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 advocate in processes relevant to them, and be involved in global policy-making and shaping;
• Advise and work with national counterparts on drafting National Action Plans related to the eight 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 themselves, on effective inclusion strategies and gender-inclusive outcomes.

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:
• Cate Buchanan is currently one of nine Senior Mediation Advisers in the Standby Team of Experts of the UN Mediation Support Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (Process Design; Gender & Inclusion). This includes a mix of operational processes and training & policy work including facilitator and lead resource person for the 2018 Experts Group process on women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and gender-inclusive peace agreements; resource person for annual events such as the UN Ceasefire Course and the UN High Level Seminar on Gender and Mediation for peace envoys in cooperation with PRIO, Crisis Management Initiative (2013-2016 )and UN Department for Political Affairs.
Athena seconds staff to peace support initiatives such as Cate Buchanan (2015-2017) to the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation in the role of Senior Peacebuilding Adviser deployed via DAI with USAID Office of Transition Initiatives support to provide strategic advice on programme development and to support their work with the armed groups including providing technical (e.g. negotiation preparedness, inclusion, funding modalities) and process design advice (e.g. lead adviser on the first and second rounds of ethnic national dialogues in 2016 and 2017).
• Technical and process design advice to the Myanmar Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process to establish itself and develop policy analysis (2014-2015).
• Analyst and Chief Editor role to undertake a major technical revision to enable publication of The Women are Ready: An Opportunity to Transform Peace in Myanmar (2015).
• Retainer consultancy to provide on-demand gender inclusion advice and structured learning for Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue staff in Myanmar including coaching, project and activity design to boost gender inclusion and perspectives in their work (2016-2017).

• Providing strategic advice, contributing to international policy and hands-on support to mediation and dialogue work as Senior Manager for Mediation Support, Gender and Inclusion to the Crisis Management Initiative (2013-2016) e.g. on projects in Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, South Caucasus, South Sudan, and Yemen and the UN High Level Seminar on Gender and Mediation for peace envoys in cooperation with PRIO and UN Department for Political Affairs.
• Developing and designing Myanmar-specific training on gender and inclusion in ceasefires (2014).
• Member of the Expert Advisory Board for the project Broadening Participation in Track One Negotiations run by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at the Geneva Institute for International Development Studies, and the University of Bilkent (2013-2014).
• Facilitator of the ‘Better Peace’, Women and Civil Society at the Peace Table conference which resulted in the Better Peace toolkit, available in multiple languages. Initiative with ICAN, UN Women, Conflict Management Initiative, Cordaid, Conciliation Resources, Swisspeace (2014).
• Providing expert commentary on and collaborating in the launch of OSCE guidance on gender and mediation (2013).
• Providing expert input on women and peace building to cross Whitehall Women Peace and Security Training (UK Department of Defence, Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (November 2013).
• Designing and delivering training 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.
• Devising a mentoring scheme for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Asia office that was low-cost, bespoke and provided ongoing support to staff to develop their skills and confidence on how to include gender in their work (2011-2012).
• Developing a custom-designed gender audit for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Asia programme to assess strengths and weaknesses in understanding and implementing gender-inclusive approaches in operational and policy work.
• Providing technical support to the EU, UN Women, and the Office of the UN Special Representative on the Sahel through Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue for the May 2013 High Level Conference on Women’s Leadership in the Sahel.
• 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).
• 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.
• Developing 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.

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