“Success at the Generation Equality Forum is when we are able to translate gender equality from a concept or policy into reality”
Mavic Cabrera Balleza. Photo: GNWP / Katrina Leclerc
Mavic Cabrera Balleza is the Founder and CEO of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). She also represents the Generation Equality Compact Forum on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA), leading actions and resources to accelerate progress on the WPS-HA agenda. Balleza prioritizes localizing national action plans on women, peace and security, and gender-sensitive humanitarian action to ensure they meet the needs of local communities and marginalized groups.
What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, peace and security, and humanitarian action?
The COVID-19 pandemic is a multiplier of conflicts and crises. It has exacerbated the root causes of conflicts and crises, including economic inequalities, food insecurity and the unavailability of basic social services such as health care and education. The pandemic has also exacerbated gender inequalities, which are one of the main drivers of conflict. Lockdowns during the pandemic have led to an unprecedented increase in the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence.
The pandemic has blocked the implementation of peace processes. Implementation plans which require the participation of government agencies and local populations and the use of financial resources have been drawn up. Funds allocated to the peacebuilding programs of many civil society organizations have been misappropriated to support emergency health and humanitarian response.
The shortage of medical facilities, vaccines and supplies amid new variants of the coronavirus shows that the pandemic will continue to impact our lives, including our peacebuilding efforts and humanitarian action.
Why is now the time to step up Women, Peace and Security Commitments?
At the start of the pandemic, women and young peacemakers were on the front lines. They were the first to visit communities affected by conflict, refugee camps and camps for internally displaced people, distributing relief materials and factual information on preventing the spread of COVID. -19. However, they remain unrecognized, underfunded and excluded from decision making. To make matters worse, they face attacks and repression from authoritarian governments and armed groups who have used the global health crisis to gain more power.
This is a critical time for the Compact to accelerate WPS-HA commitments. To do this, the Pact must call on policy makers, especially governments, to ensure the participation of local women and youth in peace negotiations and the implementation of peace agreements – and to link formal peace processes and informal. The Compact must also encourage the long-established humanitarian system to rethink humanitarian response so that crisis-affected populations do not remain voiceless as beneficiaries of relief goods and services, but are empowered to participate in decision-making.
The Compact should work with donors to review their funding policies. We must advocate and contribute to at least a fivefold increase in direct aid to local women’s and youth organizations. We must also ensure funding for national and local action plans on WPS and other relevant national mechanisms on WPS-HA.
What are the most urgent changes in WPS-HA, and why?
Local women and youth have a deep understanding of their countries’ peace and security situation, gender and power relations, and humanitarian needs, as they experience this reality every day. When local people are able to shape the implementation of the peace, security and humanitarian aid agenda, it becomes inclusive, participatory, intersectional and fosters strong ownership (of local communities).
We must empower local women and youth to design and implement humanitarian responses and commitments to women, peace and security in order to respond effectively to violent conflict, the pandemic, and the crisis. other humanitarian crises. To facilitate this, experts need to transfer their skills and knowledge and share their resources so that local people can carry out their own initiatives. As a Compact, we must honor the agency, commitment and passion of local communities and engage Member States and the donor community to provide funding to local actors in a predictable and transparent manner.
What inspired the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) to become a board member of the Compact on WPS-HA?
We are tired of increasing levels of conflict, insecurity for women and girls, and global military spending on the one hand, and endless commitments with no tangible impact on the other. It has been twenty years since the historic United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security was passed, but we have seen little progress and are suffering from political fatigue.
GNWP wants everyone – Member States, the United Nations, regional organizations, the private sector and the donor community – to recognize, value and support civil society, including through funding. We want governments to ensure our security and protection as we work together to turn the commitments of the past decades into action. This is why the Compact’s unique large composition is important; it will ensure a more inclusive and bolder, but realistic, vision of the Pact over the next five years.
What is success at Generation Equality Forum looks like you?
Success at the Generation Equality Forum is when we are able to translate gender equality from a concept or policy into reality. This will only be possible if all of us who are now active in the Forum leave our echo chambers, talk with people in the streets, in schools, in factories and offices, in grocery stores, in markets, in local communities, and explain what gender equality is about. Most of them will probably hear about gender equality for the first time, but that would be our first indicator of success. We should then follow these initial conversations with more in-depth discussions and collective and transformative actions.
For this to happen, as members of the Compact and leaders of the Coalition of Action, we must ensure that women, young women, girls and LGBTQI + people around the world – including those living in conflict and crisis – are truly included in decision-making. do on the priority issues of the Generation Equality Forum. This is the only way to ensure that the outcomes of the Forum meet their urgent priorities and needs. This is what success looks like to me.