Women’s participation in peacebuilding is critical to breaking the cycle of violence and building sustainable peace. Not only do they deserve their voice to be listened to, but they often pay extra attention to the underlying social issues which contribute to the violent attitudes in the first place. Their priorities include addressing issues such as gender-based violence, helping refugees and internally displaced people and improving food security, maternal healthcare and girls’ education. Addressing and resolving these issues are critical to preventing conflict. It is only when these needs are addressed that sustainable peace can take root.
Here’s what they are doing in conflict areas worldwide…
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by a Taliban gunman for going to school, has drawn huge attention to the issues girls and women face. She has shown the world that women are standing up and taking action against discrimination. She is only one woman, but there are many others who are relentlessly working to empower women, and make them too realise their peacebuilding capabilities – these are our peacebuilders.
Gulalai Ismail is empowering women in Pakistan and has previously worked with Malala. Her organisation, Aware Girls, is training women to challenge the male-dominated society and partake in the political system. Their latest training programme saw three of the participants – who were previously uninvolved in politics – become heavily involved in local elections. As a result of the programme’s success, it is now seeking funds to expand across the border into Afghanistan.
Dishani Jayaweera is working to heal religious divides in Sri Lanka. Her organisation the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR) has been working with young people and religious clergy to overcome religious tensions. Now she is starting a project that will highlight the role of women in society. Groups of women will produce films to make their voices heard, and to get their participation in local decision-making processes more widely accepted.
Angelina Napal is ensuring women’s voices are listened to in South Sudan. Angelina’s organisation, The Collaborative for Peace, has set up local-level peace committees, including male and female representatives. Angelina is ensuring that, for the first time, women’s voices are listened to in conflict resolution and that they are involved in the decision-making processes.
Niki Machanja is working to empower women in peacebuilding in Zimbabwe. She works for our partner Envision, establishing female-led community groups working to reduce violence in communities. They are also enabling women to take leadership roles, which are traditionally male dominated. In doing this, they are reversing a culture of violence, establishing political freedom and encouraging a broader cultural change in gender equity and equality.
These women have risen up, risking their lives – and often those of their families – to fight for peace in their communities. However, they need your help to do this. Please make a gift today to transform the lives of women living in conflict zones around the world.