03 October 2012: To mark International Peace Day on 21 September, Womankind Worldwide and ActionAid launched a new report on the vital but overlooked roles of women peacebuilders. Lee Webster, Policy and Advocacy Manager, gives an overview of the study.

To mark International Peace Day on 21 September, Womankind Worldwide and ActionAid launched a new report on the vital but overlooked roles of women peacebuilders.

From the ground up (summary, full report) is based on focus groups and interviews with over 550 women and men across Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. It shows that despite geographical, cultural and social differences across the five countries, women are often at the forefront of solving conflicts at local level.  Women and women's rights organisations provide vital services to survivors of conflict, mediate between parties, and promote nonviolence within their families and communities.

Strikingly, across all countries and communities researched, women are more likely than men to work collectively, rather than individually, in pursuit of peace.  Working together gives women a degree of protection, and also amplifies their voice.  Bandana Rana from Saathi, a women's rights organisation in Nepal, says:

in a patriarchal society, it is extremely important that women come together. Unless they act together, no one is going to hear them. They find security and strength in each others’ experiences.

The report also shows that women are building peace on a shoe string.  They take great risks to speak out, yet their efforts are hampered by a lack of support.  Women’s rights organisations at local level have no money for the basics, women are stopped from participating in peacebuilding by family members or societal expectations of what women are ‘supposed to do’.  Barriers such as lack of basic infrastructure, threats or acts of violence, and responsibilities in the home all contribute to women's lack of participation in formal peacebuilding.

The research contributes to filling a gap in evidence on the roles of women in local peacebuilding, and makes important recommendations to the international community. First, a minimum of 30% representation must be reserved for women and women's rights organisations in peace processes at all levels. Second, as recommended by the UN Secretary General, 15% of all peacebuilding funds should be dedicated to advancing women's rights and participation. Thirdly, violence against women should be recognised as a key barrier to peace, and targeted action should be taken to tackle it.

Whilst the report highlights the barriers to participation, it also brings a beacon of hope. As despite the many forces acting against them, women are mobilising and organising at local level, to rebuild communities from the ground up.

Comments

Awall Inusah Mohammed on Oct. 3, 2012, 2:53 p.m.

<p>Gender dimensions in peace building has remained a back burner issue across the globe. It is my hope that, with the emergence of literature such as this one, the picture-looking forward-would be more favourable than what we are currently witnessing.</p>

Tim Symonds on Oct. 26, 2012, 10:35 a.m.

Please also circulate - Training Of Trainers Manual: Gender And Security For The Media And Civil Society in Nepal by Lesley Abdela and Tim Symonds, together with Sarah Dalrymple, Saferworld Asia Conflict and Security Advisor Download free at www.saferworld.org.uk/resources/view-resource/649 Although referencing Nepal, the material is invaluable for 3-day workshops for all conflict and post-conflict regions, for UN/IGO, Military and NGO/CSO peace- and democracy-building use. The workbook contains tools, hand-outs, briefing information sheets and selected reading materials. It is accompanied by two sets of PowerPoint slides: Gender and security and Security and security sector reform (SSR) and a Companion workbook. The workbook contains tools, hand-outs, briefing information sheets and selected reading materials. It has been designed to be as helpful as possible to trainers. It contains daily learning diaries and lists of resources on gender and security issues for journalists and civil society. Many of the tools have been included as useful background material for researchers or journalists to keep for future reference. The workbook can be given to participants for use during the workshops or for future reference. This publication is part of a broader project by the Institute of Human Rights Communication (IHRICON) and Saferworld, with support from the Swiss Development Corporation, which strengthens the development and implementation of gender-sensitive policy and programming on security. Further information - Evelyn Vancollie, Asia Programme Saferworld EVancollie@saferworld.org.uk Lesley Abdela, Senior Partner, Eyecatcher/Shevolution lesley.abdela@shevolution.com

Anurug Chakma on Nov. 1, 2012, 7:59 p.m.

In my society, I have seen women are always peaceful, they do not involve in any kind of conflict. It is also found that they rebuild relationship between individuals who are in conflict, especially in case of family dispute. The great scope for women in peace-building is in the arena of family education in which women can teach their children to respect the opposite points of view, to be tolerant for other cultures and religions.

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