“Women in Peace” & International Women’s Day 2018

International Women’s Day invites us to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In time for this occasion, James W. Gould, PhD, Professor Emeritus, History and International Relations at Scripps College, Claremont, CA, and his team launched the Women in Peace website (www.womeninpeace.org).

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It includes birthdates and short biographies of women peacemakers from nearly 200 countries, along with their photographs and pertinent quotes about peace. They also have compiled for the first time information about over 1000 women peace activist events. These efforts will definitely be useful for peace education! Indeed, a section of the website is dedicated to education and offers some tools such as this interesting map that presents a selection of women peacemakers by region:


Since the groundbreaking UN Security Council resolution 1325, calling for women’s participation in peacebuilding, was passed 17 years ago, there has been a growing number of studies and reports that underscore the significant role women can play in sustaining peace.  Research shows that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict, and high rates of violence against women correlates with outbreaks of conflict. Nevertheless, actions for women’s inclusion, leadership and protection remain inadequate. The latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report finds that gender parity is over 200 years away if we pursue business as usual… As a result, this year, the International Women’s Day campaign theme is #PressforProgress. Now, more than ever, there is a strong call-to-action to reduce the gender gap in all aspects of life: from access to health and education to political power or earning potential.

Posted in Education, Fragile States, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Girls, Global Citizenship Education, Peace, Peace Education, Peacebuilding, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Global citizenship education in crisis situation: 5 main recommendations

Happy to announce the release of a study I conducted for UNESCO/Education Sector on the promotion and implementation of global citizenship education in crisis situations, available soon online.

Promotion and implementation of GCED in crisis situationsCrisis situations affect the realization of human rights of many people and communities across all regions of the world. In this context, and with the rise of political and ideological extremism including extremist nationalism, many countries are struggling to learn to live together and embrace the cultural diversity of their societies. In the face of protracted conflicts or refugee crises, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure our societies and national education systems transmit values of solidarity beyond national borders, empathy, and a sense of belonging to a common humanity – which are core elements promoted through Global Citizenship Education (GCED).

Within UNESCO’s relevant areas of work, GCED is a powerful approach to education that can empower people to recover from crises and transform their communities into peaceful and sustainable societies. This includes other specific educational approaches that provide effective entry points for promoting GCED, such as education for international understanding, peace and human rights education. UNESCO supports Member States, including those affected by crisis situations, in achieving progress towards Target 4.7 within the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to do so, UNESCO commissioned a desk study that aimed at reviewing existing research on the promotion and implementation of GCED and related programs in countries affected by crisis situations, with particular attention to initiatives benefiting the refugee population.

This study unveils the key challenges these programs encounter in such contexts, as well as promising practices that can guide the design and implementation of future GCED in crisis situations. This report is a synthesis of this desk study and supports the evidence that, after analyzing the context and the available means, GCED and related programs can and should be systematically adapted and implemented in crisis situations, including in response to refugee crises.

Five main recommendations for GCED in crisis situations, it should:

  1. Be contextualized/pragmatic:
  • Responding to local needs including through a needs’ assessment
  • Taking into account realities and constraints due to the crisis situation
  1. Be inclusive and participative (human rights‐based):
  • Involving all stakeholders
  • Developed and sustained in collaboration with local communities
  • Reaching out with an increased attention to vulnerable groups
  1. Be holistic/systemic:
  • Covering the local/national and global dimensions
  • Be integrated into various sub‐topics
  • Be implemented in a whole‐school approach
  1. Be adjustable and based on feedback and evaluation:
  • Benefiting from feedback and evaluation processes to correct shortcomings
  • Include the provision for periodic review and renewal
  1. Be backed by supportive and sustainable policies and strategies:
  • Embedded in policy with wide stakeholder buy‐in
  • Supported by pre‐service and continuing in‐service teacher training
  • Backed by a resource mobilization strategy and long‐term funding
  • Supported by monitoring/evaluation and research based on quantitative and qualitative indicators
  • Scalable with follow‐up and quality education
Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Child Protection, Education, Fragile States, Global Citizenship Education, Human Rights Education, International Development, Peace Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

“Victories over Violence, Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls,” a practitioners’ manual

Women’s Learning Partnership just released an interesting practitioners’ manual Victories over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls (authors: Mahnaz Afkhami, Haleh Vaziri). 

