Transformative Peace is Growing!
Transformative Peace is excited to announce that we’ve added two new staff members to our growing team. Tasha Liberman is our new Online Operational Manager, overseeing the design and management of all web content and working behind the scenes to ensure our Transformative Conversations run smoothly. As our new Senior Researcher, Megan Leigh Smith will support Transformative Peace’s strategic research initiatives and contribute to the development of new and ongoing programs. To learn more about our team and our work, visit our team page.
Women, Peace, and Security, Twenty Years On
Last year marked the twentieth anniversary of the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, which urges actors to increase the participation of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and post-conflict reconstruction, and calls on actors to deploy targeted measures to protect women and girls from gender based violence in conflict-affected contexts. Policymakers and thought leaders commemorated the occasion by reflecting on how to expand the impact of the WPS Agenda, including by broadening conventional definitions of gender to include men and gender and sexual minorities; recognizing that women’s involvement in peace and security depends on their equal access to all forms of justice, even in the absence of armed conflict; and building on the recent successes of the Security Council to deploy specific sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence in war zones and hold to account those who launch attach against women human rights defenders and peacebuilders.
Twenty years on, the WPS agenda remains as relevant as ever, and there is much more to be done in order for women around the world to feel the impact of the protections and provisions of UNSCR 1325 within their daily lived experiences. In late 2020, for example, intra-Afghan peace talks between the leaders of the Afghani government and the Taliban drew widespread calls to increase the participation of diverse women in these negotiations, which would undoubtedly contribute to sustainable peace and to more just and equitable conditions for Afghani women post-reconciliation. Despite a number of promising Security Council resolutions that emphasized the importance of women’s inclusion in this process, Afghani women continue to face violence and deep structural barriers.
The case study of Afghanistan emphasizes that there is still a deep need for WPS policy to be transformed into concrete gains at the national and local levels. Transformative Peace is committed to supporting this mission through its ongoing research and programs, which bring a holistic understanding of gender and conflict and seek to build the capacity of diverse actors to advance the WPS agenda.
Recognizing Women’s Agency in Peace and Conflict
The first month of the new year brought new opportunities for Transformative Peace to focus on the critical issue of advancing women’s inclusion in peace and security processes. Women have an important role to play in both formal and informal peace processes, and ensuring their meaningful participation requires a nuanced understanding of the particular social and cultural barriers to women’s engagement, as well as a commitment by peacebuilders to redress them. At the same time, there is often a failure to recognize that women can also hold agency as perpetrators of violence. Understanding women’s roles as perpetrators, supporters, or enablers of violence, as well as their complex motivations for doing so, is crucial for their safe and effective reintegration and reconciliation with communities.
Several of our programs last month focused on supporting governments, UN agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions to build capabilities in gender mainstreaming throughout peace and security programs:
Dr. Houda Abadi led a two day gender mainstreaming workshop for senior staff of the Morocco-based IOM FORSATY program. The workshop focused on deconstructing gender stereotypes within the Moroccan context, understanding how such stereotypes are restrictive and harmful to both women and men, and providing concrete tools to conduct contextually specific gender analysis. The workshop also examined different types of gender analysis framework to ensure equality in access and outcome, and to address discriminating social and cultural norms. The session also explored the role of toxic masculinity in maintaining harmful gender norms and why we need to engage men and boys to achieve gender equality.
On February 5, Maroc Hebdo published an interview with Dr. Houda Abadi on the need for a gendered approach to rehabilitation and reintegration for Moroccan women and children returning from Daesh. Morocco is currently in the process of repatriating several hundred female returned foreign terrorist fighters (RFTFs) and their children, but will not prosecute Moroccan women in Daesh territory as they were not combatants. Dr. Abadi shattered prevailing stereotypes about women’s involvement in violent extremist groups, which often paint female returning foreign terrorist fighters as being either passive victims of radicalization or driven by irrational motives. Instead, she called on Morocco to recognize women RFTFs as distinct and complex individuals with differentiated levels of agency and to partner with local communities and civil society to ensure that the distinct psychosocial, educational, vocational, and justice needs of women are met.
Dr. Abadi spoke virtually at the London School of Economics (LSE) masters’ course on Developments in International Conflict Resolution on the role of women in peace processes, focusing on Muslim majority countries undergoing political transitions. She stated that women’s rights should not be viewed in isolation but as part of the democratization and protection of human rights for all. She spoke about women’s rights within Islamic contexts and how they are articulated in Islamic political transitions, the importance of framing women’s rights within the Islamic legal framework to promote normalisation of these rights, and main takeaways and lessons learned from Afghanistan and other countries who have undergone political transitions within an Islamic context.
Coming Up Next Month
March 4 - Dr. Houda Abadi will give a guest lecture to the North Africa class at the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute on the changing landscape of violent extremism in North Africa.
March 5 - Transformative Peace will host its third Transformative Conversation with Karin Ryan, Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Special Representative on Women and Girls at The Carter Center, for a discussion on women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and how we can advance a more inclusive agenda.
Register here to attend the event.
March 30 - Dr. Abadi will give a guest lecture to the Gender and Development class at Emory University on Women, Peace, and Security: Challenges and Opportunities.