support that was vital to ensuring women’s engagement? If so, what can we learn from the timing, duration and how that support was given? What support might have helped but wasn’t forthcoming? What support was counter-productive and why? 

If women waited for outside support, they would get very little done. Difficult as it is, I would say that self-help is the secret to the endurance of women’s efforts. What we should be doing is identifying and reinforcing these efforts in the ways that women themselves identify.

Money always helps, but money comes with onerous reporting requirements. Accountability need not be tied to reporting in cumbersome formats. More important than money may be help in kind—computers, subsidising internet connections or a generator, making meeting space available or paying for it. Without impinging on autonomy.

  1. How can we ensure that the needs and views of the most marginalized are included? What good examples are there of including disabled women? LGBTQI communities?

By having discussions not just about why it is important but helping people journey to finding both the vocabulary for inclusion as well as practical measures (ramps and rails in their offices, for instance, or paying for amplification at a programme or Braille text).

Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah

Hi Wazhma, 

My name is Ruby, working for the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), I would like to contribute to the discussion using context of Indonesia, here is my response: 

  1. What good examples are there of women’s engagement in local peacebuilding efforts? What is different about these examples? Why did they work? What helped make them work? What didn’t work? 

When AMAN started to work on strengthening community resilience through the role of interfaiths mothers, it was to prove that women at grassroot level can contribute to sustaining peace in Post conflict area. We set up Women's School for Peace, as an incubator of women leadership, where interfaiths women who vounteerily joined with the process were trained to strengthen their individual capacity, skill on conflict resolution, community organizing and advocacy. After several month engagement in the process of education, the women started to find their own model to engage with local peacebuilding efforts. 

For instance in Village of Sawi Dago, District of Poso, central Sulawesi, to restore relationship among muslim and Christian community members after Armed conflict, group of interfaith women joining in Women's School for Peace using Organic Gardening to engage muslim and christian families. There was strong need to fulfil basic needs of people in hilly area with healthy vegetables, but at the same times, there is urgent need to bring back Muslim and Christian families into trust and strengthen cohesive society. So, Organic gardening was a chosen as a medium for people to repair their relation, prepare better future. Trust was the first element to restore. Through out the process of organic farming, each individuals, women and men and children, provided a space to release their wounded, and find more peaceful way to continue the life. Now, the garden is attracted by many inter faiths group as a gardening lab to learn reconciliation using farming. 

What made this work? We found some factors succeeded the process, such as: 

a. Awareness among inter faith mothers, who are willing to do better after conflict. The present of Women's School for Peace as affirmative action, not only given a new weapon for women to engage in peacebuidling process, but also to increase their strong confidence that they are entitled to be engaged. 

b. Continuation of Women's School for Peace, as learning media for women and girls to increase their leadership capacity, being supported by village authority and manage by inter faith mothers. 

c. Abandoned land that can be used to grow vegetables and grow trust

d. Community contribution; we have limitation on project, but using trust, community can contribute in continuing the project. Our organization always be ready to be contacted when community needs. We don't treat community as project site. They are our family. 

What does not work? 

a. Working limited to project; Working on peacebuidling need to have long term commitment beyond project. With or without money building resilience need to do. 

b. Engage with government when community is not strong enough. CSO and government have different culture of work. To avoid something instant happening, we need to create level of militancy among women groups, with strong skill on problem analysis, skill on conflict resolution, and more knowledge surrounding their village. 

How have women managed to engage in local political decision-making post-conflict? What effect has that had on others’ lives? 

They women need to have a strong organization where she is affiliating. Without organization, it is difficult to be engaged in decision making process in community, especially when patriarchal culture is still strong. So, inventing to create strong organization and collective leadership among women are crucial. Because all people joining in decision making process, are representing organisations, so, women need to organised them self and come up with collective strong voices, and be ready to have written document submitted to the development planning meeting at village level. 

When women engaged in decision making process, at least specific agenda such as reproductive health and education, literacy program for women, etc. though it is difficult to change the mainstream, with present of women who can explain why do women need support of reproductive health services and others, with concrete data and solution, the meeting often agreed on. 

Was there any outside support that was vital to ensuring women’s engagement? If so, what can we learn from the timing, duration and how that support was given? What support might have helped but wasn’t forthcoming? What support was counter-productive and why? 

