To ensure that women’s work at the frontlines is valued and understood, it is essential for their experiences to be amplified
Peacebuilders Interviews and Stories
In the war-torn city of Mosul, Iraq, the scars of conflict run deep. The rise and fall of ISIS left behind a community fractured by violence. ISIS male fighters were killed, captured, or fled, but the women they married, and their children remained. Referred to as “ISIS-associated families”, they are stuck in limbo, without legal status and facing ostracism and isolation.
The challenge of reintegrating these families into society is a daunting task, but the Odessa Organization for Women’s Development (Odessa) – a partner of ICAN and member of WASL- is making significant strides in bridging this divide.
The ongoing war in Syria has resulted in the world’s largest refugee crisis with more than 13 million people forcibly displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Kilis, a Turkish border city, is the main point of entry from Syria and is home to around 200,000 Syrians.
Kareemat, a women-led peacebuilding organization in Kilis, Turkey, is making a profound impact on Syrian refugee women and their families. Supported by ICAN, Kareemat addresses the challenges of displacement, isolation, and economic hardships through psychological support, language classes, and economic empowerment resources, fostering integration and reducing tensions between Turkish and Syrian communities.
Self-Help Groups, Skills Learning and Psychosocial Support: WPSO Provides a Lifeline to Afghan Women
Despite staggering challenges and limited space to operate, the Women, Peace, Studies Organization (WPSO) continues to provide support for women in every province of Afghanistan.
An Association of Liberian Women Peacebuilders Gain Visibility and Legitimacy Resolving Community Disputes
ICAN’s Senior Program Officer, Stacey Schamber, and WASL member and Executive Director of WEDOL, Rosaline Cassell, spoke about the far-reaching impacts of the She Builds Peace campaign in Liberia.
WEDOL launched She Builds Peace with a parade and panel discussion in Margibi County, attracting over 300 participants, including the police and local authorities. The event garnered public recognition for Liberian women peacebuilders and opened dialogue about how they can be supported and protected. On the back of the launch, WEDOL also established a “village savings and loan association” (VSLA) for women peacebuilders. Through the association, the members have taken the lead in resolving community-level conflicts; they are working with local chiefs and gaining visibility and legitimacy for their roles.
ICAN’s Senior Program Officer, Stacey Schamber, and WASL member and President of PCID, Amina Rasul, in conversation about the She Talks Peace podcast, part of the global She Builds Peace campaign.
Funded by ICAN’s Innovative Peace Fund (IPF), AWAPSA launched a project across Kenya’s coastal counties to increase awareness of SGBV, educate women and girls on how to report instances of SGBV, and facilitate the reporting of cases to the police. One of the most significant and unforeseen outcomes of AWAPSA’s project was the establishment of Kenya’s first special court for handling SGBV cases, which opened in March 2022, at Shanzu Law Courts, Mombasa.
Marie-Joëlle Zahar has been an ICAN Board Member since 2019. In this interview, she reflects on her early experiences during the war in Lebanon and how they shaped her journey in the world of conflict resolution, peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and gendered work. Marie-Joëlle shares stories of her time as a Senior Expert on the Standby Team of Mediation Experts at the UNDPPA, what it was like being one of the few women in international mediation spaces, and her advice for the next generation of women peacebuilders and WPS practitioners. Read more to view the full conversation.
On June 2, 2021, the Coalition for Action on 1325 (CoACT) and the Embassy of Sweden in Kampala hosted a ‘Democracy Talks’ event to discuss youth participation in democratic processes in Uganda. The event was the culmination of over a year of CoACT’s efforts to mobilize youth to build sustainable peace in Uganda. Since May 2020, CoACT has implemented a program to increase inclusiveness and youth participation in election processes, funded by ICAN’s Innovative Peace Fund (IPF).
“We need a special intervention, we need our country back, it’s becoming lawless”, warns women’s rights and peace activist, Hamsatu Allamin, WASL member and Founder of Allamin Foundation. The situation in northeast and northwest Nigeria demands urgent international attention, not only as a matter of humanitarian urgency but also for its impact on international peace and security.
“We are not afraid, we are resisting”: A strong message from the Director of Myanmar’s Gender Equality Network
At 8pm every evening since February 1, 2021 hundreds of thousands across Myanmar bang pots and pans to demonstrate their non-violent resistance to the military coup. This symbolic act is part of the Red Ribbon campaign, a nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement. The movement’s message is clear, explains May Sabe Phyu, Director of the Gender Equality Network (GEN) and a member of WASL: “We are not afraid; we are resisting the coup.”
