News and Updates
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.
As some countries begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, for many others, respite is not on the horizon. During the eighth virtual meeting of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) on May 21, 2020, women peacebuilders highlighted some tough truths about worsening poverty, mismanaged Covid-19 funds, tragic events that have been largely ignored, and feelings of desertion by the international community.
A Global Solutions Exchange Workshop "Peacebuilding in the Age of Corona: What it Means and Why it Matters" As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps across conflict affected and fragile states, women-led peacebuilding organizations have been the first responders in their...
As weeks of lock downs, remote work, and stay-at-home orders turn into months, at ICAN we continue to regularly connect virtually with our partners in the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL).
On May 7, we were joined by H.E. Anne Linde, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, as the discussions focused on how the pandemic is impacting current peace processes.
June 19: Ten Years After the Humanitarian Law Project Decision – Fixing the Damage - Charity & Security Network June 17: Oxford International Development Society Podcast: Women in Peacemaking - Oxford International Development Society June 10: Resilience:...
How do Women Peacebuilders Cope with Rising Domestic Violence and the Humanitarian Impacts of COVID-19?
“Where is the State?”
With a deficient response from, and sometimes the complete absence of, governments and the international community, civil society and women peacebuilders across the world are taking the responsibility of responding to their communities needs.
However, they need the resources, recognition, and support of their governments and the international community. In the words of a peacebuilder from Cameroon, “civil society is there ready to take the lead, but by what means and by which roads.”
The fifth weekly virtual meeting of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) focused on women peacebuilders’ humanitarian response with guests including H.E. Ambassador Kåre Aas, Norwegian Ambassador to the US; Luc Duckendorf from the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Amjad Saleem from the International Federation of the Red Cross.
Read the full summary of the meeting.
How can people stay home when they are dependent on daily wages to feed their families? How can they wash hands if there is no soap or water? From Cameroon to Yemen, women are making soap, and tackling the lack of water. As first responders, women peacebuilders are trying to fill the vacuums and urgent basic needs in terms food, sanitization and security such as mediating ceasefires and calling for prisoners’ release.
On April 23, 2020. Assistant Secretary General Asako Okai, UNDP’s Crisis Bureau Director, and her colleagues joined the ICAN-hosted call with some 45 women peacebuilders across Asia, Africa, the Arab World and Latin America to discuss health care, livelihood and crisis management in the time of Corona.
Read the full summary of the meeting
The second weekly virtual meeting of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) continued the discussion of what women peacebuilders around the world are doing to respond to COVID-19. The conversation also revealed emerging trends in the way the pandemic is impacting peace and security, from reinforcing authoritarian practices to providing fuel for extremist narratives.
The discussion in the third WASL virtual meeting addressed the question: how is the pandemic exacerbating or alleviating xenophobia, ethno-nationalism, religious or other extremisms and are there gendered dimensions to this?
Around the world, women peacebuilders report an uptick in hate speech, xenophobia, and extremist messaging. In The Maldives, for example, extremists are recruiting by brainwashing people into believing the pandemic is the wrath of God for not following religious instruction. In Sri Lanka, Islamic burial rites are being denied despite complying with WHO guidelines and Muslims are being portrayed in mainstream media as spreading the disease. Elsewhere it is the government’s poor or biased response that is feeding into extremist narratives. In Cameroon, for example, responses threaten to exacerbate the conflict because only prisoners from certain regions were given clemency to alleviate the crowding in prisons.
Starting from April 2, 2020, and on weekly basis, some 30+ members of Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) gather for a two-hour virtual meeting.
Here you can download summaries of discussions that took place and know What the Women Say about the situation in their countries, ongoing challenges, early warning signs, and local women peacebuilders’ response.
As we watch our own leaders react, we at ICAN are reminded and humbled by the strength and dignity of our partners in the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). For years they have faced the threat of war and militarism, of displacement and life-threatening diseases, and at each turn, they have stepped up to the plate to be the first responders in their communities. To support them, we are adapting our activities to respond to the current crisis, while retaining our focus on inclusive peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism.
Please read the statement to know how ICAN is responding to COVID-19.
By Helena Gronberg
On April 2, 2020 some 40+ members of Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) gathered for a two-hour virtual meeting. The objective of this first virtual get-together was to share reflections and experiences as well as solidarity around how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting local women peacebuilders around the globe. It is evident that the crisis is driving many to yet again step up and lead the charge against the pandemic in their communities.
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.