Women's Rights and Gender Justice

Despite an impressive set of international laws and standards (in particular relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions), women and girls remain disproportionately affected by armed violence and conflict and excluded from processes of resolution and justice-seeking for war crimes. ‘Including gender perspectives’ is a phrase often used without substance. At Athena we build an understanding of the different experiences and views of women, men, boys and girls into everything we do.

Athena expertise in this area aims to:
• Increase women’s participation in peace processes including a substantive focus on women’s rights and gender in outcomes (e.g. ceasefires, agreements, and implementation strategies).
• Enhance women’s involvement in conflict prevention and resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding as experts, advisers, negotiators and mediators.
• Facilitate women directly affected by violence and war to speak for themselves, engage in processes relevant to them, and become part of the global policy discourse.
• Advise and work with national counterparts on drafting National Action Plans related to the seven "women peace and security" UN Security Council resolutions.
• Advise donors, international organisations, NGOs and corporations on ways to include gender perspectives in conflict resolution and peacebuilding policymaking and operations.
• Capture and disseminate the experiences of peace process actors and women in how they have included women and gender perspectives.

Type of work we do:
• Policy advice and briefings.
• Strategy, programme and project design and management.
• Monitoring and evaluation.
• Conference, meeting and seminar design and delivery.
• Tailor-made advice, training and other forms of coaching, mentoring and support.
• Research, analysis, publications.
• Developing communications products.
• Networking, advocacy and lobbying.

Examples of current and past work include:
• Providing strategic advice, contributing to international policy and hands-on support to mediation and dialogue work as Senior Advisor for Mediation Support, Gender and Inclusion to the Crisis Management Initiative (September 2013 to date) e.g. on projects in Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, South Caucasus, South Sudan and Yemen.

• Designing and delivering training (November 2013) to women from Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of a UN Women and Institute for War and Peace Reporting project to facilitate women’s participation in peacebuilding.

• Initiating and managing the Women at the Peace Table, Asia Pacific project for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), its flagship gender and mediation programme (2009-2013).

• Providing direct inputs to women and principal actors engaged or seeking to be engaged in peace processes in Libya, the Philippines, Myanmar, Nepal, and Southern Thailand, through trainings, seminars and networking meetings.

• Leading a team, for the HD Centre, to develop a ground-breaking study on how to include gender in peace agreements: titled From clause to effect: Including women’s rights and gender in peace agreements (2012), it examines six peace agreements from Asia and the Pacific, identifying how references to women’s rights and gender perspectives could have been better included. It is used as reference material in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs High-Level Seminar in Gender and Mediation.

• Designing, writing, editing and compiling for the HD Centre, Peacemaking in Asia Pacific: Women’s participation, perspectives, and priorities (2011), which includes an annex entitled "Practical pointers for mediators" on how to incorporate gender into their work.

• Designing and implementing two iterations of a regional round table in Nepal for senior women including mediators, advisers to peace processes, members of negotiating teams and government representatives from across Asia and the Pacific. The roundtables provided an opportunity for networking and exchange on substantive peace process topics to enhance women’s representation and participation in peace processes in their countries.

• Designing and implementing a gender mentoring process for the HD Asia Office: external women’s rights specialists were teamed up with staff to provide tailored advice and ideas for including gender in their work. This proved to be a low-cost way to offer targeted training and support.

• Developing a custom-designed gender audit for the HD Asia programme to assess strengths and weaknesses in understanding and implementing gendered approaches in operational and policy work.

• Contributing a chapter to the African Union Handbook (2013) on mediation on women, gender and peacemaking with examples of challenges and options to confront them for mediators and their teams working on the women, peace and security agenda.

Other examples of work in the area of gender inclusion work include:
• Providing expert advice, contributing to policy and shaping advocacy to the EU on gender, peace and security to the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (September 2011-September 2013)

• Increasing a focus on gender perspectives by creating specific networks such as the IANSA Women’s Network. Cate Buchanan led the development of this in 2001, focusing on women’s unique victimisation from gun violence, as well as their role as agents in advocating for gun control.

• Leading strategic planning processes which prioritized gender inclusivity (Concern Worldwide, Oxfam GB).

Athena's Managing Partners have published widely in this area: please see our Publications.

Women at the Heal Africa Transit Center for survivors of sexual violence  © Aubrey Graham/Courtesy of IRIN www.irinnews.org
Women at the Heal Africa Transit Center for survivors of sexual violence © Aubrey Graham/Courtesy of IRIN www.irinnews.org