By Grace Ndirangu and Pearl Atuhaire
The Missing Peace Young Scholars Network (MPSN) is an initiative of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Women in International Security (WIIS), the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), and the University of California, Berkley Human Rights Center. The MPSN is a platform for scholars to discuss, learn, and disseminate information from research in different parts of the world. This year’s theme was “Ten Years since the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1820: Translating Research into Policy for the Prevention of Sexual Violence.”
The workshop brought together thirteen young scholars working on research related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict and post-conflict areas. It was a timely initiative organized amidst the tenth anniversary of UNSCR 1820, and the workshop attracted experienced scholars from the field who have spent months researching the complexities of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. The Missing Peace Initiative is cognizant of the fact that innovative research often reaches beyond academe and can be a catalyst in creating transformative change at all levels of the community.
The Missing Peace Initiative Workshop focused on informing policy, which provides the platform for the desired change. Participants reflected on the effects of sexual and gender-based violence on populations, highlighted gaps in policies, and provided recommendations for policy makers.
The Missing Peace Scholars Network took a common stand, stating that all acts of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings should be eliminated. The workshop discussed how sexual and gender based-violence manifests itself in conflict and post-conflict settings. With the adoption of UNSCR 1820, sexual violence was at the center of the international discussion. Yet, sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of war by armed groups in conflict areas, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
Protection of civilian populations, prosecution of perpetrators of SGBV in conflict settings, and adoption of policies that address sexual violence in conflict settings are some of the steps that need to be taken in order to address this pandemic. While there is some research on sexual violence in conflict settings, collecting data regarding the scope and intensity of sexual violence remains a challenge. Therefore, it is crucial that the United Nations and other international actors support data collection to enable proper programming.
Some of the recommendations for policy makers include:
1) The need for proper programming for survivors of SGBV in conflict and post-conflict settings to ensure that the cycle of violence does not recur while at the same time addressing some of the consequences of SGBV, such as trauma and physical harm.
2) The creation of sustainable livelihoods for survivors through empowerment projects. In devising such programs, international actors should be cognizant of how such programs may affect the men in the community so as to ensure that no backlash occurs—backlash that could further harm the survivors.
3) Male engagement in the prevention and response to violence against women is imperative.
4) Investing in community policing, justice and judicial systems is crucial for survivors to have mechanisms and avenues to report through to seek justice for crimes perpetrated against them.
More about the authors
With eight years of experience on issues of gender, peace and security, Pearl joins the UN Women as a UNV Programme Specialist sexual and gender based violence. Prior to joining UN Women, Pearl with UN Women Uganda on a 6 months Practicum, and with one regional and national Organization on women, peace and security issues. She is a doctorate student at Durban University of Technology, South Africa where she is in her last academic year pursuing Peace and Conflict Studies. Pearl holds a Masters’ degree in International Relations and Diplomatic Studies from Makerere University, Uganda. Pearl is a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders 2016 and also a Women in International Security (WIIS) Fellow, 2017, both undertaken in the USA. She is also an alumna for the Coady International Institute, St Xavier University in Canada where she undertook a training on Women in Community Leadership in May 2017. As a researcher, Pearl has published widely on issues of gender, peace and security. Pearl believes that just like cultural practices are made norms by society, gender equality too can be made a way of life.
Grace Nyambura Ndirangu
Grace is an Economic Empowerment expert. She has been working with urban refugees from the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region in Africa who are living in Nairobi since 2010. Grace possess experience as a trainer in peacebuilding and conflict management. Grace is a graduate of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Social Sciences; Majoring in Sociology and a Minor in Political Science. She is currently finalizing on her MSc degree in Governance, Peace and Security at the African Nazarene University in Nairobi. Grace is a 2017 Next Generation Fellow at the Women in International Security (WIIS) and a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) 2016 Generation Change fellow. Grace has interests in the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and has co-authored a policy brief on sexual gender-based violence in refugee settings in Kenya and Uganda.