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Breaking Barriers to Peacebuilding for Women and Youth in Yemen

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ENABLING YEMENI WOMEN AND YOUTH PEACEBUILDERS TO ACT SUPPORTS LIFE-SAVING AID DELIVERY

2021 begins the third decade of implementation for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Last year’s 20th anniversary of Women, Peace and Security celebrated the progress that has been made and recognised the work that is left to do. Our research at SDDirect, with women and youth peacebuilders across Yemen, highlights that nowhere is this work more needed than Yemen. The peacebuilders we spoke to were clear that peacebuilding and humanitarian activities are inextricably linked. The security of livelihoods - both immediate and longer term - is critical for stability, while the protection of beneficiaries is key to ensuring humanitarian distribution remains possible. With the UN Secretary General now warning that Yemen is in “imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades”, the importance of peacebuilding for facilitating the humanitarian response is clear.

THE BARRIERS FACING YEMENI WOMEN AND YOUTH PEACEBUILDERS ARE MULTIPLE BUT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE

The peacebuilders we spoke to identified multiple barriers to engaging in peacebuilding. These include:

  • Security risks to themselves and their families from security actors and members of their communities that disapprove of their work.
  • Exclusion of youth from donor-funded peacebuilding efforts and the lack of recognition of youth-led peacebuilding efforts.
  • Lack of funding combined with pressing humanitarian need, limits the extent to which women and youth can participate in peacebuilding activities.
  • Social norms that consider peace a form of surrender, and that consider women’s engagement inappropriate, increase the risk of women and youth facing resistance from their families and communities.

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS A KEY ROLE TO PLAY

Together with CARE International, we have produced a learning brief that explores the key steps international donors and INGOs can take to support women and youth peacebuilders to continue their much needed work. For example, donors and INGOs should be sensitive to norms around gender and age during the design of future peacebuilding programmes in Yemen, to prevent their exclusion and increase support for inclusion of both women and youth. Further, donors should use opportunities in national and international fora, such as discussions with the Office of the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY), to highlight the importance of treating both male and female youth as primary targets for peacebuilding work. This is especially key as it can be a catalyst for preventing their recruitment into armed groups.  Equally, donors, with their INGO partners, should provide flexible funding to local level peacebuilding organisations that are run by women and youth in Yemen to ensure they are able to continue to serve their communities effectively. Full findings and further recommendations can be found in our learning brief, which makes recommendations to international donors and INGOs as they seek to support communities in Yemen with humanitarian assistance and through peacebuilding efforts.

Links to our learning briefs: