Kenya’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

by Dhyeya Pandya, current intern at WPSN-C and World Federalist Movement, International Development and Globalization student at University of Ottawa
KenyaFlagImage1
Retrieved from: http://peacewomen.org/action-plan/national-action-plan-kenya

 

Released on March 8th, 2016 the Kenyan National Action Plan (KNAP) is dedicated to the promotion, integration, and collaboration of UNSCR 1325 into mainstream perspectives on peace, conflict resolution, security, policies, and national development. the KNAP consists of the following four pillars:

  1. Participation & Promotion of women in institutions
  2. Prevention of violence against women and girls
  3. Protection of women and girls against violence
  4. Relief and Recovery programmes designed by women, meeting specific needs of women and girls

The KNAP recognizes that in order to achieve its objectives there must be a level of coordination between institutions at all levels of government. Thus, the Plan has outlined several implementation strategies which include engaging stakeholders at various levels, as well as the integration of UNSCR 1325 into policies and institutional bodies. Having learnt from the NAPs of Finland and Liberia, the KNAP recognizes the need for commitment from all levels of the nation for the successful promotion of gender equality to increase the presence of women in leadership.

 

Read more at: http://peacewomen.org/action-plan/national-action-plan-kenya 

 

Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights: Presentation by Jess Tomlin, executive director, MATCH International

The following is the prepared remarks presented by Jess Tomlin, executive director, MATCH International, at the Senate Human Rights Committee on June 11, 2015. Video is also available.

Thank you very much, Madame Chair, and good morning to all. I would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you today.

My name is Jess Tomlin, the Executive Director of The MATCH International Women’s Fund. We have been supporting women’s movements globally for nearly 40 years and our funding now comes entirely from individual Canadians. We are Canada’s only international women’s fund and we strive to channel more resources directly into women-led, community-based organizations that serve women and girls. We support organizations in more than 25 countries globally. Because of this, my remarks will focus on the vital role women’s organizations are playing across the broad spectrum of peace and security.

Two years ago, The MATCH Fund launched a global call for proposals to take the pulse on the state of women’s organizations around the world, many of them in conflict-torn countries. We received nearly 1,000 proposals, the large majority of which asked for funding to combat violence against women. Of these proposals, we received $3 million worth of requests from women’s organizations working specifically in conflict-torn countries. We were able to fund only 7.  I’m here today on behalf of the others.

When I last spoke to this Committee in March 2014, I shared that the average annual income of a grassroots women’s rights organization is only $20,000. This figure drops to $12,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Today, let me also highlight that:

  • 48% of these organizations never receive core funding for day-to-day necessities such as turning on the lights, powering the internet, or providing a modest salary for staff members.
  • It is, therefore, no surprise that 1/5 of grassroots women’s rights organizations regularly face the heartbreaking decision to close their doors due to financial shortfalls.

Yet, these are the organizations that have the greatest positive impact on women living in conflict. When they close their doors due to a lack of funding, women cannot access valuable services. These are the women that stand in the way of the side effects of violent conflict in its many ugly forms- Early forced marriage, trafficking, rape and other extreme forms of sexual violence.

I implore the committee to see the work that women do at the grassroots as an essential part of brokering peace. I will illustrate this by drawing on examples of women’s rights organizations that The MATCH Fund currently supports.

  • During the 2014 protests in Ukraine, women’s organizations were the ones staffing hotlines and volunteering at pop-up medic centres. It is also these women’s organizations that are working hard to mitigate the rise in trafficking. Since the onset of the conflict, 1 in 10 Ukranians know someone who has been trafficked;
  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo,1.7 million women in a 2011 survey reported having been raped, most often by armed combatants. Midwives of a South Kivu women’s organization noticed that a significant number of the pregnant women with whom they worked were carrying the child of their rapist. Due to the midwives unique position within the community, this organization provided midwives with training to deliver trauma services to these rape survivors.
  • In Colombia, sexual violence is widespread and has been used by all sides in the conflict as a war strategy. A recent study situated the impunity rate for these crimes at 98%. Women’s groups worked tirelessly to pass a new law last year to protect survivors and to improve access to justice.

In spite of the fact that these organizations run wide and deep, responding in ways few others can, they remain the most underfunded asset in the international peace and security effort.

In April 2015, Canada announced an additional $5.5 million to address sexual and gender based violence in fragile and conflict-afflicted areas. As the most recent Government Progress Report on Canada’s Action Plan specifically states, “the empowerment of women in decision-making processes, including for conflict resolution, is central to Canada’s foreign policy.” This is a welcome and necessary commitment to be sure.

However, of the organizations that received this funding, not one of them is a women’s rights organization- and by that I mean an organization working within the community, led by women with the focus of supporting women and girls. We cannot empower women if we are unwilling to increase our direct support to women-led organizations in conflict zones.

I implore the committee: Canada must commit in a significant, long-term way to grassroots women’s rights organizations as they are essential assets in building lasting peace.

To conclude, I would also like to echo my support for the Global Acceleration Instrument for Women, Peace, and Security, which is on track to launch this fall.

This instrument is just one of the many ways we can work together to put much-needed funding into the hands of women in conflict areas. Propping up these organizations will ensure higher success in brokering peace and in keeping people safe.

Thank you for your time today, and would be happy to answer any further question members of the committee may have.

Thank you.

#16 Days: Progress on Women, Peace and Security Issues

“UN Women for Peace” march marking International Women’s Day in 2013. Photo credit: Mark Garten / United Nations.
“UN Women for Peace” march marking International Women’s Day in 2013. Photo credit: Mark Garten / United Nations.

