In Somalia, first up is the Somali Women Solidarity Organisation (SWSO) based in Kismayo, Jubaland. Highly respected, SWSO is all about women’s solidarity and making sure all women have a say in decisions that affect them. They have established a platform to raise women’s voices – especially important during election times – as well as advocating for women affected by the drought in Somalia. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
“Women in Kismayo play a critical role in brokering peace. Women’s position in Somali society is often contradictory – [they’re]expected to mobilise and arm sons and husbands. They are equally associated with teaching and parenting against violence, stepping in and disarming their kinsmen… [Women’s] ability to move in and out of conflict means they’re increasingly seen as relatively ‘neutral’, [meaning] women have a role in facilitating dialogue among conflicting parties.”
Luul Gure, Jubaland Platform Vice Chair
Next is Somali Women Studies Centre (SWSC) based in Mogadishu and Kismayo. SWSC builds women’s and girls’ skills and confidence, making sure they know – and have the confidence to advocate for – their rights.“Women are everyday peacebuilders. Empowering women and girls is critical to Somalia’s security, recovery and development,” Executive Director Shukria Dini told us. In 2022, SWSC is prioritising women’s participation in the elections and responding to gender-based violence cases. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
In Baidoa, Isha Human Rights Organization (IHRO) is creating a women’s unit for handling gender-based violence within communities to better ensure women’s safety at the state level in Somalia. Their vision is to end gender-based violence and achieve gender equality and empowerment for all: “There is no life without peace,” they told us. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
In Uzbekistan, Istiqbolli Avlod Namangan is part of a national network of women-led organisations, based in the Namangan region. They prioritise working with survivors of different types of violence including human trafficking. They offer legal, psychological and material support online and in-person, and they conduct legal workshops for migrants. We spoke to Director Rano Nuridinova about her work.
Working in the Jizzakh, Syrdarya and Samarkand regions is the Istiqlol Avlodi Center for Economic and Social Support. Focusing on gender, human rights and peacebuilding, their work involves raising awareness about human trafficking, promoting religious tolerance, as well as providing shelter for gender-based violence survivors and at-risk women and girls. Find them on Facebook and give them a follow on Twitter.
“Respect for women's rights is perceived and addressed differently in different countries...Not implementing women's rights and gender equality as well as the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious challenges to the advancement of women and exacerbates gender inequalities. All of these problems are impacting disadvantaged and vulnerable women and girls the most.”
Nazifa Kamalova, Director of Istiqlol Avlodi
In Kyrgyzstan, our partner Public Fund ‘DIA’ (Демилгелүү, ишкер аялдар) works in seven regions throughout the country. From their offices in Osh and Jalalabad, they work with women and girls from different ethnicities to promote peace, gender equality and human rights, and provide economic opportunities for women at the same time. Currently they are working with schools and parents to stop child marriage in Karasui, Uzgent and Osh. They are also providing grants for community initiatives in Osh, Chui and Naryn regions. Check out their Instagram and Facebook pages.
"Protecting the rights and interests of women and girls, identifying their needs during conflict or other humanitarian crises, is a working mechanism for attaining peace from individuals to the international level.”
Gulipa Borbieva, Project Staff
In Myanmar, activists and women-led organisations are leading the resistance movement since the military’s coup d'état in 2021. Read more about what they are facing in this comment piece.
In South Sudan, we are working with five amazing partners. In Bor, ChildBride Solidarity advocates against child, early and forced marriage and raises awareness of menstrual hygiene. In 2022, they are using radio campaigns to reach more people living rurally to educate and inform about forced marriages, gender-based violence, and sexual reproductive rights for women and girls.
In Central Equatoria State (Yei, Juba and Terekeka), Women for Change provides learning opportunities for people affected by crises, and works to improve food security and livelihoods (through tailoring and crafts like soap-making). “Everyone has a responsibility to educate and [inform] the masses about their human rights. Above all we ought to work together regardless of our tribe [or] region to achieve a peaceful equal and justice environment,” Viola, WFC’s Advocacy Officer told us. Like them on Facebook.
"Parents can make sure their home is experienced as a brave and safe space for their daughters. When girls know their parents are there to listen with empathy and love them unconditionally, they find the strength to speak up. This is where assertiveness skills are born and this creates a conducive environment for peace. Together we can."
Root of Generations works in Kapoeta South and Budi County (with an office in Juba) to champion women’s empowerment, human rights, access to services, and build entrepreneurship skills among women. In 2022, they are focusing on ending all forms of gender-based violence, including child and forced marriages, domestic violence, harmful traditional practices, and physical and sexual violence. They do this through advocacy for improved legal redress, awareness and community led-action, and calling on the government to end all forms of trafficking. Follow them on Twitter. Like them on Facebook.
"Peace without women will not work."
Teresa Apule, resident of Palakal, Kapoeta town
"We can’t remain silent anymore. I had hope that one day our rights as women will be given, but it is not going to happen until we women take the lead."
Mary Lobalu, Deputy Chair, Budi County
"Women’s rights and peacebuilding is important because together we can bring peace in our families and the community."