Women’s Learning Partnership is a nonprofit organization consisting of 20 autonomous national partner organizations based in the Global South, particularly in Muslim-majority societies, dedicated to women’s advancement and political participation. Here is a short video presenting this organization:

Educating for Safety and Peace is a key to this issue of gender-based violence:

Gaps between passing legislation and operationalizing the human rights of women and girls remain. Perhaps the most significant effort to close these gaps centers on education in the sense of both consciousness-raising and the development of professional expertise. Grassroots educational endeavors must help communities fully grasp the extent of violence and the short- and long-term harm done not only to victims but also to the society at large. Education geared towards professionals must enable them to acquire not only a body of expert knowledge and a skills set, but also, and of equal importance, a gendered perspective to apply to the tasks of preventing violence against females and addressing its impact on victims, perpetrators and society as a whole.”

The manual includes 16 sessions which unfold in a progression—moving from violence at home or in the private sphere, to the community or public space, to the transnational and international arenas. Case studies in each session are drawn from actual events and feature stories set in societies as diverse as Haiti, Malaysia, Nepal, and the United States.

This enables the facilitator and participants to explore the linkages between violence in these three realms—the private, public and global—while underscoring the point that gender-based human rights violations are ubiquitous and defy cultural, economic, ethnic, political, religious and other divisions.

Within each session, the case study serves to spark conversation about the causes and consequences of violence against women and girls, the choices that victims make to survive and re-build their lives, as well as the measures practitioners take in addressing these human rights violations. Following the case studies are “questions for discussion,” and all but the last two sessions feature learning exercises.

The resulting dialogue allows the participants to identify and prioritize their concerns and to recognize obstacles as they strive to prevent violence and to vindicate the human rights of those victimized by it.”

Here are the different sessions available in the manual:

Section A: Violence in the Private Sphere

  • Session 1: Meeting and Greeting to Create a Learning Community
  • Session 2: Verbal and Psychological Abuse at Home
  • Session 3: Mistreatment of Domestic Workers
  • Session 4: Intimate Partner Violence
  • Session 5: Female Genital Mutilation
  • Session 6: Forced Marriage and Child Brides
  • Session 7: Murder in the Name of Honor

Section B: Violence in the Community

  • Session 8: Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces
  • Session 9: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
  • Session 10: Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Session 11: Hate Crimes against Lesbians
  • Session 12: Prostitution

Section C: Violence by the State, Across Borders and in the Global Arena

  • Session 13: Trafficking for Sex Slavery
  • Session 14: Rape as a Weapon of War
  • Session 15: The Roles and Rights of Women and Girls in Peacemaking and Post-war Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolution 1325
  • Session 16: Conclusions, Evaluation of the Experience and Recommendations

The manual is available in English and in French, both versions can be downloaded here:

Posted in Afghanistan, Africa, Child Protection, Education, Gender Based Violence, Girls, Girls' Education, Human Rights Education, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Next For Afghanistan?

Parliamentary Elections in Kabul, September 2010 © Fahimeh Robiolle

Afghans are getting ready to vote for their next president in a few hours. As David Loyn (BBC) reports, the Afghan election will see “the biggest security operation mounted in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.” The results of this election will be highly scrutinized and the international community is wondering if Afghanistan can hold a credible election… While there is a widespread concern about ballot stuffing, serious efforts have been invested in ensuring that attempts to rig the poll will fail. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the vote and there were a string of attacks leading up to it, but security at this election will be tighter than in previous votes. Media reports suggest that the majority of the people in Afghanistan are looking forward to casting their votes despite threats of terror attacks.

In this climate of uncertainty, International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for urgent humanitarian and development aid investment to ‘protect fragile gains’ in Afghanistan. Its latest report, What Next for Afghanistan?, warns against fatal drift in 2014. It draws on more than 25 years of experience of operating in Afghan communities and surveyed over a hundred Afghan members of IRC staff.

Against a backdrop of deep aid cuts and wavering commitments from donors, the report makes specific recommendations to improve the delivery of aid to protect and build on the fragile gains of the last decade – from education to health care to other essential community-based services.

