New and noteworthy

Athena shares news and analysis that showcase good practice, and communicate gains for women’s rights. We are particularly keen to promote to good news, innovations and achievements in gender justice, alongside persistent concerns. We have a vibrant Facebook page which you can follow for more regular updates.

2020 developments of note so far

  • Check out Accord 29, the edited collection for Conciliation Resources, 'Pioneering peace pathways – making connections to end violent conflict' released in September 2020 with Cate Buchanan as the Specialist Editor.
  • Athena Consortium undertook research for the UK Embassy in Myanmar on gender-based violence concerns, specifically helplines and referral systems & the possibilities for the Community of Practice in Myanmar to connect practitioners working to end gender-based violence. Public versions of the report are available on request - send us an email.
  • Watch/listen to the seminar 'Looking Back, Looking Forward: The Safe Cities for Women Movement' reflecting on the impressive decades-long efforts to make cities safer and smarter for women and girls. This includes some pioneers from Latin America, India and across the world reflecting feminist safety tools such as Safetipin and the global movement to change urban security norms.
  • In 2013 the UK Government invested GBP 25 million in the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls initiative. This has generated ground-breaking evidence for effective interventions at all levels. In March 2020 the final evaluation of this initiative was released. Related to this critical reflection process are a set of evidence reports including the highly recommended report: 'A rigorous global evidence review of interventions to prevent violence against women and girls.'
  • The Transitional Justice Institute at the Ulster University is convening seminars throughout 2020 to reflect on progress, impediments and opportunities on Women, Peace and Security in the year of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform and the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325. All seminars available as podcasts.
  • We mourn the loss of Dr Catherine Hamlin at the age of 96 after a profoundly significant and self-less life. Catherine Hamlin is the personification of inspiration, determination and respect for the dignity and rights of women.For 61 years, Dr Hamlin and Dr Reg Hamlin, her late partner, pioneered holistic techniques to address the crippling effects of obstetric fistula. Over 60,000 Ethiopian girls and women have been able to access reconstructive surgery because of their efforts. For more information visit the Catherine Hamlin Foundation.

Some highlights from 2019

News that caught our attention and inspired us in 2018

  • In mid-December, the UN mediated a ceasefire between Yemeni warring parties. At the negotiation table there was only one woman, Rana Ghanem who reflected that the burden of representing women’s issues fell squarely on her: “If there were more women in the delegation this would have alleviated pressures (on me)”. The women’s Technical Advisory Group and the Yemeni Women’s Pact are two existing mechanisms enabling indirect participation in the process. There is increasing concern about the efficacy of such initiatives.
  • For accessible resources on understanding and implementing feminist approaches to ending men’s violence to women, check out the work of COFEM and their Feminist Pocketbook– a series of short, easily digestible tip sheets on transformative approaches to ending gender-based violence.
  • October is always a big month with the UNSG's annual report on UNSCR1325 and accompanying Open Debate, with a strong emphasis this year on access to resources and stronger civil society inclusion; but that's not all that went on in WPS-world:
  • The inspiring Elisabeth Slåttum writes about the impact and necessity of more women in mediation reminding us "It’s not only about introducing more women. It is also about looking at how mediation is being carried out. Mediation traditionally depends heavily on high level personalities, mostly male, who carry a great responsibility on their shoulders. In this day and age, it is time to look at more innovative and modern working methods. Using stronger mediation teams, co-mediation, deputy Special Envoys are ways of adapting mediation work, to make it less dependent on one person, and spread the responsibility. I believe that this would also favor a more gender-balanced approach."
  • Ever busy, the Georgetown Institute on WPS's Dr. Anjali Dayal also produced a policy brief with concrete recommendations on connecting formal and informal peace process for better inclusivity and results.