“Women peacebuilders run to the problem when everyone else is running away,” said ICAN’s CEO and Founder, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini. This statement could not be truer of award-winning Cameroonian peacebuilder, Esther Omam. Esther’s career has seen her go from development worker to humanitarian responder to mediator and peacebuilder, in the South-West region of Cameroon.
On the morning of Friday 16th October, the Abductees’ Mothers Association celebrated a major victory when Yemen’s warring parties completed the largest prisoner exchange in the history of the five-and-a-half-year long conflict. In a two-day process, 1,056 individuals held by both the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government were released and transferred home. For many years, this coalition of mothers has been the only hope for Yemen’s forcibly disappeared.
On September 7, 2020, a Turkish court sentenced a man to life in prison for carrying out the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Years Day in 2017. 39 people lost their lives in the early hours of that day—including Dr. Khedijah Arfaoui’s son and daughter-in-law, Mohamed and Senda. Debates surrounding a moratorium on the death penalty have re-surfaced in Tunisia but Arfaoui continues to advocate for non-violence and remains opposed to the death penalty. Read the full story.
“I often dream the jasmine returns to Syria to decorate and perfume our streets.”
As the Syrian regime rained barrel bombs on her hometown in Syria, Najlaa and her family were forced to flee to Turkey where she established the first organization led by a Syrian woman to help other women refugees with literacy, economic empowerment, and psychosocial support.
Peace Hero Najlaa El Sheikh speaks to ICAN about her journey, her work, and her dreams.
How Yemeni Mothers Succeeded Where Everyone Else Failed.
Thousands of young men are being forcibly disappeared in Yemen, and mediation efforts by the United Nations envoys, the Red Cross, and many other international organizations have not been successful. The only successful group so far is a coalition of Yemeni mothers, the Abductees’ Mothers’ Association.
“Families would call us [CSOs] and we inform paramedics”
From the frontlines of a conflict that has long been forgotten by global powers, Libyan women continue to provide support and promote peace, and remain excluded from peace talks.
We spoke to Yemeni peace activist Muna Luqman, co-founder of the Women Solidarity Network and member of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), about the war in Yemen, its devastating ramifications, and about the strength of Yemeni women in the face of this destruction.
Mira Kusumarini talks to ICAN about C-SAVE’s efforts to alter the lives of returnees and prepare their communities to accept them.
Nancy Yammout speaks to ICAN about Rescue Me’s efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners found guilty of terrorism —and how, over nine years, they’ve engaged with some 680 prisoners, and been pivotal in blocking their re-recruitment into terror groups.
Renowned documentary filmmaker Deeya Khan is recognized as a leader in the entertainment industry and on the human rights and peace-building scene. She spoke to us about her work, her vision and what she’s learned about extremism by confronting it face-to-face.
Mediating a Better Peace:
ICAN’s Pilot Executive Seminar on the ‘how to’ of Gendered and Inclusive Peace Processes Got off to a Flying Start.
For her persistence in fighting against the rise of violent extremism and radicalization of young people, Tunisian advocate and entrepreneur Ahlem Nasraoui has been selected as one of forty Peace Ambassadors to attend the One Young World Summit 2018.
As the Saudi-led coalition storms the airport compound of Yemen’s main port Hodiedah, in attempts to recapture the city which is considered the lifeline for food and medicine imports into Yemen, fears mount for the safety of its 400,000 residents. “Now we focus on Hodeidah,” says Muna Luqman, founder and director of Food4Humanity which has been providing humanitarian aid to conflict-affected Yemenis.
Dr. Fatima Akilu spoke to ICAN’s Aya Nader about how extremism affects women in her country, discussed rehabilitation and reintegration of extremists, and shared what motivates her to keep the fight for peace ignited.
From our WASL partners, the success stories of two women, one from Uganda and one from Syria, prove that with persistence and resilience, obstacles can be removed.
Can Gender explain women’s involvement in terrorism? A review of Amel Grami’s recent book, Women and Terrorism: A Gendered Study by journalist Sawssan Abou-Zahr.
Let’s celebrate the feminist men who fight for women, Rodolfo Domiguez Marquiz courageously fights Femicide with Accountability in Mexico
The Maldives Constitutional Crisis: A Power Struggle Between the Supreme Court and the Government.
What’s been going on? What can the world do?
Mossarat Qadeem and the Tolana Mothers convince a dozen women to stop stitching suicide jackets for extremist groups.
How Hamsatu Allamin Changed Boko Haram to Boko Halal