Raising Voices – Women’s History Month

During March, we celebrated the powerful and resilient women who have strived to make changes for the sake of making an equal and fulfilling space for all of us. Women have been the backbone of many political, economic, and social movements. They have been the faces and voices that have made us look inward and ask ourselves, “Are we the best of who we can be?” As we leave March 2022 behind us please take a moment to reflect on this question. And check out all of the ways we celebrate women in peacebuilding and civil society resiliency spaces.

Resilient Conversations

Resilient Conversations is a forthcoming podcast organized and hosted by PartnersGlobal that explores different facets of individual, organizational, sectoral, and systemic resiliency. The short video series above includes clips from different episodes. Featured guests on the podcast will include our own staff like Co-Executive Directors Roselie Vasquez Yetter and Kyra Buchko; ResiliencyPlus colleagues and coaches Alexa Brand, Olivia Baciu, and Susan Njambi Odongo; and civil society colleagues such as Zuza Fialova of Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia and Carole Frampton de Tscharner and Heloise Heyer of Peace Nexus Foundation.

MENA Women’s Roundtable

Recently, MENA and Civil Society Strengthening Director Rasha Abdel Latif of PartnersGlobal sat down (virtually) with women peacebuilders and Partners Network colleagues from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the US to talk about women’s role as leaders and peacebuilders in the MENA region. Enjoy this 20 minute conversation between these incredible women as they reflect on what inspires them to work in this space.

Co-Leadership Model as a Resiliency Approach

We are on our own resiliency journey at PartnersGlobal as we navigate the shifts on our operating environment. One way to shore up our resilient capital is to build in innovative leadership and operating models like co-leadership. This approach both builds in redundancies AND creates space for inclusion and diversity of thought, which contributes to more effective problem solving and organizational management. Get to know our co-Executive Directors Roselie and Kyra by watching the short video above!

Women Peacebuilders Blog Series

Below are a series of blog posts by staff and partners at PartnersGlobal that depict the real stories and impacts of various women peacebuilders across our portfolios. Enjoy!

  April 23, 2021

George Floyd’s life mattered.

After less than a day of jury deliberations, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last May. For Floyd’s family, their surprise and relief at the verdict was expressed poignantly in his brother Philonise’s words, “Today we are able to breathe again.”  Many across the nation glued to televisions and Twitter feeds took a collective breath as we realized that our justice system had finally validated that this Black man’s life mattered — and that a system that allowed a White police officer to kill a Black man by kneeling casually on his neck for 9:29 minutes was indefensible and criminal.  Yet however uplifting and validating the verdict, it is worth remembering that many other victims have not yet and may not see justice served. 

Just moments before the verdict was announced, police in Columbus, Ohio fatally shot a 16-year-old Black girl, Ma’Khiah Bryant. It is also not lost on us that just last week, less than 10 miles from where Chauvin stood trial,  Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police during a routine traffic stop. These lost lives are more tragic reminders of the power disequilibrium that systemic racism produces across our nation. Indeed, many police practices reinforce the narrative that Black and Brown lives are threats to society that must be remanded, contained, or even brutalized. This dehumanization wrought by white supremacy in the US places BIPOC at the bottom of a racial hierarchy, where systemic violence perpetuates human rights violations upon communities of color. From mass incarceration to the militarization of police forces that disproportionately target Black and Brown people, these communities have been left at the mercy of the state, and their fury becomes their voice.

The civil resistance in America today is the result of hundreds of years of pain, anger, and fear – and it is our duty to ensure that the Chauvin verdict is a step toward healing the communal trauma of centuries of institutional oppression. The powerful, Black-led movement that organized the largest and most persistent demonstrations in US history is a reminder of how positive social change in this country happens.  We must push our lawmakers to uphold this outcome through a wholesale redesign of our criminal justice system and accountability mechanisms.