External support needed by women in the community such as: 

1. Commitment of long term support; As AMAN working beyond project, our engagement in community never end, but reduce the role and intervention. As external power, a learning organization like us, will be strategic, because we are growing together with community we work. at least 10 years with different treatment to move to independency / Resilience

2.  Transformative leadership; Our goal to work in community is to create self resilience and economic independent among people. All efforts to push the process to create resilience among people, our organisation will take it up. But, it is also important to recognise the existing resources inside the community 

3.  Recognition, support and replicate; As NGO working with limited resources, than movement need to recognise the good practices, support the existing women initiatives by included into development planning, and replicate to other communities and provide sufficient support. other wise, all good practices remain a pilot project. It will never been to be massive project of transformation. 

 

Wazhma Frogh Moderator

Thank you Dwi. I have heard great stuff from AMAN from my colleague Samira Hamidi who had joined one of your conferences in Indonesia some years back, great to be connected. I see there is a lot we can learn from this experience. 

Your story from Sawi Dago reminded me of the times we worked with women in kitchen gardens inside their homes during the Taleban through our organization - and we used to bring 4-5 women and girls together on a garden where they would grow tomatoes but also discuss family issues, health matters and create a bond that could help them survive the isolation that the Taleban had enforced on them. We used to write words on the mud with sticks and when we heard the men entering the house, then with our hands we would scatter the mud so they wouldn't read what we wrote. Women have great coping mechanisms especially when they come together. 

 

Vera Damjanovic Moderator

I would also like to thank everyone on my own behalf for participating in the first week's discussion and for the very useful inputs that you shared. I am happy and honored to be here with you and looking forward to further exchange of experiences and suggestions, led by guiding questions raised in the beginning of our conversation.

The active participation of women in overall state/society functioning is highly important but still, we are facing many challenges even in a very developed parts of the world. On the other hand, additional focus should be put on measures and action taken in post conflict areas, in order to explore a huge amount of opportunities and, at the same time, face challenges amplified by developments in conflict-affected regions. Moreover, experiences and best practices from a local level are more than valuable, especially because they address real necessities and problems that individuals are dealing with in everyday life.

Feel free to share your ideas, questions and experiences.

Kindest regards,

Vera

Bojana Bulut

I am very happy to join the conversation and share my views on this topic.

Even though the role of women has changed and improved over the years, women still hold inferior position to men and unfortunately, there is still significant room for improvement regarding this matter all over the globe. I believe that good strategic planning and clear identification of needs of all members of society in post-conflict period can result in strengthening the role of women and contribute to well-being of people. The presence of women in peace negotiation table leads to implementation of a gender perspective in negotiation decisions. Participation of women in peace negotiations, as well as participation in transition process after a conflict is the only way that leads to real political and economic reconstruction of a society and social structure. Speaking of the improvement of women’s position in post conflict countries we should not lose sight of economic context which is highly important, bearing in mind that we cannot speak about real women’s independence or gender equality without women's economic independence and empowerment. In this regard, the effective use of post conflict help-funds is of crucial importance, meaning spending strategies should secure empowering women affected by conflicts. There is slow pace of progress in postwar countries and it should be taken into account that money mismanagement could deepen the differences and bad practices, which would, again, lead to worse position of women. Peace is a precondition for sustained economic growth, furthermore, economic stability and prosperity can foster peace. Finally, post conflict period might be used as an opportunity for promotion of women’s role in society and important step to politically mature country.

Regards,

Bojana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vera Damjanovic Moderator

 

Dear Bojana,

Thank you very much for your contribution. You emphasized the important aspect of post conflict recovery. The economic context represents a very important, inevitable component that should be addressed in order to minimize obstacles and create an environment for women’s protection and empowerment. Financial aid is crucially important but achieves its goal only through meeting the real needs of men and women in the society. In that sense, coordination and planning within a society and between international actors should be one of the top priorities, having in mind that we are, unfortunately, witnessing quite often practices of overlapping and mismanagement when it comes to the implementation of measures in peacebuilding processes.

Thank you once again.   

Adeze Ojukwu

Hello moderator and every one. 

I agree with the above submissions and I would like to share my thoughts on roles of women in post-conflict situations and related issues.

The roles of women depend on a number of factors, notably culture, environment, politics and religious tenets.