  • Are you wondering why women remain so fundamentally excluded from peace processes? Then read this report from the 2018 Experts Group Meeting on women’s meaningful participation. In short: there is no one thing that guarantees women’s meaningful participation. Instead there are many elements that are best associated with enabling measures and require vigilance to seize and create opportunities for women to exert transformative influence and agency.
  • CMI and SIPRI are debunking persistent myths on gender in mediation in their recent article.
  • No more frustrated websurfing in search of best, latest evidence, cases and infographics to use in your advocacy on inclusion: UN Women has created a state of the art editorial package.
  • Poignant and vital article from Amani Haydar, artist, lawyer, feminist advocate reflecting on the impact of the murder of her mother by her father."Children without parents, parents without children. Who else is here because of male violence? Why don't we talk more openly about the effects of male violence on our families? For Muslim women in particular, the answers are complex."
  • Brilliant example of 'sisters doin' it for themselves': Dr Jessica Wade, a British physicist who writes 270 Wikipedia pages a year to raise the profile of female scientists, was so inspired on reading Angela Saini's book, "Inferior: The True Power of Women and the Science that Shows It" that she started a campaign to send a copy to every mixed secondary school in England with more than 1,000 pupils. The funding target was reached within two days and has now been further surpassed.
  • Excited to see this global peace polling from International Alert and Co. This is one dynamic way to bring the opinions of people living in areas with armed violence and conflict areas into decisions and planning.
  • Brigadier General Zakia Hussein Ahmed has become the highest ranking female in the Somali Police Force after recent promotion from her previous rank as Colonel. She is the first woman in the country's police history to attain the rank.
  • Interested in gender-sensitive peace agreements? Check out the work of Katrina Lee-Koo & Jaqui True, "Toward Inclusive Peace: mapping gender-sensitive peace agreements 2000-2016" and the work of the Monash University Gender, Peace and Security Centre.
  • Solomé Lemma, Deputy Director of Thousand Currents and co-founder of Africans in the Diaspora, blasts out 25 crisp ideas for how donors can support social movements. Study after study demonstrates the international community needs to significantly improve its approach to funding women's organisations especially as these organisations are increasingly regarded as the panacea for countering terrorism and extremism and are frequently called upon to give information that informs the programming of international organisations.
  • Steve Biddulph, psychologist and advocate for men being engaged fathers reflects on where responsibility lies: "...if boys wanted to learn about "healthy manhood" they needed to see male role models show a wide range of emotions and be willing to talk through issues."
  • Ndubuisi Christian Ani from the Institute for Security Studies reflects on pitfalls FemWise-Africa should avoid: "...the effectiveness of using mainly former heads of state as mediators should be examined. Does it signal a bias in favour of sitting leaders, to the disadvantage of the opposition? Are there more bureaucratic constraints on the mission? Are they effective? Can other dignitaries deliver better?"
  • The Institute for Inclusive Security has produced a detailed and accessible study (a feat in and of itself!) on women's influence and roles in constitution-making. It reveals that only 1 in 5 constitution drafters in conflict settings is a woman. "This is partly because the rules for electing or appointing a constitution-making body are typically established in the peace process — an even more male-dominated affair."
  • Tamasin Ford considers the legacy of Africa's first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
  • "There’s only three things you can be certain of in life: taxes, death and some randomer yelling ‘what about men?’ every time you talk about women’s issues." Jessica Eaton reflects on the tedium of the 'what about men?' line of argument.
  • Ana Villellas and the team at the School for a Culture of Peace, Autonomous University of Barcelona, released The Role of the EU and Other Third Parties in Promoting Gender, Peace and Security Agenda in Mediation and Dialogue Processes - part of a wider effort to strengthen the EU’s peace support capabilities.