Much work and healing remain as we continue to organize and advocate for equitable justice and accountability. We can already see the ramping up of a dangerous counter-narrative from those who portray the verdict as “mob justice” – suggesting that jurors were persuaded not by testimony and evidence but by fear of the potential consequences of a not–guilty verdict – and discussion of passing laws that could target protestors. This is where organizations focused on peacebuilding and democratic reform must demonstrate resolve, vigilance, and leadership. We must amplify messages of social transformation, accountable justice, and healing through a collaborative approach that unifies our voices and networks to truly effect changes in the system that center human life and dignity.

It can seem overwhelming to know where to begin to constructively change an oppressive, abusive system. As peacebuilders, we at PartnersGlobal know that rebuilding trust is one of the cornerstones to any long-term criminal justice reform. Our organization is committed to advocating for change by first acknowledging the collective and personal trauma that our staff is experiencing and allowing ourselves as a team the time to grieve. We also acknowledge that this trauma is felt differently by our Black and Brown colleagues who experience levels of violence and historical marginalization very differently than those with lighter skin. While we know our individual experiences with injustice vary, we believe strongly that we each have a role to play in ensuring that reforms and social transformation will be legitimate, inclusive, and lasting. The Chauvin trial resulted in a guilty verdict because average citizens of all ages, colors, and races took risks to film, speak, organize, and shout about a repugnant murder by law enforcement of a citizen on a calm street in Minneapolis on a typical summer afternoon – and because a jury of peers did its civic duty to hear evidence from all sides and render a just decision that upheld the laws of the state and the principles of our country.

PartnersGlobal will make every effort to uplift and assist our peer organizations working on the front lines of racial injustice and social reform in the United States, offering support to these groups to stay resilient in this long struggle. We recognize that expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and others working to end the dehumanization of people of color is not enough. Yet it represents a critical start for collaborative advocacy and restorative justice. As we call for police to end the use of illegal force and brutality—beatings, racial abuse, unlawful killings, torture, or indiscriminate use of riot control agents —we know that the verdict doesn’t equate to the greater justice we need without systemic change. And we recognize that it will take many different groups and constituencies – activists, community leaders, policymakers, and police themselves – to achieve these kinds of structural reforms.  

We encourage our extended Partners family to join us in supporting the struggle for Black lives whether by donating money, attending protests, amplifying Black voices online, or being willing to have difficult conversations about race and racism in the US.

We honor the memories and legacies of those killed by police. To read their stories, visit:

  February 23, 2021

In honor of General Cissé , PartnersGlobal, Partners West Africa Nigeria and Partners West Africa Senegal are awarding research fellowships to two young African women researchers and practitioners working in the civil society and security sectors. Each fellow will receive a grant equivalent of 1,500,000 CFA (West African franc) to fund innovative research around the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa with a central focus on women, peace and security.

With these fellowships, the Partners Network aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders in women, peace and security and make progress toward realizing UNSCR 1325.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Only future or ongoing research projects are eligible for the Fellowship.

The selection criteria applied for the project appraisal are:

  1. Applicant’s capacity to carry out quality research (level of education, professional experience, published work, academic support);
  2. Relevance and originality of the issue in relation to current security and gender issues;
  3. Link to the themes selected for the Fellowship, as specified in Article 3;
  4. Methodology and structuring of the work;
  5. Analytical development of the project narrative and the planned fieldwork;
  6. Interest of the results and the practical impact of contributions.

Application requirements

Submit the complete application file electronically by March 15, 2021 to [email protected]

The application must contain the following files:

  • 1 Resume/CV (contact details including home address and possibly institutional address, training, career path and professional project, photograph);
  • 1 transcript of the Master’s degree and/or the doctoral research proposal approved by the committee members/ or a transcript of the doctoral/PhD diploma;
  • 1 Letter of recommendation;
  • 1 Copy of a research work already carried out (thesis chapter, scientific article, etc.);
  • 1 research proposal for the General Lamine Cissé Fellowship (10 pages) including the following sections, in .doc or .docx format:
    • Aim/goal of the research;
    • Research problem;
    • Research methodology;
  • In the appendix of the research project:
    • Indicative references;
    • Research timeline;
    • Estimated research budget.

Incomplete applications or those arriving after the Closing Date will not be considered. See the flyer below for more details.

