Gender Peace and Security Alliance

Gender, Peace and Security Alliance (GPSA) is a dialogue platform to enable women to directly connect and communicate with others in similar circumstances in conflict areas around the world; through a bank of experiences and case studies of gender inclusive peace processes in different regions.  

GPSA aims to better equip women in areas affected by conflict and/or the members of diaspora groups around the world, by bringing them together to exchange experiences, share information, transfer knowledge, receive guidance and provide systematic co-mentoring and support to each other.  This idea came as a result of many conversations which took place with women who live and suffer on the ground.  There are a number of organisations which offer ‘expert-to-grassroots’ based learnings, but ‘grassroots-to-grassroots’’ approach (also known as peer support methodology) is rare.  This methodology is what differentiates GPSA from other platforms.

The foundations of GPSA have been built by Engi’s past work of building dialogue platforms by using the peer support method (details can be found on here).  This was used in many other parts of the world such as Northern Ireland, Colombia, Cyprus and Sri Lanka with well proven success as it provides: practical information, promotes synergy and coordination in a very direct and effective way.

Conflict Analysis and Research Centre University of Kent is a funding partner of this project through their Diaspora as Peace Agents Programme.

The Pillars of GPSA?

Pillar 1 - Offering Skills and Tools

Women are by and large absent from engagement in institutional politics, due to their restricted advocacy skills, limited knowledge of political practice and shortage of funding. This is the main factor which causes the lack of their involvement in peace processes.

GPSA aims to offer skills and tools for advocacy as well as leadership to enable meaningful participation, not only by experts but also by involving peer interaction. These skills and tools will help understand ways of more effective participation in peace processes.  They will assist civil society organizations to be more collaborative, enable women’s grassroots movements and diaspora women's initiatives to be more focused. There are many trainings available worldwide (e.g. by UN Women) however there is a gap for peer to peer training which is mainly based on learning from each other’s case studies, success and/or failure stories, rather than theoretical learning approach.   GPSA aims to fill this gap by providing learnings in formal and informal settings.  

Informal setting: Learnings can be offered by informal interactions between peers with or without a facilitator.

Formal setting: Learnings can be offered in partnership with professional in the form of a more structured training.

Pillar 2 - Establishing a peer group support platform

GPSA will establishing a network-platform offering co-mentoring and support for solidarity and companionship, which will provide continuing guidance and co-mentoring to help building resilience, stay connected, become empowered and activated.  This will also help further capacity building. This can be provided economically and on a more long-term basis by using technology. By establishing a platform such as GPSA, hearing lessons and real-life stories from each other will firmly embed gender awareness in policies and projects.

Pillar 3 - Promoting a Mindset Change

Changing mindsets is a long-term goal; pragmatic approaches and systems are needed for transformation. A wider perspective that advocates the needs and rights of marginalised groups and drives towards greater awareness is needed to change the deeply ingrained male dominated approaches.

GPSA aims to produce advocacy campaigns and pass the message widely on to others by conferences, publications and meetings. The ultimate aim of GPSA is to transform both the inner as well as outer assumptions and starting points, social and institutional beliefs and policies.

Gender Sensitive Peace Process: Case Study

Engi co-founder Yeshim Harris has played a leading role in the revival of the Cyprus Peace Process and is currently providing support to initiatives that increase the role of women in the process. 

In November 2016 Yeshim co-led an international conference in Cyprus that brought together women experts in politics with a wide range of civil society organisations that embraced international, Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, Maronite, Armenian and other nationalities living in Cyprus. 
The meeting achieved the following:

1. To gain a better understanding of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. This is a landmark international legal framework that addresses not only the inordinate impact of violent conflict on women, but also the pivotal role they should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace. The group worked to understand what 1325 means, why it matters and - crucially - how it can be applied to the everyday lives of women in Cyprus. 
2. To bring together women on the island and build their solidarity across the four pillars of UNSCR 1325 to develop an integrated and inclusive dialogue on women in a post-agreement Cyprus. As a result of the conference a ‘White Book’ was produced that offers a set of good practices to promote the women, peace and security agenda as a core dimension of the larger Cyprus peacebuilding process.