By: Mehreen Farooq, Technical Director, Peace and Security
Peacebuilding activities are more durable and sustainable when they include women, yet they remain critically under-engaged. On this International Day of Peace – we’re reflecting on 3 key questions to ask ourselves to help make peacebuilding activities more inclusive:
- Are activities scheduled in a time and space that is conducive to women’s engagement?
Because of COVID-19, many practitioners have shifted activities online. However, the digital divide is often gendered: women may not have equal access to the internet or smart phones to participate in virtual calls. To address this barrier, in Bangladesh, Counterpart and its local partners coordinate advocacy activities in courtyard settings – enabling outdoor, socially distant activities to take place.
- Do all stakeholders have equal skills and capacity to participate in a meaningful way?
In some of our activities, we have noticed that historically under-engaged populations lack opportunities to apply key skills such as public speaking or facilitating meetings. To address this challenge, we offer pre-workshop training for participants who would benefit from strengthening their capacity to participate and even lead key activities.
- Are there champions or local influencers to engage who can support greater inclusion?
Often, structural and cultural barriers prohibit women from engaging in peacebuilding activities. In Niger, for example, security sector engagement work has been dominated by men. To transform this social norm, Counterpart has worked with religious leaders and other traditional community leaders who have championed inclusive decision-making to encourage women and girls to participate in security dialogues with the security sector.