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.
Pikyiko Eunice Jacob is one of the young women who have gone through the Peace Centre’s leadership training. She is a South Sudanese young woman leader currently working with Crown The Woman- South Sudan as a project officer. Crown the woman- South Sudan is a women-founded and women-led nonprofit. It is a non-governmental, non-political, humanitarian and national grassroots organization that aims at empowering girls and women to ensure they harness their potential and contribute to nation building economically, socially and politically.
Eunice describes herself as a hard worker and a good listener who is trying to do her work to the best of her abilities.
“I love to learn new things, because the world keeps changing and I’m inquisitive by nature, I tend to ask questions so I can learn.” she says.
Eunice’s first interaction with the centre was when she attended a workshop/ mentorship session in November of 2019 in South Sudan. She shared her passion for working on women issues and trying to find ways to empower them. “The Peace Center made me realize that this was an achievable goal and my capacity was built during the mentor-ship session.”
Her realization was further built on when a group of young South Sudanese women were chosen as representatives visiting Uganda to learn and share experiences with The Peace Centre. Here Eunice was taken through practical ways in which she could become a better leader and was also able to draw up a vision board for her next 5 years. “I relate to The Peace Centre because they are empowering young women, helping them realize their passions and figure out how to achieve them. “
Eunice remarks that her journey with Women International Peace Center has been the best journey so far of her life so far. It’s not only been engaging but has also been very empowering. It helped her build her capacity, especially as a public speaker. Although she admits that she’s not exactly where she is and she is always working towards the one hundred per cent stance. She’s sure that with the continuous support of The Peace Centre she will be able to convey information with the confidence she previously lacked.
“Before working with The Peace Centre I was just a young woman that had a lot of dreams and aspirations but didn’t know how to put my point across. My dreams were big with no way of execution, However, with the centre’s help I was able to identify the different ways I can make a change in my community, how to present myself and it has broadened my thinking capacity, and how to adapt in my community.”
Her experience at the peace centre helped her realize that “you don’t have to wait to graduate to become a leader or have a leadership role”, “being a leader is not about your age, experience or qualifications. It is a calling.
When asked about her stance on feminism she replies, “I was not a strong feminist before but with the various conversations and books I have read about feminism, I have realized that we women should fight for our rights in the community be it small or big, to have equal opportunities. I have also learnt that I can’t effectively do my work if I’m not looking after myself or exercising wellness.
As a feminist organization that is committed to the intentional integration of wellness into the ways and practices of organizing for transformational leadership, we developed a training model, “Harnessing Our Power with Soul: Bespoke curriculum for Transformational Leadership and Wellness” with the support of Womankind Worldwide through the “Women’s Advocacy for Voice and Empowerment through inclusive platforms in Uganda” project.
The Bespoke Curriculum contains some practical activities in an attempt to meet the needs of diverse groups at different stages of organizational growth and their varied approaches to learning and ways of sharing knowledge. This allows activists to visualize the experiences of others doing similar work to their own and to see themselves in these experiences.