News that caught our attention and/or inspired us in 2017

News that caught our attention and/or inspired us in 2016

News that caught our attention and/or inspired us in 2015

  • The brilliant women at the Women Peacemakers Program released a great series of articles during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, from its publication ‘Women, Peace & Security: Business as Usual?’: A critical exploration of the relationship between the private sector and the implementation of the Women, Peace & Security agenda and the connections between militarism, power and patriarchy.  
  • October welcomed the newest member of the WPS Agenda, UN Security Council Resolution 2422. A snapshot of UNSCR2422 highlights here from WILPF and a great little infographic. What is new?
  • Athena was in New York for the Open Debate and High Level Review and release of the Global Study on Women, Peace and Security: Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace.
  • Athena speaking for Crisis Management Initiative highlighted the need to step it up on women's participation
  • Early in 2015, Athena supported coordination efforts for civil society: over 47 civil society organizations, academics and research institutes submitted resources and policy briefs providing key implementation gaps, good practices and recommendations for the Global Study (you can read those recommendations here and the 9 strategic recommendations from civil society here.
  • Athena’s Cate Buchanan and International Alert’s Henri Myrrttnen discuss ‘Men and Gender in the Peace Process: Worlds Apart?’. 'Men are on the front lines of war. They are fighters, negotiators and peacebuilders. They are victims and survivors of violence and intimidation, aid givers, media and by-standers. Yet in spite of their ubiquity, their own gendered identity as men – and how this affects conflict and peace – is seldom discussed in peace talks, policymaking and research.’ A fantastic contribution to this growing field of analysis and policy.
  • In her excellent piece, ‘The Lost Agenda: Gender Parity in Senior UN Appointments’ on the Global Peace Operations Review blog, Karin Landgren shines a light on a seemingly unnoticed statistic in 2015: selections for the seniormost level of UN staff were skewed nearly 92 per cent male.
  • Thanks Louise Olsson and Open Democracy for this good piece on the pitfalls of vague language and 'good intentions only' gender mainstreaming approaches; in this case in EU Common Security and Defence Policy missions.
  • Athena was part of the review team for the Interim Review of the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2012-2018). The Interim Review will be released in early 2015 and will provide recommendations to the Australian government on strengthening implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and ways to enhance civil society collaboration.
  • Athena was proud to be part of the extensive consultations for the newly launched Better Peace Tool. The Better Peace Tool was conceived by the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) in 2014, to develop practical guidance on the inclusion of women peacebuilders in peacemaking and mediation processes. Through research, convening, and diverse consultations, the project aimed to move beyond the question of why inclusivity matters, to ask how it is being practiced – identifying ongoing barriers and effective strategies to overcome them.
  • 100 years after over 1000 women gathered in the Hague to bring an end to World War I, Athena was honoured to join Nobel laureates and women’s rights activists from around the globe at the WILPF Centenary Women’s Power to Stop War Conference. You can listen and watch all 42 sessions from the Conference here.
  • Great week for Athena when 2/3 of us were honoured to be a part of WILPF's 100th year reflections in Canberra. An inspiring event captured with vibrance on storify.
  • Brilliant new resource from the powerhouse team at the International Peace Institute, “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes” which brings together new quantitative and qualitative evidence on the impact of this participation and explores models and strategies for strengthening women’s influence in peace processes.
  • Q&A with Rina Amiri, senior research associate, Princeton University and a former member of UN Mediation Standby Team on the ‘value added’ of inclusion: “women and civil society actors are actually very strategic assets and they can be partners in helping the UN get better access and go to places it cannot because of security and mobility constraints."
  • Essential listening/reading: an interview with the brilliant Anne Marie Goetz, New York University, former Head of Peace and Security at UN Women. “Women’s Rights Find Success and Pushback”
  • Nifty blog Two Views Beyond the Hill to follow from two awesome women in Washington DC with all kinds of fresh views and insights. Thumbs up from Athena.
  • Policy Brief from the Women Peacemakers Program, “Counterterrorism Measures and Their Effects on the Implementation of the Women, Peace & Security Agenda,” refers to the: "...worrying emerging trend affecting women’s organizations worldwide - which has the potential to become a serious disabler to women’s human rights and peace activism and hence UNSCR 1325 implementation in upcoming years - the impact of #‎counterterrorism measures."
  • The Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström, decision not to sell arms to Saudi Arabia powerfully demonstrated what #‎feminist foreign policy looks like in action.
  • Athena always appreciates the insights of Saferworld's Hannah Wright this time on what it means to bring the men and masculinities agenda into the 1325 one: "Rather than seeing gender as a de-politicised, technical exercise that just adds men and boys to the women, peace and security agenda, we need to repoliticise an agenda that all too often focuses on adding women into existing peace and security processes without really challenging the gendered nature of those processes."
  • Athena managed a short-term list-serv to provide information about the 1325 High Level Review ‪#‎HLR1325‬ as well as the Peace Support Operations review (PSO). The HLR was a golden policymaking moment for intensifying efforts to secure #womensrights and #genderjustice in ‪#‎peacetalks‬, ‪#‎securitysectorreform‬,‪#‎violencereduction‬ and much more. UN Women have indicated that HLR submissions are best received by the end of March to be fully considered in the process that is being led by Radhika Coomaraswamy. The list-serv aims to provide info about who is writing on what themes etc. The first edition of the document (Feb 20, 2015) is available here. If you would like to join the list-serv please be in touch
  • Athena welcomes a strong policy brief, as always, from the NGO Working Group on Women Peace & Security to focus our minds and those in particular of the UN Security Council on priorities in the agenda for 2015; Athena notes in particular the practical recommendations on gender expertise in political and peacekeeping missions.
  • If 2014 was such a banner year for feminism and gender equality, according to the media, should we be satisfied to see only 17% of Davos participants in January 2015 were women?. No time to relax our efforts, thinks Athena
  • Thoughtful piece by Jayne Huckerby on women jihadis reminding us that we need to understand the world in complex not simplistic ways: and this includes the role women play in terror.
  • Delighted to see the EU appoint its first female head of a Common Security and Defence Policy Mission, EUPOL Afghanistan, Pia Stjernvall.
  • Athena welcomes the opening of a new academic centre at LSE to combat warzone violence against women, and in particular the choice of director, Professor Christine Chinkin.
  • Thanks to Laura Mcleod for her new study Gender and Peace Settlements from a Quantitative Perspective: A global surveywhich reveals that there is very little quantitative information collected about the process of reaching an agreement e.g. who participates, where the agreement is made or how civil society is involved; her analysis also reveals that these datasets code gender in different ways, and these labels cannot be taken at face value. Such representations could reproduce essentialist images about women and obscure the power relations that shape the kind of data that is included and what is considered to “count”.

News that caught our attention and/or inspired us in 2014

The 15 #UN Security Council ambassadors for 2014. Five female ambassadors on council for first time ever.
The 15 #UN Security Council ambassadors for 2014. Five female ambassadors on council for first time ever.