Marcelina Nadio, resident of Lohomit village, Budi County
Jonglei Women Empowerment Programme supports women and girls throughout payams (villages) in Bor County through advocacy on women’s rights, entrepreneurial activities and livelihood activities. In 2022, they are holding peace dialogues for communities and authorities. Ajah Garang told us that: “Unless we know our rights as women, we will have no say in the matters of our homes and communities. Educate us, so that we can speak on our own.”
In Juba, Women Advancement Organisation (WAO) believes that women have the power to fight against discrimination, and that meaningful change can be championed by women themselves. In 2022, WAO is training women in computer and entrepreneurial skills to improve their employability and income opportunities. They are focusing on gender-based violence prevention, and improving the livelihoods of women and youth. Follow them on Twitter.
“We need to know the challenges that women face to ensure sustainable peace. We need to identify the real needs of young women so that they are not excluded from these processes.” Elizabeth Yuol Bech, Peace Mediator, Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement, Adjumani District (Adjumani Refugee Women Peace Mediators' Network)
In Uganda, the Women’s International Peace Centre works with partners in conflict and post-conflict contexts to catalyse women’s power for peace by integrating research, documentation, holistic healing, skills and movement building as well as advocacy. They are currently promoting the implementation of Uganda’s National Action Plan III on Women, Peace and Security at the national level and in Karamoja, particularly Kotido and Moroto districts. They are working with 20 national women peace champions (influential women from diverse sectors and regions) and 100 women peace mediators (diverse women leaders and peacebuilders) in Karamoja to lead the awareness campaign on NAP III. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
“It is important to promote women’s effective participation in decision-making on peace and humanitarian assistance as well as contribute to gaps between often isolated local women and larger women’s rights organisations.”
Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Executive Director, Women’s International Peace Centre
“For us to realise the meaningful participation of women in conflict-affected communities, we must ensure inclusivity of different groups/categories of women in peacebuilding and decision-making spaces and ensure that their priorities are addressed.”
Sharon Eryenyu, Communications Officer, Women’s International Peace Centre
“I would love to see the full involvement of women at all levels. I also want to see them engaged and involved in conflict resolution initiatives.”
Rosemary Igira, Peace Mediator, Kotido District
“We need to ensure that women play a key role in the design and implementation of peacebuilding activities.”
Esther Wasagali, Project Officer, Women’s International Peace Centre
In Kampala, Coalition for Action on 1325 (CoACT) works on peacebuilding and conflict prevention, supporting civil society organisations to make the women, peace and security agenda a reality in Uganda. In 2022, CoACT is ‘localising’ Uganda’s National Action Plan III to another 15 districts across the country. They are doing this through establishing and training peace committees, and training young people on peacebuilding. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
“Because women are in civil society, they’re often not related to political parties or military parties but they want to have a voice because they’re taking responsibility when others are talking about power. So it’s kind of that duality of power and responsibility, saying ‘we have a voice as well, and we have needs, and we have solutions to bring to the table.’”
In the north, Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) prioritises peacebuilding and transitional justice for women. In 2022, they are supporting women who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army as they reintegrate into society. GWED-G is also training young women in practical apprenticeships. Follow them on Twitter. Like them on Facebook.
“Without women’s involvement in the peace and security of a nation, there is no peace.”
In Yemen, war isn’t the only threat to women’s rights organisations and activism, as our Yemen Country Manager explores in this interview. In Aden, To Be Foundation for Rights & Freedoms is working with women in prisons and vulnerable women. They provide training and financial grants for women to improve their lives. One of To Be’s priorities in 2022 is to protect women human rights defenders and provide them with material, psychological and legal support. “We’re holding an open day for International Women’s Day to support women working for an active role in society, creating a safe space for them, honouring women – including thank you banners, purple scarves for all.” Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
In Hodeida, Social Development Hodeida Girls Foundation works on women and girls’ health, food and nutrition, protection and small enterprises. This year they want to continue helping young people and women into jobs. “Comprehensive peace begins with the inner peace of every family, and every family is based on women,” Buthaina Al Salwi told us. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.
“Societies flourish when women have their rights.”
Hanan Bammashous, Social Development Hodeida Girls Foundation
In Marib, the Marib Girls Foundation was founded in 2016 by a group of Yemeni activists. This year, they are hosting the Sheba Conference for Women Entrepreneurs to create entrepreneurship opportunities for youth and women. They also plan to implement more programs to support women and girls’ involvement in the peacebuilding process. Find them on Facebook and give them a follow on Twitter.
“Women are bearing the burden of this war. They must have a voice and their full rights in all aspects of life. Women are an essential partner in the development and construction of society. Women’s right to participate must be guaranteed and present.”
Mohammed Assadi, Assistant Director of Programmes and Projects, Ma'rib Girls Foundation
In Hadramout, Yemen Women Union is a non-profit women’s organisation working to protect survivors of gender-based violence and mitigate the impact of conflict and wars on women. To reach their goal, they provide necessary life skills workshops for women as well as hosting sports and culture events in their office in Al-Mukalla city. Find them on Facebook.