ADVANCEMENT OF THE WOMEN, PEACE, AND SECURITY AGENDA
STRENGTHENING THE POTENTIAL OF YOUNG WOMEN
Women, children, and the elderly are the main victims of war. Moreover, in wartime, women and girls are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence, in addition to facing other gender-based problems. The Russian Federation's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 increased the risks associated with violence against women and girls.
On 31 October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on "Women, Peace, and Security." The resolution affirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction. It also stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security.
To strengthen the ability of young women to resist stereotypes and discrimination and to involve them in decision-making processes at the local level, the NGO Internews Ukraine, with the support of UN Women in Ukraine, managed the local implementation of the "Project on strengthening the potential of young women from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions to promote the 'Women, Peace, and Security Agenda."
What challenges do women face during war?
In April 2022, women accounted for at least 60% of Ukraine's 7.7 million internally displaced persons. Forced displacement harms women by limiting employment opportunities, increasing unpaid work at home, and, as a result, by reducing their income and quality of life, as well as increasing their dependence on social benefits.
According to the recent study by UN Women, most women living in their home communities, or internally displaced women living in host communities, don't feel safe during wartime. Young women believe military attacks are now the main threat to their lives and physical and psychological security. Many women have faced a loss of income due to the war in Ukraine. There is also concern about the high risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
At the same time, women make up about 20% of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is the largest share in Europe. Many of them volunteer, hold critical government positions, as well as shoulder a great deal of professional and domestic work, contributing to peacebuilding and rebuilding local communities.
JOINING ACTIVE PUBLIC WORK
October 2021 saw the development of informal networks of Young Peacemaking Leaders of Ukraine with more than 60 active participants in each. Their first step was to develop an interactive online resource to introduce their activities.
Over the next two months, they launched an interactive and educational platform on combating gender-based violence as part of the national 16 Days of Combating Violence campaign.
The participants had the opportunity to voice their recommendations to the heads of target communities in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions regarding the inclusion of young women's particular needs in the development of local community policies. Their recommendations were included in the minutes of meetings of several territorial communities.
Fourteen young women leaders were officially included in working groups as community advisory and consulting bodies. This means that they will have a voice in decision-making in their communities.
Two young women leaders joined the regional coordination council of Donetsk Region on issues of family, gender equality, demographic development, combating human trafficking, preventing and combating domestic violence, and gender-based violence.
To promote the issues that concern young women affected by the war in Ukraine, members of the Network have created Facebook communities. They coordinate and highlight their activities, communicate, and initiate hashtag campaigns on social networks. Thus, under the hashtags #My_Heroine and #MyParticipation on Facebook and Instagram, they launched several campaigns to help women talk about their leadership and inclusion during the war.
Publications about the activities of young female leaders have also appeared in foreign media. An evacuee from the Dobropilsk community of Donetsk Region was the subject of an article in Ireland's Westmeath Examiner, which profiled her as a young teacher who continues to provide online instruction from abroad and take care of her family.
Regular hashtag campaigns, training activities, and both online and offline events have helped women to cooperate, conduct educational activities, attract new members, and work together on the development of their organization to improve the position of women in their communities.
JUST GETTING STARTED!
The project team and the Network of Young Peacebuilding Leaders are continuing to expand the participation of young women in decision-making processes and promoting the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda through a youth lens. Thus, by the end of 2022, there are plans for joint information campaigns of young women at various levels regarding the promotion of Agenda 1325.
Many young women have joined volunteer relief efforts: they deliver food and other items to people affected by the war and help internally displaced persons (IDPs) find housing. Some of them are the initiators or leaders of these initiatives.
The material was produced by Internews Ukraine with the support of UN Women in Ukraine as part of the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP), which is implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Twelve international partners support the Programme: the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, & Switzerland.