This first edition of the Feminist Peace Series provides various understanding of Feminist Peace with perspectives from practitioners, partners and colleagues in the field of peace building. From all the contributions we can summarize Feminist Peace as that which takes into account the differential impact of conflict on women, girls and gender diverse people and profiles their voices, needs and perspective in all peacebuilding processes.
As a young woman living in a war-torn country where women are vulnerable in all aspects of life, I am working hard to ensure that young women and girls have access to safe spaces.
Meet Justina Musa, a young South Sudanese woman working as a Project Officer for TOFI (Together for Inclusion), an organization that works with persons with disabilities to ensure that they have access to human rights, inclusive education and economic empowerment. Justina has worked as a volunteer for the Young Women Christian Association South Sudan since 2014. In this conversation, Justina shares about her background in feminist peace building and her passion for women’s leadership.
Justina attended the 2017 Feminist Leadership Institute on Peace and Security. “The training with the Peace Centre sharpened my brain and gave me the motivation to be as strong as I am today. It boosted my passion for feminism and opened doors for me to participate in conferences where my voice matters. Some conferences I participated in included the Human Rights Summit in Geneva and the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. I also got the opportunity to work as a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advisor in Norway” Justina Musa recalls. These interactions increased Justina’s confidence, and have given her courage to start the necessary conversations with strangers and stand and speak in front of a crowd.
Pushed by her dream to create safe spaces for women, Justina led the Let Girls Talk initiative where she sensitizes young women and girls about their rights and how they can claim them. These spaces help them to open up and share their experiences. She explains, “This has been one of the biggest achievements in my life, it is not an easy thing to get young women and girls to open up to you and share their stories with you, this has made me very strong and has given me the hope of standing up on behalf of many women.” The initiative brings young people together to share their experience about sexual health and reproduction and while Justina is proud of the work being done she admits that having support especially in terms of making the safe space enjoyable, providing them with pads, since some can not afford to buy and empowering them economically would push the initiative forward.
Justina’s passion for women’s leadership pushed her to become a change maker. However, she found that this was easier said than done and that is when she joined the Peace Centre’s Feminist Leadership Institute. The institute fueled her passion and she embarked on a journey to encourage more women to actively participate in decision-making processes and join political parties. Justina believed that this would give the young women room to actively be part of leadership processes and achieve their potential while inspiring other young women to realize their dreams.
Justina shares that sisterhood has kept her moving and motivated and is one of the most important things in her life, “I have gained a lot of support from my fellow young women who have become sisters in the journey of my life and the work I am doing”. She shared that interacting with people from different professions, nationalities, and cultures has given her a broader scope of life. “Every time I socialize with people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and points of view, I learn a lot and increase my knowledge” she elaborates.
Justina has big dreams and hopes to do wonderful things in terms of standing up for her fellow young women and girls in South Sudan who are vulnerable in the community and society. As a young woman living in South Sudan where generally women are marginalized out of roles of power and productive wage-paying jobs, Justina shares that she has faced numerous challenges, “Sometimes no one listens to you and you are being denied access to platforms where your voice would matter. You are being followed by security personnel and so on, which has been my biggest fear especially coming from South Sudan where insecurity is at the highest peak.”
Justina enjoys reading and her favorite author is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her dream is that Africa will one day have more women leaders.
My advice to the young women aspiring to lead is that let’s support each other and work as a team. I encourage the young women to pursue the training because it will build their capacities to be able to stand for peace and security for the women and girls in Africa. Justina Musa
Every quarter The Peace Centre’s Evelyn Birungi sits with one of our alumnae of the Feminist Leadership Institute to discuss their journey as women peace builders, the contributions they continue to make for feminist peace and security and their hopes for the future in Africa and Asia. To participate or to learn more about a specific woman peace builders, reach out at email@example.com
The Peace Centre convened a parallel event at the Virtual 65th Commission on the Status of Women on Monday, 15th March at 3:00 pm EAT. This year, the aim was to hear and reflect on the perspectives of diverse women peace builders including young women, displaced women, women with disabilities, women in rural areas, women peace builders in the local/sub-national governments, religious institutions, the private sector, technology and academia. In an enlightening conversation with diverse women peace builders, we defined the concrete actions necessary for us to see the transformative change associated with our vision of feminist peace over the next 25 years.
At the parallel event we focused on the actions necessary for transformative change in the next 25 years, and as a Catalytic Member of the Generation Equality Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact, we discussed this in the context of a two hour moderated conversation in plenary with speakers making brief
submissions. The discussions included the role of academia in feminist peace building and creating the next
generation of transformational leaders which was led by Dr Angelina Mattijo Bazugbo, from the National Transformational Leadership Institute, University of Juba, South Sudan.
It also included conversation on the game changers necessary for real progress towards feminist peace from
the perspective of young women, refugee women and girls who were represented by, Eunice Pikiyiko, Crown the Woman South Sudan and Elizabeth from Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement respectively. Women peace mediators views were also shared by Aimee Imani Matabaro, Initiative de Lutte contre la Vulnerabilite et de promotion de la Personne humaine (ILVP).