Different societies accord women varying roles based on their standing on some of the above-mentioned factors and other exigencies.
 
Women tend to operate within societal values and expectations.
In Nigeria a good number of women have participated in negotiations with terrorist groups for release of abducted girls.
 However sometimes their actions were viewed with suspicions because of the public anger towards these terrorists and their atrocities across several regions.
These mixed reactions sometimes douse the passion of some ladies to participate in post-conflict and  peace activities. 
Under such circumstances,  they refrain from advancing their mediatory plans, because of  risks to  their lives and families.

But in other instances, women succeeded  in providing  huge emotional and physical support for these girls and their babies, as  they are often sexually abused and impregnated by their abductors. 

 Most of these abducted girls became sex slaves to these militants, especially Boko Haram.
 
Though governments and agencies also provide rehabilitation centres and safety nets for them, older women in the communities often step out to lend their motherly support too.
These noble activities helped in healing the victims and families, as well as in restoring hope to ravaged communities.

Another area that is worthy of note is in providing a culture of peace through creative ways to avert hostilities, especially amongst warring communities.

Women in my area do this through organising themselves at local levels and group interactions  in vegetable markets, activities within faith organizations and neighbourhoods meetings.
For instance some notable women are currently working behind the scenes to de-escalate  the hostilities, arising from land disputes between my town Abagana and neighbouring Ukpo village in Anambra state in  Southern Nigeria.
Women and children suffer a lot during conflicts, so they often make efforts to avert tensions at early stages through mediation and advocacy strategies at personal and community levels.
In some situations, the women are unable to do much, due to the scope and intensity of the conflicts. 
Generally the last century has  witnessed tremendous improvement in the role of women around the world in several areas, including peace-building programmes. 
However a lot more can be achieved, particularly, in developing countries through legislation, training, advocacy, support services, economic empowerment and education.

Democratic societies tend to accord women more leadership positions in government, legislature and judiciary.
In such places adoption and establishment  of  national frameworks on gender equality, which invariably support advancement of women.
Undoubtedly, economic empowerment,  political freedom, functional education, appropriate leadership trainings and other strategic opportunities for women are quite instrumental in ensuring that females contribute significantly both in peace-building initiatives and decision-making processes.
 
However it is not often so in some parts of Nigeria and some other countries where challenges of finance, illiteracy and traditions tend to limit participation of women in the public and political space.

In the professional sphere, women have done very well with significant numbers of female judges, lawyers, engineers, doctors and journalists, unlike in the past.

I suggest that UN and international human rights organizations may need to periodically review and  strengthen mechanisms for effective adherence to commitments by governments and political leaders to the rights of women generally.

In building a culture of peace, societies should  seek innovative ways, that empower women to participate freely in peace-building processes, as well as, in governance.

 
Thanks.

 

Vera Damjanovic Moderator

 

Dear Adeze,

Thank you very much for sharing your valuable perspective on this topic. Traditional and cultural patterns and norms are, indeed, a very strong factor that shapes behavior, conditions, and relations within a society, as well as the expectations from its members. Likewise, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment are often considered secondary issues to be dealt with once a state or region has achieved security.  On the other hand, we are very much aware of how the already challenging position of women can be affected and even deteriorated in times when a state is facing serious security threats, such as terrorism and violent extremism. You shared a very important experience of how we could make a change at the local level despite aggravating factors that cannot be put aside. Innovative solutions, active engagement of international, national and local actors are, for sure, topics that deserve an additional attention, in order to have results and to support immeasurable efforts made at the local level. Inclusion of women in CT and CVE policies and programs is necessary, especially if we take into account their critical role in families and communities. Moreover, educated, prosperous, safe and resilient communities are the best long-term, sustainable deterrent against terrorism and violent extremism.

Wishing you a lot of luck in your work and looking forward to our further discussion.

