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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peace Centre is excited to be a part of Just Future, an Alliance that will over the next 5years, work towards fair, equitable & inclusive justice, security and peace in Afghanistan, Burundi, DRC, Mali, Niger and South Sudan. Just Future was formed in response to the challenges of a fragile world. Consisting of 6 established CSOs and networks, from the Global North and South, our work will strengthen the capacity of CSOs and enable their collective action to bring about more inclusive and peaceful societies.
Just Future’s vision is of a world in which all people in fragile states benefit from more accessible, responsive and accountable security and justice institutions, and more inclusive arrangements for political governance and peace-making. Just Future will work in solidarity with CSOs in each country—especially those representing women, young people, displaced people, and identity-based groups—enabling them to represent the voices of the most excluded at the local, national, regional, and global levels.
Just- future is seeking to change the current state of life because conflict and violence are the most significant obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The alliance hopes to change the situation through; Lobbying and advocacy toward state security and justice institutions (police, judiciaries, customary authorities), elected officials at local and national levels, and regional and international organizations like the African Union, EU and UN, based on research and evidence
Civil society Capacity strengthening, based on a shared learning agenda, enabling all Alliance members and country-level CSO partners to benefit from knowledge-sharing, peer mentoring, and tailored training—especially through fragile-fragile linkages. Just Future will be implemented by an Alliance of partner organizations.
The Just Future Consortium consists of:
Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC):
Women’s International Peace Centre (The Centre), formerly Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), is a feminist organization with a mission to ignite women’s leadership, amplify their voices and deepen their activism in re-creating peace.
African Security Sector Network (ASSN):
The African Security Sector Network (ASSN) is a pan-African network of experts and organizations working in the area of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Founded in 2003, the network is headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with regional hubs in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Nairobi.
West Africa Network for Peacebuilding:
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is a leading Regional Peacebuilding organization founded in 1998 in response to civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s. Over the years, WANEP has succeeded in establishing strong national networks in every Member State of ECOWAS with over 500 member organizations across West Africa.
The Liaison Office Afghanistan (TLO):
Founded in 2003, The Liaison Office (TLO) is an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO) that emerged from a Swiss peace pilot project on good governance after the organization was approached by South Eastern province community elders requesting assistance for participation in the peace and reconstruction process. TLO has since evolved into an independent Afghan NGO conducting research and analysis across Afghanistan.
Search for Common Ground:
Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground works to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.
Search works with local partners to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies’ capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand the differences and act on the commonalities. Search’s mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.
Cordaid is an internationally operating emergency relief and development organisation. Cordaid believes in a world where people can break through barriers of poverty and exclusion, influence decisions that affect them, and participate in equitable and resilient societies. Cordaid operates in fragile settings, where citizens have no access to even basic services, because of poverty, armed conflict or power imbalances. Cordaid supports local communities and their endeavors to improve healthcare, food security, education, security and justice. Where disasters strike, Cordaid offers humanitarian assistance.
Next to the Consortium, the Alliance consists of 3 research partners:
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.
Rift Valley Institute (RVI):
The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is an independent, non-profit organization, founded in Sudan in 2001, currently working in eastern and central Africa. The aim of the Institute is to advance useful knowledge of the region and its diverse communities, bringing a better understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. The RVI works with institutions in the region to develop and implement long-term programmes that combine action-oriented research with education and public information.
Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden University (VVI):
The Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI) is part of the Leiden Law School. The VVI seeks to develop and disseminate socio-legal knowledge and theory regarding the interaction between law, governance and society. More specifically, the Institute studies the emergence, functioning, and evolution of legal institutions. The VVI combines a top-down with a bottom-up approach; it considers perspectives of both state agents, citizens and other non-state actors.
Finally, the Alliance also comprises our network partner:
Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS):
The Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) is a member-led international network composed of civil society actors, practitioners, experts and academics from the Global South and Global North who work together on conflict and crisis prevention, peacebuilding and statebuilding in over 27 fragile and conflict-affected countries (FCAS).
Together with partners and local communities, we will implement Just Future across 6 countries, as well as at the regional and global levels.
This research, undertaken by a consortium of organisations including Gender Action Peace and Security (GAPS), Somali Women Development Centre (SWDC), Saferworld, Women for Women International, Women’s International Peace Centre (The Peace Centre), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Nigeria and Womankind Worldwide. This research report, funded by the UK’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF), sets out recommendations for modalities to fund, support and strengthen WROs and CSOs, as well as enable the UK, CSSF Africa and the international community – including donors, multilateral and INGOs – to better understand the challenges and opportunities for WROs and CSOs working on peace and security issues in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and globally. This report outlines the findings and recommendations of this research and is supplemented by country-specific reports for Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia.