  January 15, 2021

PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen strongly urge the U.S. Department of State to reverse the designation of Ansar Allah, commonly known as the Houthis, as a terrorist organization.

Because of this decision, desperately needed humanitarian aid, as well as goods and personnel coming from the United States of America, will be prevented from entering northern Yemen, where 70 percent of the population lives. Today, after six years of war, nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s population is living below the poverty line; 120,000 have died and 500,000 have been wounded; and more than 7 million have been displaced both internally and outside the country. Those that remain lack access to basic necessities—food, water, and medicine. Every day this designation remains, the suffering of the most vulnerable families in Yemen will mount. The lives of millions are at stake.

Further, this designation counteracts years-long peacebuilding efforts by the international community and impacts the United Nations-led political peace process. This is not in the interest of Yemenis, the international community, or the United States. Therefore, we call on President-elect Biden and his administration to freeze and revoke this decision upon taking office; and we call on Congress to respond immediately to reverse this designation.

For over a decade, PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen have been working with communities most besieged by the conflict in Yemen, including those in northern Yemen. We have gained the trust of actors on both sides of this conflict and together worked to mediate disputes, improve governance and service delivery, and, most importantly, lay the foundations for long-term stability and peace. PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen are part of a network of humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organizations working throughout the country to similarly build the foundations for lasting stability and peace. This new designation threatens this work and only serves to prolong the conflict.

Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Lead at Oxfam of America, said, “Secretary Pompeo’s designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization is a dangerous and useless policy, and it will also endanger the lives of innocent people. This designation will not help in resolving the conflict, nor in achieving justice for the violations and abuses committed during the war; this will only escalate the suffering for millions of Yemenis who struggle to survive.”

One former minister and businessman said, “The decision will return us to the starting point of the conflict at a time when the various parties had entered a phase of fatigue and found a willingness to make painful concessions.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment has been echoed by Yemeni leaders throughout the country as well as those in the international community most familiar with the conflict.

We are calling on the United States to play a constructive role in resolving Yemen’s devastating conflict and mitigating the disastrous effects on the population. The United States is uniquely positioned to do this, but this new designation does the opposite.

by Julia Roigj and Liz Hume   November 10, 2020

2020 has been a historic and tumultuous year in the United States. The pandemic, mass mobilizations for social justice, and a bitter and polarizing Presidential election finally culminated in the highest voter turnout in our country’s history. While 74 million Americans are celebrating Biden and Harris’s election, 70 million Americans are not, and many are filled with existential dread.

Reflecting on President-elect Biden’s message of healing and unity, what will it take for us to come together? It feels impossible after the last four years of vitriolic divisiveness. However, the deepening divisions in the US have been building long before the 2016 election. According to a report from Brown University this year, the US is polarizing faster than other democracies. If we are indeed at an inflection point, as Biden declared in his acceptance speech, then we must decide how not to cause harm and also contribute meaningfully to depolarization. Building a peaceful society will require addressing the structural inequalities and grievances that drive conflict and polarization AND prioritize restoring relationships and rebuilding trust.

Here are four ways Americans can start building peace today:

1. None of us are immune to the dynamics of polarization. A progressive celebrating the Biden win called on his Twitter followers to reach out to at least one Trump supporter to offer empathy and to find an issue of common ground. He received thousands of outraged responses declaring “the other side” irredeemable. Polarization experts believe in-group and out-group dynamics in a polarized society cause all of us to become the most extreme versions of ourselves, assigning increasingly sinister motives to all those we consider as “other.” Outrage makes us feel closer to our in-group. But each of us can interrogate the effects of polarization on our perceptions. We should now seek our connections as parents, as music fans, or as sports aficionados irrespective of our political leanings.

2. Bridge-building can make polarization worse. Bridge builders can fan the flames of polarization by giving a platform that fuels polarized viewpoints. Researchers caution against efforts to build bridges in deeply polarized environments but rather advise highlighting stories of everyday people who do not necessarily reflect either extreme. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also tweeted after the election: “So many Trump voters are also working families and believed that he would improve their lives. We must see that they are hurting and fight attempts to divide us as we work to rebuild our beloved nation.” She did not receive the same vitriol, most likely because she highlighted the commonalities of working families trying to improve their lives and called out the people seeking to divide.

