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International Women's Day: women at the heart of change

8 March 2018

On International Women’s Day, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that women and girls play a central role in peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts around the world. 

Often bearing the brunt of violent conflict, women and girls are regularly excluded from the discussions that seek to create peace. But evidence has shown that when they participate in peace processes, the positive returns are enormous – peace settlements are more inclusive and durable. 

Gender is a fundamental pillar of all Saferworld’s work. From international and national policy, land rights, elections, and community security, we work to ensure women’s voices are heard in every decision-making process, no matter how big or small, and that we understand and transform negative gender roles that perpetuate inequality, conflict and violence. We support and empower women-led groups and organisations to play an active role in peacebuilding, and we develop partnerships with organisations so we can learn from each other.

Our work on gender, peace and security: 

In South Sudan, we promote equal relationships between men and women and encourage conversations on issues around gender by hosting radio talk shows on gender-based violence and women’s rights. We also create women’s peace committees to provide safe spaces for women and girls who cannot speak openly elsewhere. In this way, we empower women to resolve some of the security challenges that they identify. In Somaliland, we support partners to build women’s understanding of and engagement in political processes like the 2017 presidential elections, and we work with women civil society groups on international dialogues such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women’s political campaign training in Hargeisa, Somaliland, supported by Saferworld. ©Kate Stanworth/Saferworld

In Yemen, we work with women to amplify their voices and become active members of their community through women action groups in the challenging context of war. Last year, we undertook research with partners on the role of women across the country as agents of change, and also looked into the effects of the war on their security and livelihoods. Despite the noticeable absence of Yemen in the UK National Action Plan on women, peace and security, we collaborated with Yemeni women’s organisations to ensure their voices were included in the consultation process.

In South and South East Asia, we have explored the cultural and political practices that marginalise women and girls in Nepal. Our current gender, security and development video series features interviews with women’s rights activists about their experiences overcoming discrimination and marginalisation. In Myanmar, recent research has shed light on the impacts of land confiscations on men and women and the role of women in land restitution.

In Central Asia, we work to strengthen relationships between communities and authorities in Tajikistan to tackle violence against women and other safety concerns stemming from long-standing patriarchal structures in society. Together with partners, we strive to make sure women’s voices are heard by decision-makers and that their major concerns are addressed.

Women take part in a problem solving exercise on youth violence in Tajikistan. ©Khusrav Zukhurov/Saferworld

Internationally, Saferworld actively engages with women, peace and security platforms, such as the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS UK) and the UN Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. This allows us to collaborate with activists from around the world on how women can meaningfully participate in peace processes.

Learn more about our work on gender and women:

Main image credits ©Luc T/Saferworld