Vera

swedi bilombele
Dear Sir/Madam, Greetings, I hope everything is fine and work’s goes rights during this difficult time of Covid-19 With regard of our consultation online discussion focused on three themes mentioned. Please, in our realities of case of study during this period of post of conflict women are largely very active at the non-governmental organization level. women have played a role through a different mode of action , to intervene in peace building measures as well as peace making . the local marginalized indigenous women are often the main victims in situation of conflict , suffering human rights abuses such as rape , forced pregnancy and abortion , and they often comprise the highest percentage of refugees and internationally displaced people. Moreover , women are often excluded from decision making during peace process and in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, women have a key role to play in conflict prevention and peace building as evidenced by activities of many women and women’s organizations. Women need to be at the hearty of postwar reconstruction and reconciliation process. Women as victims of war , with some limited references to their roles in societies reconstruction and the overall impact on family roles and responsibilities , the increase a female – headed household , and the expansion of women’s public roles an responsibilities during and following period of conflict . The decrease of men leaves women and children with daily struggle to survive. the girl-child is experiencing increasing marginalization , getting poorer , and facing almost daily sexual abuse or exploitation , humiliating this morality is failing under the stress of war during this period of post war economic and political reforms the differential effects are changes at the local level with regard of involvement and participation of women in the informal sector , the level of performance type of activities are developed enhanced by women’s ( tailoring, husbandry , cooking , business). For a leaders women’s a strong campaigns was been launched in women initiative for peace ‘’ aiming to bring definitively an end to country civil war these campaign was calling on the government to take action in four key areas, to reduce human suffering, bring war criminals to justice, promote peace throughout economic policies , the program was also be carried through the organization of workshops, education and training session, to help introduce the notion on basic respect for the wellbeing of women , and removing all the obstacles to active participation in all spheres of public and private through a full equal share in economic , social , cultural and political decision making , and for social justice , for equality , development and peace , their access to professional opportunities and their earning power , and to take their equal position in society, to take a greater share of family responsibilities, and access particular credit through which women can take action. Women have also spoken in their own voice , on the basis of their own experiences and values and eventually transform structures. With warmest regards. M. Crispin Swedi B.
Jovana Kovačević

Thank you very much for inviting me to join this very interesting discussion.

After reading previous comments, I would say that we all share the same opinion on the particularly important role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and the positive impact they can have in post-conflict reconstruction and peace building. The participation of women in peace-building processes is a precondition for establishing lasting peace. However, despite being the main civilian victims of conflicts, women, unfortunately, often have a marginal role in post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. This situation leads to them being further victimized. Therefore, an indispensable part of the peace-building process is understanding the impact of conflicts on women and taking appropriate measures to ensure their empowerment and security.

Many actors at the international level have been focusing their attention and putting their efforts in raising awareness on this important issue. However, we should not forget that support from the international community is also often crucial in providing women and their organisations in post-conflict zones with necessary means and tools for conducting their activities and achieving a positive impact - particularly when it comes to providing support to victims of conflict, conducting awareness raising activities, and contributing to women economic and political empowerment.

That is why, additional efforts should be explored to provide more coordinated and sustainable support and ensure coherent policy framework for assisting women in post-conflict societies.

Vera Damjanovic Moderator

Dear swedi bilombele , dear Jovana Kovačević,

Thank you so much for your constructive points.

In post-conflict context, working with women’s groups and others marginalized from pre-existing power structures can build public trust, help to ground reform processes in inclusiveness and improve provisions of security and justice across all parts of the community.  

Gender issues are often of great cultural sensitivity, so while external actors can encourage and support, initiatives should be led by local stakeholders. Please, feel free to share your opinion on activities and measures that should be taken in order to prevent the return to traditional norms after conflict end. Likewise, it is valuable to hear suggestions on how international actors can contribute more. 

Kindest regards.

Adeze Ojukwu

Hello everyone,
The various contributions and experiences, reflect the multi-layered dimensions of conflicts and challenges faced by women and societies generally, in their efforts to create a culture of peace and reconstruction.

I would like to share a few thoughts on building and sustaining an enduring culture of peace in society.

From my experience in Sierra Leone and Nigeria,  building a lasting culture of peace fosters inner healing and unity. 
 But it is usually an arduous process of painstaking efforts involving peace builders as well as financial commitment from various organizations and governments.
 
Its success also requires adequate planning and dedication by willing members of society, working in tandem with governments and non governmental agencies.
  
The upsurge of conflicts, particularly in developing countries, is a global concern, because it undermines efforts for the actualization of SDGs.
Urgent attention should be focussed on instituting preventive mechanisms to check the immediate and remote causes of escalating violence in these  nations.
Establishing early warning signals and monitoring mechanisms should be considered, as part of effective strategies to engender stability.
Needless hostilities can be averted by prompt and appropriate responses to grievances in society. 