From 25th to 26th February 2020, The Peace Centre with support from FOKUS and UN Women convened a dialogue under the theme “The
South Sudan Peace Process; The Role and Prospects
for Refugee Women” to provide a platform for refugee women to understand and receive updates on the peacebuilding processes, link the refugee women with other women involved in advocacy towards engendering the peace processes in South Sudan and ignite women’s ability to participate in the formal and informal peacebuilding processes right from the refugee settlement for sustainable peace in South Sudan.
This report shares details of the proceedings of the conference.
The Peace Centre, in partnership with Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and National Transformational Leadership Institute conducted a five-day training for 21 young women on women, peace and security from 27th to 31st July 2020 to strengthen young women’s leadership skills, equip them to gather information, conduct gendered analysis of current peace and security issues and engage in advocacy for the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.
Session One focused on the key Concepts on Gender, Transformational Leadership, Peace Building and Conflict Management. The objective of the session was to familiarise participants and develop a common understanding of the meaning of terms that would be used throughout the training. Participants were asked to recall their early childhood days and share what age they discovered that they were girls and not boys. A number of issues were raised that helped to explain the meaning of various terms including sex, gender and gender roles:
• Many discovered their gender when they were four to six years old, through what their parents said or forbid them to do. For example, being forbidden to bathe together with boys or use a common toilet
in school or squatting while urinating, instead of standing.
• Others discovered gender roles when they were assigned to assist their mothers in the kitchen, and other household chores, while their brothers were playing with other boys or doing other roles assigned to men in their communities
Through this discussion, a distinction was made between sex and gender and how socialisation can affect women’s presence and participation in the public arena. The facilitator further explained how culture and unequal
opportunities availed to men and women could result in discrimination, oppression or exclusion of women in nation building.
Day two kicked off with a session on conflict mapping and analysis, as well as non-violent conflict resolution strategies which focused on dialogue and
mediation. Participants defined what conflicts look like in their communities conflict y issues such as land disputes, cattle raiding, domestic violence etc. Using a Conflict triangle, the session facilitator Dr. Angelina Bazugba demonstrated how conflict occurs and noted the contradictions, attitudes involved and the behaviour of different individuals or parties to the conflict. Key factors contributing to the conflict in South Sudan were discussed. Consequently, various conflict resolution strategies were explored. Emphasis was placed on non-violent strategies including dialogue, negotiation, mediation and arbitration.
Day 3 covered roleplays on conflict resolution. The first role-play was about land grabbing. The grabber lived on the land for a long time before the real owner of the land showed up. Both of them had legal titles, but the grabber threatened to kill the real owner. The case was reported to the community leader who in response called a meeting to resolve the conflict. The meeting involved the Minister for Housing, City Council, Police, community members and the media. The objective of the meeting was to bring two conflicting people to dialogue and find a peaceful solution. The meeting resolved to return the land to the rightful owner with compensation while the grabber was given some money that is equivalent to what was invested on the land. The second role play was on mediation. Key issues emerging from the roleplays included Gender based violence, inheritance of women, girl child denied rights to live with her mother, Power struggles in cultural context, Access and ownership of resources among others.
During the session that covered the Women Peace and Security Agenda, participants were familiarised with key institutional frameworks that support women’s role in the women, peace and security agenda and to discuss national, regional and international frameworks advocating
for gender equality. Frameworks highlighted included; The Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Beijing Platform for Action, UNSCR 1325: The United Nations Security Council
Resolution based on the four pillars of prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery. Participants were encouraged to understand these
documents for effective advocacy and lobbying on women’s rights.
This session introduced Mentorship, Confidence Building and Coaching, as well as inter-generational dialogue as key strategies for supporting young women leaders and aspirants. Women leaders namely Hon. Rebecca Joshua Okwasi, the former Minister for Roads and Bridges, Ms. Esther Soma from UN Women, and Ms. Rita Lopidia the Executive Director of Eve Organisation shared their leadership journeys and experiences.
The session was on wellness, self-care and personal development was facilitated by Hope Chigudu, a mentor and coauthor of the Healing through Rituals guide for sustaining wellness and activism and shared selfcare tips with the Young Women. Hope emphasised that women struggle everywhere with issues because women are not well grounded in the right information about themselves. Women must talk about their issues openly and get the help they need.
The last session covered action plan development and as young transformational leaders they were asked to identify at least two major advocacy activities which they could do to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from the training.