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Many of our WASL partners, alongside other women peacebuilders, have pivoted their work to respond to COVID-19 and related issues: community awareness-raising, distributing supplies, calling for ceasefires, working to prevent domestic violence as people are quarantined or self-distancing at home, and more. Women peacebuilders are again on the frontlines, working to prevent the spread of a pandemic in their communities.
As COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gaps in services on the ground, and many women peacebuilders pivoted their work during the pandemic to deal with urgent humanitarian response, the question of whether development aid reaches local communities arose. Members of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) highlighted the need for change so that development aid can reach local communities and provide the basic services of food, healthcare, and education.
Canada’s Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, and Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, Jacqueline O’Neill joined WASL members in the conversation.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, women peacebuilders witnessed an increase in xenophobia and extremist messaging. Weakness in state infrastructure and response has left a vacuum which extremist actors have exploited for their own interests. Women peacebuilders are meeting this challenge by building a counter-narrative that is also grounded in the local culture, religion, and traditions.
“We need to be connected with you and establish new working methods for inclusive, sustainable peace,” remarked State Secretary Marianne Hagen from Norway who joined the 9th weekly call with the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL).
Read the full summary of the call.
Called the “shadow pandemic”, domestic violence has surged since the emergence of COVID-19. Globally, reports indicate a 25-33% increase in domestic violence with civil society and governments trying to address the crisis.
ICAN, after consultation with partners in the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) across 38 countries and a review of existing literature, offers key steps to governments and the international community for new initiatives and urgently needed reforms that can prevent and reduce domestic violence immediately and sustainably.
As the levels of domestic violence have soared globally since the COVID-19 outbreak, women peacebuilders have been the first to respond to the crisis in their own communities adapting their peacebuilding approaches to tackle the dual challenges of COVID-19 and domestic violence.
Across the range of countries, women peacebuilders consistently identified the issues of rising domestic violence and the need for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in light of this pandemic. In response ICAN facilitated two separate sessions on these topics to support in-depth analysis, cross regional exchange of learning and best practices, and strategic discussion.
“I truly believe that a small group, like ICAN, of very committed women, can get the message across that there is not going to be a sustainable solution to extremism without including women”
– Senator Mobina Jaffer
“ICAN has one agenda, and it is Peace.”
– Sri Lankan woman peacebuilder
“ICAN provides a safe open space and a healthy environment for discussions that will bring about the needed change.”
– Palestinian woman peacebuilder
“Through ICAN, our work reached international platforms for the first time, including the UN.”
– Iraqi woman peacebuilder
“ICAN brings together women that have worked with extremist groups and within very violent conflicts. I share and learn new strategies from them.”
– Ugandan woman peacebuilder
The diversity I found in ICAN helps me and nurtures my experience and enables me to go forward”
– Tunisian women peacebuilder
“ICAN helps us learn new strategies through sharing experiences with other women from different countries”
– Somali woman peacebuilder