Relevant  agencies can work more closely with communities and  nations to enunciate strategies to restore stability and economic growth. 
 It may look herculean but it is not impossible to actualize.
Investments in education and skill acquisition trainings, especially in rural places, will help society to jettison  violence and dangerous traditional norms, which often obstruct viable programmes by women.
Patriarchal societies frown at women taking up prominent roles in public spheres in many parts of Nigeria.
Such can be addressed through continuous education, advocacies and media communications.
With such strategies, women are better placed to participate in decision-making processes and peace building, as well as contribute meaningfully to financing projects at personal and public  levels.
 
This will save the world the colossal waste of lives and monies lost to  fighting brutal wars and undertaking dangerous peace-keeping missions in several countries.  

The reasons for wars and conflicts are myriad but not usually justifiable.
Sadly the consequences, especially loss of lives and properties are often devastating and irreversible.
The impact on families particularly girls and women is horrible and financially burdensome, when male breadwinners lose their lives or businesses during conflicts.
This often exposes women to more discriminations, sexual exploitations and victimizations even in their communities.

Time they say heals all wounds. But this is not often the case in protracted hostilities.

Sometimes wars can stretch over decades, making reconciliation and reconstruction efforts virtually impossible.

 A look at the middle East and the Sahel region of sub-Saharan African illustrates the gravity of these endless battles.

The complexities of these wars often polarise communities, countries and the world.
 
Peace initiatives both by women and organizations are sometimes, short-lived in such prolonged conflicts.
Women have not been very successful  in building peace in these volatile regions, such as Northern Nigeria, because of threats of being killed, kidnapped, sexually abused or radicalized by the religious extremists. 
For instance, despite huge amounts of money spent on fighting terrorists in  Nigeria, successive governments have not succeeded in eradicating terrorism, because of political and religious dimensions.
These  underlying factors and religious extremities that have continued to stoke the embers of war remain unaddressed.

In many instances, struggles for  power and scarce resources are at the root of some hostilities. This should be considered in creating peace and justice such as in oil rich areas of Nigeria, where militants are  fighting  and kidnapping oil workers and foreigners, due to oil spillage, gas flaring, water pollution and other environmental violations.

Most war mongers are products of societal predilections, as in the case of Boko Haram. They said they do not want western education and its religion.
So they unleash terror on people, markets,  schools, churches, mosques and government buildings in their zeal to establish a religious state.
After the three-year Nigeria civil war, the Eastern region transformed into an economic hub, due to massive investments in education and business ventures by various communities and churches.
 Women were instrumental in establishing schools,  social services and agricultural co-operatives to support family income. 
The egalitarian norm of the people also helped in transforming the region for good.

Violence is often deployed by those who see it as the only  solution to a problem, despite its dangerous consequences on the victims and  aggressors  too.
Prevention they say is better than cure.
Hence I suggest that societies should begin to focus on  building the  culture of peace, hinged on justice, fairness and equity for all, irrespective of race, class, colour and gender.
Investments in peace projects are the vaccines needed to ward off looming conflicts.
Government should ensure that such frameworks will incorporate key reconstructive elements, such as dialogue, advocacy, media action and inclusive participation across gender, faiths, class and creed.

Should government fail in this regard, human rights groups  should organize mass mobilizations to press the demand for initiatives that promote peace, justice and equity.

A culture of peace and gender equality can be spread easily, especially at local levels through traditional communication methods, as well as through conventional mass media and public mobilizations.
 Integration of relevant communication and advocacy materials in government and public institutions would also be beneficial.

There is no quick-fix method that can fit all circumstances, hence various societies should adopt the best approach that suits their situations. 
However such approaches should be continuous and concerted, till the objectives of enduring peace and reconciliation are achieved.

Building a culture of peace is comparable to building a house.

 It requires a good architectural plan, supervisors, workers and resources to actualize.

An enduring peace initiative requires a coalition of forces, involving men, women, youths and government authorities, as well as adequate funding.
It may take time to actualize, but the process can be quickened through a collective approach, as it becomes a shared responsibility for all stakeholders.

 All hands should be on deck, because peace is crucial for progress and prosperity. 

Thanks for your attention and best wishes in your endeavours.


Please log in or sign up to comment.