The concrete actions necessary for us to see the transformative change associated with our vision of feminist peace over the next 25 years were discussed as;
The need for continued conversation and advocating for Safe spaces/Plat forms and Mechanisms to protect women peace builders from insecurity, threat of intimidation, revenge/retaliation from combatant behaviors in political institutions; and exhaustion as a result of excessive work of lobbying and advocacy. The need to provide resources to women and organizations to be able to translate WPS agenda and other policies into practice, without leaving out men and boys who remain responsible for preserving the gendered norms in the society.
The conversation in Burundi discussed the need to strengthen the potential influence of women, strengthen the women’s movement, work on social norms, practices and legal systems that block women in peace and security processes, and define a new approach that involves influencing key players at several levels. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it would be better first of all to understand that the various conflicts are due to the natural resources of the country. Women therefore need to be protected especially during the post-conflict period in their direct involvement as actors in all peace processes by granting them substantial means to actualize the solutions to their problems.
The executive director, Helen Kezie closed the conversation by linking to regional and global opportunities for monitoring, accountability and collective action. She asked the participants to think about ways in which we can sustain activism at the individual level and hold state and non-state actors accountable to holding peace. She stressed that we need to mentor young people so that when we leave we have built a critical mass.
The Peace Centre conducted training on Peacebuilding and Leadership for 50 women leaders (political, religious, cultural, CBOs and independent/influential women leaders) and 50 youth leaders (political, religious, cultural and independent/influential youth leaders) in Soroti district. The training which aimed to enhance conflict analysis peacebuilding, governance, leadership and mediation skills was conducted from 22nd to 27th February 2021.
To build their effective and meaningful participation in the formal and informal peace building processes; participants applied a gender lens to conflict and peace issues, discussed the gendered impact of conflict to further understand the conceptual and practical tools and the different roles that men and women play in peacetime and wartime.
The training also included a conflict analysis session, where women leaders were taken through the types of conflict, tools for conflict analysis such as the human knot, that demonstrates teamwork, communication skills and conflict management which helped participants identify the root causes, consequences and interventions for peacebuilding and conflict resolution in their communities.
Practical exercises were also used at our Peace Advocates training focused on negotiation through a drama on the Itesot traditional wedding ceremony that introduced participants to negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. During the negotiation process participants noted that negotiation begins by identifying the conflict, clarity about what is being offered and what is needed from the other party, effective communication between the parties & agreement to resolve the conflict.
The Peacebuilding and Leadership training is timely based on the fact that women’s participation in decision making, in peace building and post conflict recovery in Uganda is markedly low, particularly at local level. The training increased constructive engagement of women and youth who can effectively participate and influence the formal and informal peace building processes. As a result of the training, Women Mediation Networks were created in Gweri, Asuret, Arapai at sub county level in Soroti with the vision of a peaceful and prosperous community.
The Network which will prioritise sharing good practices, expertise and peer-to-peer learning, where women engaged in mediation in different contexts learn from each other also contributes to strengthening efforts to enhance women’s meaningful participation and influence in peace processes at all levels. The network will also empower women to dialogue with decision-makers for improved service delivery through radio talk shows and engaging local leaders. They look to address child neglect, land conflicts, SGBV, forced and early child marriages in the community.
Responding to the absence of young women in policy spaces and programming on peace and security, The Peace Centre conducted a 5-day training for 31 young women from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Uganda. This was conducted from the 17th to 22nd August to empower young women from conflict-affected countries including refugees, university students, activists, community-based organization leaders to be leaders and agents of peace.
Investing in women’s leadership requires a lifecycle approach to strengthening and supporting women’s leadership but it will not only change the trajectory of their future, but that of their communities as well. The institute aimed at enhancing the technical expertise of young women to participate in and influence gender-responsive peace-building processes, to empower young women to act as advocates for women’s rights and gender equality as well as strengthen communication through different avenues. The training comprised of modules on;
Leadership to prepare the young women to learn how to express themselves effectively with confidence, assertiveness, creativity, critical thinking, have influence and negotiate successfully.
Gender and Peace Building to provide an introduction to ‘gender’ as an integral concept that shapes our understanding of peace. Drawing on definitions of gender, the module will incrementally make connections between gender, conflict, peace and security.
Creative Activism, through communication to strengthen participants’ communication skills and advocacy through art.
Participants will be expected to apply the newly acquired knowledge and skills through the implementation of a social action plan into their own community settings.
Global Fund for Women and the Women’s International Peace Centre convened women human rights activists and organizations from Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda working to build peace, end sexual and gender-based violence, and combat the negative impact of the extractive industry on peace and women’s rights.
In the space, we assessed the progress and gaps in the women, peace, and security agenda in the region and defined a creative common vision and agenda for feminist peacebuilding.
This report highlights the discussions during the Regional Convening on Women’s Leadership in Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes region of Africa.