Women’s Peacebuilding Strategies Amidst Conflict: Lessons from Myanmar and Ukraine
In both Myanmar and Ukraine, broad-based and inclusive peace is still a work in progress. Amidst these challenges, women are developing effective strategies to participate in peace and security mechanisms and to advance women’s rights.
Based on field interviews with civil society leaders and government officials in Myanmar and Ukraine and a review of the literature, this study examines how women are building peace amidst ongoing conflicts. The study finds that, in both countries, women use a variety of strategies to advance peace and security. While national plans and formal peace processes have had mixed results for women, alternative steps – notably including informal relationships and utilizing other international frameworks and norms – can be highly effective for advancing women’s interests.
Several findings emerge that have broader relevance for policymakers and practitioners seeking to advance women’s rights amidst ongoing conflict:
1 . Women can leverage regional and international standards and norms to advocate for women’s rights and peace. This is evident in Myanmar, where women promote frameworks such as CEDAW, UNSCR 1325, and the Beijing Platform for Action. In Ukraine, women additionally promote standards in line with EU gender equality policies as a way for peace process stakeholders to improve their international reputation.
2. Women’s formal inclusion in peace and political processes can create broader opportunities for women’s civil society organizations to amplify their voices in the midst of conflict. In both Myanmar and Ukraine, women insiders – those involved in official government roles or formal peace processes – provide an agenda for women’s civil society organizations.
3. National plans to advance gender equality need to be better grounded in the decentralized nature of governance, including the delegation of responsibilities, resourcing, and accountability arrangements. Decentralization can be a way to more effectively manage tensions and advance peace while creating opportunities for women at the grassroots level.
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