Report Review: Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security (2014) by Security Council Report

Security Council Report, an independent non-for-profit organisation that provides “information about the activities of the UN Security Council and its subordinate bodies” for the stakeholders and the general public, published the 4th Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security in April 2014. This and preceding cross-cutting reports on women, peace and security specifically deal with women, peace and security issues and the way the Security Council addresses them. In general, the reports track the new work of the Security Council as it relates to women, peace and security matters, analyze relevant statistical information, and highlight relevant trends.

The fourth report is quite comprehensive in nature even though it focuses mostly on the developments in the last year. It starts by discussing and analyzing key developments at the thematic level in the following areas: Security Council activity on women, peace and security; “Arria-Formula” meeting on women, peace and security; field perspectives from gender practitioners in peacekeeping operations; and the work of the Special Representative on sexual violence in conflicts. Next, it dives into a cross-cutting analysis for 2013 by looking at Security Council resolutions, country-specific presidential statements, Secretary General’s reports on country-specific situations, and UN Mission mandates. Furthermore, it analyzes the application of UN’s Zero-Tolerance policy and the work of the several Security Council Sanctions Committees. Lastly, it briefly discusses Security Council’s dynamics as they relate to women, peace and security agenda. Continue reading “#16 Days: Progress on Women, Peace and Security Issues”

#16Days: Peace Talks, Peacebuilding and Women

Women peacebuilding
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, inducts Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Wangari Maathai, as UN Messenger of Peace. Photo credit: Mark Garten / United Nations.

Although over past two decades great strides have been made to include women in international, political, and security affairs, recent statistics demonstrate a lot of work still needs to be done. In 2012, UN Women published a report “Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence”, which demonstrates how little women have been engaged in the examined 31 peace processes from 1992 to 20011. It found that in all of these peace processes “only 4 per cent of signatories, 2.4 per cent of chief mediators, 3.7 per cent of witnesses and 9 per cent of negotiators” were women. In only five cases, the percentage of female negotiators was above 10 per cent.

Even years after the adoption of Resolutions 1325 in 2000, women are still excluded from peace processes. Indeed, several recent peace processes from 2008 to 2011 (Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iraq, and Yemen) did not include any women at all. Considering the prevalence of violence against women in these countries, the exclusion of women is a major failure. Their input would have been instrumental in helping to address the effects of the conflicts on women and in devising the most effective ways of including women in the subsequent peacebuilding efforts. Indeed, the lack of women representation in peace processes is a major issue since they map out the way peacebuilding will unfold in post-conflict era. Without an input from women, it is unlikely that women’s concerns will be addressed or their strengths will be properly drawn upon. This is unfortunate because women have much to contribute to the peace processes and subsequent peacebuilding efforts.

In her journal article “A Country of their Own: Women and Peacebuilding”, Theodora-Ismene Gizelis states that “the social roles of women for nurturing interpersonal relationships make them effective peacebuilders”. An examination of women’s contributions to peacebuilding and peace processes shows that Gizelis is correct to make such a claim. Indeed, the Accord Insight documented many roles that women performed in peacebuilding in several countries such Cambodia, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda, Papua New Guinea–Bougainville, Northern Ireland, Angola, Sudan, Indonesia–Aceh, and Somalia. In these countries, women have greatly contributed to peacebuilding by: “promoting consensus and inclusion as a key strategy, advancing broader issues of social justice, and building peace beyond the negotiating table”. At the negotiating table, they broadened the agenda by including issues such as, equality, access to land, and reconciliation. These issues are not of importance to the armed parties that are typically present at the negotiation table, but the solution to them is vital for achieving long-lasting peace. For instance, women in northern Uganda helped to prepare communities for the reconciliation and integration of ex-combatants by using prayer meetings and peace education. Moreover, the Northern Ireland’s Women’s Coalition (NIWIC) ensured that issues of victims’ rights and reconciliation were included in the Belfast agreement. Furthermore, in Somaliland in 1993 and in 1996, women lobbied elders to intervene to end the conflicts and mobilized funds for the peace meetings. Therefore, women have an important part to play in peacebuilding, but the discussion about their potential contribution should being at peace negotiations with proper input from the women themselves.


 

Margaryta Yakovenko is a recent graduate from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. She specializes in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and security sector reform. She is currently interning with Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada.

#16 Days: When sexual and gender-based crimes are committed in the context of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)  UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Sexual and gender-based crimes are difficult to prosecute and secure convictions for under any conditions. When they are committed as acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes — and are dealt with as part of the international justice system — the situation is even more fraught and complicated. However, the past year has seen positive steps taken toward improving the documentation, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes.

When individual countries lack the capacity to do so, the International Criminal Court (ICC).1 investigates and prosecutes sexual and gender-based crimes within the context of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In fact, six of the eight situations currently under investigation at the Court include charges for gender-based crimes. However, there have yet to be any convictions on sexual or gender-based charges (in fact, there has only been one conviction to date on any charges whatsoever).2

The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has previously recognized the importance of appropriately addressing sexual and gender-based crimes — and the challenges involved in the effective investigation and prosecution of them — by making it one of the key strategic goals in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP)’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2015. (It is strategic goal three: “enhance the integration of a gender perspective in all areas of our work and continue to pay particular attention to sexual and gender based crimes and crimes against children.”)

Continue reading “#16 Days: When sexual and gender-based crimes are committed in the context of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”