Youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes is critical for ensuring sustainable and inclusive peace, as recognised by the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution (SCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.
To achieve an increased number of youth peace advocates with strengthened capacity who are effectively participating and influencing the formal and informal peace building processes, Women’s International Peace Centre conducted a training for twenty (20) youth peace advocates from 21st to 23rd September.
The training aimed at strengthening participants’ capacity in peacebuilding and conflict transformation, increasing their understanding of gender in conflict as well as enabling them to acquire knowledge and skills in mediation, reporting and leadership.
The training model which was based on adult learning approaches included sessions delivered through; in-person workshops, lectures, role play, storytelling and reflection, group work and presentations, brainstorming, and illustrations among others. Topics of discussion focused on transformational leadership skills, feminist digital activism, reporting and communication, gender, conflict and peacebuilding.
Gender was defined as the social construction of economic, social, political, and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being women and men.Participants shared some of the gender roles associated with being a woman or man in society today. The roles mentioned for women included; cleaning, washing clothes, cooking food, being submissive, rearing children while men on the other hand were mentioned to be the managers whose responsibility is to provide for their families.
It was noted that gender roles are influenced by various factors such as society, experience, culture, environment, history, ethnicity, politics and race to mention but a few. As a result, gender roles have pushed women into the informal sector which has led to lack of power to influence, lack of access to opportunities and resources giving more power to men than women.
The facilitator emphasized that peacebuilding helps in preventing outbreak, recurrence and continual armed conflict, violence or social tension. It was defined as the employment of measures to consolidate peaceful relations and create an environment which deters the emergence or escalation of tensions which may lead to conflict.
Participants were also introduced to UNSCR 2250 (2015) on Youth, Peace and Security, a resolution that recognises young people’s role in promoting international peace and security which identifies five key pillars for action: Participation, Protection, Prevention, Partnership and Disengagement and Reintegration.
It was highlighted that youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes is critical for ensuring sustainable and inclusive peace and participants were encouraged to participate in peace processes.
As a major tool of advocacy, participants were introduced to feminist digital activism, a communication form that involves the use of social media tools to put out advocacy messages and advocate for issues affecting their communities.
In conclusion, participants suggested different roles of leadership they could participate in once they got back to their communities. These included; advocacy work, influencing media dialogues for attitude change, stopping youth from participating in violent conflict, organising peace dialogues across lines of conflict and facilitating community dialogues on issues affecting youth in their communities.