David Miliband, president and CEO of the IRC, said, “It is extraordinary that just 0.025 per cent of the estimated cost of military operations in Afghanistan could provide critical assistance for 5 million Afghans this year.* [UK figure is 1.75 percent of UK military spending over ten years.] We can’t afford to lose the fragile gains of the last decade and we don’t have to.”

He also adds that “conflict has torn at the fabric of Afghanistan for generations and a great deal of blood and treasure has been spent in the last decade. What we need now is urgent and sustainable investment to support the Afghans in securing their own future. Despite real security concerns the international community must not turn its back on the Afghan people. The end of international military operations in Afghanistan is the time to redouble humanitarian efforts, not scale them back.”

The report calls on the international community to stand beside the Afghan people as international troops leave the country:

  • Five million Afghans need lifesaving support, such as food and emergency medical care,
  • 4 million have chronic longer terms needs, including safety from conflict, regular employment and access to health care,
  • 650,000 Afghans are displaced within the country and an additional 2.5 million are living as refugees in neighboring countries, unable to return home.

The IRC report details specific recommendations, urging the international community to:

  1. Make a long-term commitment to the people of Afghanistan.
  2. Support millions in need by making high-return investments at the local level with effective community-based programs.
  3. Break the cycle of displacement through refuge, resettlement and asylum for vulnerable Afghans who cannot yet safely return home, and target those who have returned with concentrated support.
  4. Respond quickly to lifesaving humanitarian and life-building development needs.
  5. Use limited resources effectively. Aid agencies must coordinate and share information so that assistance reaches all in need.
  6. Create a plan to align humanitarian and development response by listening to the needs of the people and draw on existing frameworks to create a comprehensive plan.

These recommendations were developed with and are supported by the IRC’s Afghanistan Taskforce: Madeleine Albright, Sir John Holmes, M. Farooq Kathwari, Kathleen Newland, Milbrey Rennie, Gideon Rose, Maureen White, and James Wolfensohn.

Read the full report ‘What Next For Afghanistan’ here.

* Total US financial costs of $1.6 trillion over 12 years is an estimate from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. The UN-OCHA-led humanitarian community is seeking $406 million through the Common Humanitarian Action Plan to provide the 5 million most vulnerable Afghans with lifesaving assistance in 2014. The sum $406 million is 0.025 per cent of $1.6 trillion. The UK Parliament Defence Committee’s 4th report estimated operations in Afghanistan cost the military £14 billion over ten years. The sum $406 million is 1.75 per cent of £14 billion at current exchange rates.

Source: BBC,  International Rescue Committee

Posted in Afghanistan, Conflict Management, Elections, Fragile States, Peacebuilding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding: new International Alert report

International Alert  just released a new report, Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding by Henri Myrttinen, Jana Naujoks, Judy El-Bushra. This report calls for a more nuanced understanding of the role gender plays in peacebuilding.

This report is part of a three-year research project by International Alert, Gender in Peacebuilding, aimed at deepening and expanding understanding on gender and peacebuilding, from a ‘relational’ perspective, addressing the links between gender and social relations. Focusing on Burundi, Colombia, Nepal and Uganda, the research examines four thematic focus on four areas of peacebuilding, and how these issues interrelate to peacebuilding and gender:

  • access to justice (including formal, informal, traditional and transitional justice);
  • economic recovery (especially of ex-combatants and of returnee populations of refugees, abductees or internally displaced persons (IDPs));
  • inter-generational tensions and conflict; and
  • permutations and continuum of violence (e.g. self-inflicted, interpersonal, domestic, sexual and gender-based, criminal, communal and political violence).

The findings of the research on Uganda, Renegotiating the ‘ideal’ society, were published last month. Research on Burundi, Colombia and Nepal will follow in the coming months.

Gender has long been recognized as a key factor in both violent conflict and peacebuilding, and is a common subject in academic and policy discussions. The importance of tackling sexual and gender-based violence is now widely acknowledged, as is the fact that men, women and sexual and gender minorities have different roles, experiences and vulnerabilities in conflict.

So why is ‘gender’ still so often used as shorthand for just ‘women and girls’? And why are women and girls so commonly treated as one homogenous group, with identical experiences? This kind of over-simplification not only excludes women from decision-making processes, but disregards their role in peacebuilding and violence. It is also not possible to truly understand the role played by gender in conflict and peace without bringing men – as men – into the analysis, and in particular examining men’s relationships to different forms of violence, both as perpetrators and as victims. The same goes for sexual and gender minorities, for whom conflict and post-conflict periods can be highly precarious but may also offer new spaces and opportunities in society.

Re-thinking gender in peacebuilding highlights the need for a ‘gender-relational’ approach. This means not just moving away from equating gender with only women and girls, but also examining the complex relationships between gender and other aspects of people’s identities, such as age, social class, sexuality, disability, ethnic or religious background, marital status and where they live. The field research showed numerous possibilities of what a gender-relational approach can mean in practice and highlight the complexities of addressing gender identities and dynamics and peacebuilding – at the personal, local, national and international level.

Some broad lessons for peacebuilding practice emerge from this research and are detailed in the report:

  • Understanding the context;
  • Identifying who to work with and how;
  • Identifying best ways of working;
  • Applying a gender-relational approach to different sectors and themes; and
  • Implications for organisational structures, policies and practices.

Source: International Alert

Posted in Africa, Conflict Management, Fragile States, Gender, Gender Based Violence, Peacebuilding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Women, Men, and Peace: new issue of the Alliance for Peacebuilding online publication

The Alliance for Peacebuilding just released the third issue of their free semi-annual online publication, Building Peace: A Forum for Peace and Security in the 21st Century. This last issue, Women, Men, and Peace, explores questions of gender and peace through the first-hand realities of peacebuilders across the world. The first legal framework of its kind, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 marked a meaningful step toward gender inclusion in the peacebuilding world and its implementation is significant. Evidenced continually, inclusive peace processes are overwhelmingly more effective in gaining and sustaining peace. Inside are the stories of men and women working towards achieving this ideal, in their words.

Women, Men, and Peace is dedicated to gender equality and a world where women and men collaborate to achieve lasting peace in conflict contexts and features a series of compelling articles, including:

  • Azra Jafari, Afghanistan’s only female mayor, shares her experience with gender and peace;
  • Don Steinberg of World Learning and previous deputy administrator of USAID discusses of the reality of men in peacebuilding from his experience on the ground;
  • Kristen Gresh, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, tells us the story behind the exhibit She Who Tells a Story that introduced the pioneering work of twelve leading contemporary Arab and Iranian women photographers; and
  • Valerie M. Hudson, a professor of political science, offers an intriguing piece, Secure Women, Secure States, that explores the connection between the status of women and peace. In a series of empirical analyses over 140 nation-states, she found with her colleagues that “the overall level of violence against women was a better predictor of state peacefulness, compliance with international treaty obligations, and relations with neighboring countries than indicators measuring the level of democracy, level of wealth, and civilizational identity of the state:”

“A policy implication of the research findings regarding the link between gender equity and state security is the empowerment of women and girls. If society rejects impunity for violence against women and champions equal voice and equal representation for women in all important decision making, from the home to the state, these old, dysfunctional templates will crumble. The security of women influences the security of states in a way that we, as a world, must finally recognize and act upon. Just as former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that the subjugation of women is a direct threat to the security of the United States, so the world must develop its own Hillary Doctrine, or pay the price in national and international insecurity.” Valerie M. Hudson, Secure Women, Secure States

Mother, Daughter, Doll series | Boushra Almutawakel (Yemeni, born in 1969) 2010 | Photograph, chromogenic print (archival C-print) © Boushra Almutawakel | Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Source: Alliance for Peacebuilding

Posted in Afghanistan, Fragile States, Gender Based Violence, Peace, Peace Education, Peacebuilding, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Afghanistan: rebuilding girls’ education after decades of conflict

World Education Blog

Nahida, a school principal in Kabul, is the third participant in our ten-week # TeacherTuesday campaign . In Afghanistan, conflict has raged for decades, cultural opposition to girls’ schooling is deep-seated, and education for girls was banned altogether under the Taliban. Nahida describes how she has struggled for 25 years to defend and improve girls’ education in the face of gender bias and conflict that still affect her work every day.

After graduating from Kabul University in the late 1980s, Nahida became a teacher. But then the Taliban came to power.

Under the Taliban: a secret school for girls
“It was their policy to close all the schools for females. For me, it was difficult to go to school to teach. When I went to my school, the principal was a mullah and he didn’t allow me to enter and asked me after that not to come to school.  But…

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