It is crucial that women’s voices are heard and their work on the ground is recognised, valued and supported. Decisions should be made with them, not for them.
Elisabeth Rehn (Finish Politician and former UN Under-Secretary-General) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Former President of Liberia and first elected female head of state in Africa). Quote taken from Women, War, Peace: The Independent Experts’ Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-Building (2002: p9).
What is peace without equal rights and opportunities for everyone? What is peace if peace processes themselves further endanger the lives of those at the margins? What is peace without a global community that cooperates to achieve a greater goal?
Peace is truly peace when the most vulnerable groups are protected when marginalised communities have greater representation and participation, and when economic and social development are sustained locally. Through capacity-building and learning, we can achieve sustainable peace together by empowering women and girls to realise the change they want to see.
Women’s empowerment is a cross-cutting priority at UNITAR, as we recognise the synergies between three of the SDGs: 5 (Gender equality), 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions), and 17 (Partnerships for the goals). The Division for Peace within UNITAR has developed different programmes and initiatives aimed at empowering women around the world to meaningfully take part in peace processes, at all levels and in all capacities. When gaps in capacity, knowledge, or skills that affect women's empowerment are identified, UNITAR provides tailored and customised capacity-building and development packages to address the specific needs of stakeholders and foster a broader societal change. Over the years, UNITAR has gained great expertise in supporting governments and civil society organisations in their work for women and girls’ empowerment – making it uniquely positioned to build and develop related capacities and capabilities at the individual, collective, and institutional levels.
Achieving women’s empowerment through capacity-building
Since the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979, women’s empowerment has been a top priority at the global level. As stated in the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) – as well as in the subsequent resolutions constituting the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda – positive peace cannot be achieved without the substantial and meaningful involvement and participation of all members of society, including its most vulnerable members and those most affected by the consequences of armed conflict. UNSCR 1325 recognises the important role that women play in building and sustaining peace globally and highlights the need for women and girls to be equal partners in all aspects and at all levels of peace processes. To advance the successful implementation of the WPS Agenda, 84 UN Member States have adopted National Action Plans (NAPs).
Through the trainings that UNITAR offers, it is a key actor for the implementation of the WPS agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNITAR believes that empowering women and girls in all sectors and areas of society is key to their meaningful participation in peace processes. Consequently, UNITAR is developing different programmes and initiatives that strive to reach and empower women, who work towards building peace from the grassroots to the national, regional, and continental levels, with a particular focus on building the capacity and confidence of the most marginalised women, such as young women and girls in conflict-affected areas. This is achieved through the provision of tailored and customised capacity-building and capacity development packages that not only provide partners and stakeholders with the specialised knowledge and skills needed to develop and carry out peace-related initiatives, but also further ‘agency-based empowerment’ – enhancing their agency and confidence in their ability to become actors of peace and drivers of positive change. By building capacities at various levels, UNITAR ensures that individuals alone do not shoulder the whole responsibility for change. Instead, the focus is placed on providing enabling structures, supportive institutions, and conducive environments so that women's empowerment goes hand in hand with increasingly inclusive societal norms.
How do we do it?
UNITAR has extensive experience in developing and supporting capacity-building packages to promote women’s empowerment across all regions. Dynamic learning processes allow participants to not only acquire skills but also contribute to the construction of knowledge in a meaningful and applicable manner. UNITAR’s work in women’s empowerment integrates a variety of human-centred and interactive methodological approaches, that address the knowledge and capacity gaps of stakeholders while also creating an enabling environment for the equal representation and participation of women and girls in peace processes at all levels and in all capacities.
In response to specific capacity-building demands on women’s empowerment in fragile contexts, UNITAR has previously developed customised programming on:
- Mediation and conflict prevention
- Leadership for peace
- Intergenerational dialogues
- Vocational and skills training
- Gender mainstreaming in development, peace and security projects
- Prevention and response to sexual violence
- Increased participation in peace processes and politics
- Promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in organisational settings
As of today, UNITAR’s partners include international bodies, regional organisations, individual states, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), training institutions, research centres, women’s networks, grassroots organisations, and local groups. UNITAR has supported these partners with projects on women’s empowerment in various ways, including: Face to Face Trainings, E-Learning & Online Facilitation, Training-of-Trainers Courses, Digital Solutions, and Advocacy.
In this thematic area
- Trailblazer – a podcast series dedicated to elevating the voices of women peacebuilders
- Promoting Stabilisation of the Great Lakes Region: Support to the Regional Training Facility (RTF) on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
- Towards a peaceful transition in Mali: Elevating Women and Youth-led action for sustaining peace
For more information related to our activities in the area of women’s empowerment, please contact the Youth and Women’s Empowerment team at firstname.lastname@example.org.