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
Marie-Joëlle Zahar is Pushing the Boundaries for Women in Security & Peacebuilding
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.
Boko Haram and Banditry: Northeast Nigeria’s Deteriorating Security Situation
“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.”
“Let us go where the guns are loud”: How Esther Omam Builds Peace in Cameroon
“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.
Abductees’ Mothers Association: On the Front Lines of Yemen’s Prisoner Swap
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.
Despite Tragedy, Peacebuilder Khedija Arfaoui Remains Resilient
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.
Peace Heroes: Najlaa El Sheikh Helps Syrian Women Refugees Become Business Owners
“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.
Freeing the Kidnapped in Yemen’s War
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.
Libyan Women at the Frontline of War, but with No Seat at the Peacetable
“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.
Peace Heroes: Muna Luqman and the Role of Women in War-Stricken Yemen
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.
Peace Heroes: Indonesia’s Mira Kusumarini Shows How Reintegrating Ex-extremists is Done
Mira Kusumarini talks to ICAN about C-SAVE’s efforts to alter the lives of returnees and prepare their communities to accept them.
Peace Heroes: Why Nancy Yammout Met with Extremists in Lebanese Prisons
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.
Peace Heroes: Deeyah Khan is Deconstructing Extremism with Documentary Film
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.
ICAN’s Pilot Seminar on Gendered Mediation Got off to a Flying Start
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.
Tunisian activist & WASL partner Ahlem Nasraoui named ‘One Young World Peace Ambassador’
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.
In Hodeidah, Yemeni Women Saving Lives at the Frontlines of a Devastating War
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.
Peace Heroes: How Nigerian Psychologist Fatima Akilu Rehabilitates Extremist Societies
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.
Women Peace Activists Offering Governments a Helping Hand
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.