Another mainstay of COPA capacity building work is the constituent-specific programs. These programs focused on COPA target groups and include objectives and activities fitting their particular needs.
It is the fundamental right of every woman to live a life free from discrimination and violence, and that gender equality is essential to achieving development and to building just societies. (UNIFEM)
Women in Africa represent the most deprived slice of the population in spite of the important social and economic role they play in the community and in the family. In most areas where violent conflicts are reported within the African continent and beyond, women have been victims of a range of atrocities such as: sexual abuse, physical injuries, loss of homes, enslavement into armed groups, mutilations and loss of livelihoods. In many cases this has resulted in psychological trauma and crippling poverty. Victims of this violence then face social rejection and stigmatization. Despite all these forms of discrimination, society still holds women accountable for the welfare of their families.
Women’s participation in conflict transformation has often been hampered by the lack of basic skills in peacebuilding that would improve their effectiveness in such initiatives. The COPA Women in Peace Leadership program gives women in conflict zones a voice by reaching out to those who live and work in such areas, and also to those who are affected by the conflicts.
This program seeks to synergize activities in the areas of advocacy, capacity building and documentation of best practices, which will ultimately make women better equipped to raise their voice in conflict situations and contribute effectively to the resolution of violent conflicts and building of sustainable peace. Though many of the target women and their organizations achieved some success, they often lack skills to move their interventions to a more effective and sustainable level. This extensive training program will help them to further professionalize their efforts. The trainings will cover the following thematic areas: conflict early warning, conflict analysis, mediation, negotiation, advocacy, women’s rights, international law and instruments, leadership skills, communication skills, facilitation, trauma healing, networking and mentoring. Additionally, the program will be an opportunity to raise awareness on resolutions from international bodies championing women’s rights in conflict situations, such as UNSCR 1325 and 1820. For more information contact us.
History of the programme
The WPL pioneer programme funded by Pact Inc through there PEACE II programme began in May 2009 for a period of 15months. The beneficiaries of this programme were 25 women from
The programme had two main goals:
1. To prepare a critical mass of women who are capable of contributing strategically to peace initiatives in East Africa and the Horn region to take up peace leadership.
2. To develop a peace women’s network in East Africa and the Horn region.
Activities within the programme included three 5 day trainings held in Kampala in Aug 2009 and in Nairobi in Dec 2009 and March 2010. During the training, the participants learnt about the importance of understanding themselves and others and gained peace and leadership skills essential for their development as leaders. The experience was further augmented by visits to organizations where other women were managing or leading programmes. This enabled the participants to recognize the achievements as well as the challenges faced and ways to overcome them..
The neglect of our youths over the years has yielded negative results which we as a nation are now forced to reckon with. Nigerian Elected Official.
On 18 December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 until 11 August 2011 as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. This action was in recognizing the many challenges faced by youth all over the world.
In Africa young people particularly in conflict and post conflict countries, face seemingly insurmountable problems with dire consequences. Poverty, lack of education and unemployment render the youths vulnerable and they become easy preys to political manipulation. They are also easily mobilized by militia groups through the slightest provocation or incentive leading to increased insecurity, banditry, gross human rights violations and heightened humanitarian crisis.
Still, the young people of today are, on average, better connected to the rest of the world than any of the earlier generations of youth in the region, and they are, as a result, more determined to find options to close the gap between their limited opportunities in what they perceive to be possible in the global economy (UN 2007 Youth Report). Failure to provide opportunities for African youth to build their capacity to participate in peace building and development would be a missed opportunity
With its specialized program, COPA intends to reach out to youth leaders and peace builders in selected countries in Africa to increase their numbers, to give them skills to improve their capacity for peace work, to expose them to other youth of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and to better their livelihoods. The Coalition will work with selected youth CSOs whose membership includes unemployed youth (boys and girls), ex-combatants and youth with leadership skills. COPA will develop a devoted group of youth willing and able to be active in the struggle for a culture of peace, strengthening their capacities and practical skills to act as ‘mediators’, ‘educators’ and ‘multipliers’ among their peers.
“Much of the violence that plagues humanity is a direct or indirect result of unresolved trauma that is acted out in repeated unsuccessful attempts to reestablish a sense of empowerment” James Gilligan, Violence: our deadly epidemic and its causes: Preventing violence
One of the major impacts of violence is the psychological trauma experienced by the communities of victims and perpetrators. History shows that when communities experience trauma and do not get justice, they internalize it waiting for an opportunity to revenge. This unresolved anguish can pass on from generations to generations and become the seed of new violence decades after the initial trauma.
This experience of trauma is felt both at the individual level and at that of the community. The inability of an individual or a community to overcome the experiences of trauma makes long term community reconciliation and development nearly impossible. In Africa, examples abound of unresolved trauma leading up to new crisis such as in Rwanda and Sudan. Many become trapped in the cycles of violence and cannot pick up the pieces of their lives and begin to live freely again.
Individuals and communities must have the opportunity of overcoming their grief and loss to ensure that they can move on to be positively productive in society. This is especially important in cases where refugees and internally displaced person reunite with their communities.
The trauma healing program aims to focus on the emotional and relational needs of those affected to restore a sense of community and harmony. This focus is vital for the restoration of long term peace and appeases communities who fear a repeat of violence.
COPA along with other peace organizations launched training of community leaders in trauma awareness to serve those who are in camps and perpetrator communities in Kenya after the elections violence of 2008. The effort aims to provide support in the area of trauma awareness and recovery to facilitate healing and restoration of broken communities.
The Coalition anticipates that this program will bring a better focus and a longer term engagement in the work of reconciliation in Africa through the focus on trauma. It will also provide valuable learning to be shared among peace practitioners. For more information contact us.
4. Women Participation in Political Processes
Since time immemorial, the participation of women in both peacebuilding and political processes has always been on the lower side particularly in patriarchal societies where substantive roles requiring the articulation of issues and shaping the future direction of the people are viewed as men's responsibilities. In many societies roles that are viewed as of no subsequence are left out for the women. In Kenya, this has been true and women despite their numerical strength remain under represented in the two processes.
In October 2010, the government of Kenya promulgated a new constitution in which numerous gender gains were stipulated particularly in areas of leadership representation and property ownership. However, if deliberate measures are not put in place to ensure that women at all levels are aware of the particular gains and how they can make effective contribution, these could remain just on paper.
It is in line with this that in 2011, COPA through the financial support of Zivik/ifa programme initiated a project on 'Enhancing effective participation of women in Kenya's general elections'; a project that aims at raising levels of awareness on the constitutional gender gains for women, train women on leadership skills, raise levels of awareness on the UNSCR and how it relates to the women's work and also build their knowledge and skills in peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
An important element of this project has been the documentation of work experiences of 25 rural women from Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Mt Elgon and how their work has been impacted on by the New Constitution and the UNSCR 1325. This publication is available on the website for downloading.