The COVID-19 pandemic is a conflict and crisis multiplier. It has aggravated the root causes of conflicts and crises, including economic inequalities, food insecurity, and the unavailability of basic social services such as health care and education. Funding earmarked for peacebuilding programmes has been diverted and gender equality, which is a major driver of conflicts, has been exacerbated. At the onset of the pandemic, women and youth peacebuilders were on the front line. However, they remain unrecognized, underfunded, and excluded in decision-making. To make matters worse, they face attacks and repression from authoritarian governments and armed groups who have taken advantage of the global health crisis to gain more power.
This is a critical time for the Compact to accelerate WPS-HA commitments. To do so, the Compact must call on policymakers, especially governments, to ensure local women’s and youth’s participation in peace negotiations and the implementation of peace agreements – and link formal and informal peace processes. The Compact must also challenge the long-established humanitarian system to re-design humanitarian response, so that crisis-affected populations do not remain voiceless recipients of relief goods and services but are empowered to participate in decision-making.
Local women and young people have a profound understanding of their countries’ peace and security situation, gender and power relations, and humanitarian needs, because they live this reality every single day. When local populations are able to shape the implementation of the peace, security and humanitarian agenda, it becomes inclusive, participatory, intersectional, and it fosters strong ownership by local communities.
We need to empower local women and youth to design and implement humanitarian responses and Women, Peace and Security commitments to effectively respond to violent conflicts, the pandemic, and other humanitarian crises. To facilitate this, experts need to transfer their skills and knowledge and share their resources so that local populations can lead their own initiatives. As the Compact, we need to honour the agency, commitment and passion of local communities and get Members States and the donor community to provide funding for local actors in a predictable and transparent manner.
Global Network for Women Peacebuilders wants everyone – Member States, the United Nations, regional organizations, the private sector, and the donor community – to acknowledge, value, and support civil society, including through funding. We want governments to guarantee our safety and protection as we work together to transform the commitments of the past decades into action. This is why the unique broad composition of the Compact is important; it will ensure a more inclusive and bolder, yet realistic, vision for the Compact throughout the coming five years.
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InfluencHER: A Force for Global Peace