3. Time to complexify the narrativeWe all draw on deeply entrenched narratives that our unconscious mind often manifests as common senseWhat is a narrative? They are “a foundational framework for understanding both history and current events, and inform our basic concepts of identity, community, and belonging.” Many live by deep narratives of freedom, faith, and patriotism, while others bring to the foreground narratives of historical oppression, systemic racism, and runaway capitalism that drive inequality and injustice. The divided mainstream and social media also fuel misinformation and can exacerbate seemingly black and white narratives. For example, a viral video of a young man in a MAGA hat in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a perceived confrontation with a Native American man received intense public outrage before a fuller picture of the incident emerged. A peacebuilding approach to social justice must include a commitment to interrogating our own biases, acknowledging different ways of making sense of the world, and promoting more complex narratives that are factual and inclusive of diverse lived experiences.

4. Instead of calling out, calling in: Some activists are already questioning our new President-elect’s focus on national healing as a moderate’s suspicious call for “civility” — or code for not making too many waves in the fight for systemic change. Human rights activists will and should continue to work tirelessly to confront insidious racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-gay and transgender discrimination, and inequality in our society. And yet, during this time of such polarization, we must seek to uncover healing tactics for the change we want to see that brings more supporters to our cause(s).

There is a need for human rights activists and peacebuilders to reflect together on how to “call in” those who could join our coalitions and refrain from “calling out” potential allies who may make mistakes or don’t hold the same world views on all issues. For example, a mistake in calling someone by the wrong pronoun is an opportunity for education and dialogue. No one responds well to being criticized or belittled without the follow-up of how they can better understand and participate in societal change on which we agree. Peacebuilders stand up for what is right, but we do so in a way that recognizes the power of restorative justice, what is redeemable in all of us, and the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings.

PartnersGlobalthe Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Humanity United are launching a new initiative to unite Social Justice Activism with Peacebuilding through applied research on polarization, narrative engagement, and taking lessons from effective depolarization initiatives in other deeply divided countries. This inflection point will require all of us to self-reflect on the role we are playing and will continue to play in healing our nation.

Julia Roig is the CEO of PartnersGlobal and the Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. @Jroig_Partners

Elizabeth (Liz) Hume is the Vice President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding@Lizhume4peace

  November 10, 2020

We are pleased to share with you an opportunity for local civil society organizations interested in participating in a capacity building process to strengthen their resiliency in the face of potential impacts of growing restrictions on civic space. The Resiliency+ Process, developed out of the need for a new organizational model to combat the rise of changing civic spaces around the world, will take selected organizations through a structured process to increase their organizational resilience over a period of 12 months. This opportunity is part of a larger initiative under the USAID-funded Enabling and Protecting Civic Spaces (EPCS) – Illuminating New Solutions and Programmatic Innovations for Resilient Spaces or INSPIRES activity.

Organizations based in Ecuador, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Serbia will be eligible to apply. At a minimum, organizations must be a locally registered civil society organization, have at least four years of experience, and be committed to the 12-month process. Please see the attached documents for more details.

If you’re interested in participating in this opportunity, please fill out this Google Form Application by 11:59 pm EST on the following dates:

  • Kenya: November 6th
  • Nigeria, Serbia, and Senegal: November 16th
  • Ecuador: November 27th
  • Georgia: December 1st

Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

Check the documents below for more details:

by Ashleigh Subramanian-Montgomery, Alexa Fedynsky, and Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji   October 1, 2020

This piece was written by Ashleigh Subramanian-Montgomery, Alexa Fedynsky, and Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji with research assistance from Nadira Saraswati

On October 31, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. In reinforcing conflict and war’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, this landmark Resolution recognizes their crucial roles in transforming conflict and calls for their participation and inclusion in peacebuilding and decision-making processes at the local, national, and international levels.

Globally we have made some progress toward implementing the Resolution over the past 20 years. For example, 86 UN Member states have adopted National Action Plans to implement 1325 domestically according to the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom. But by and large, women continue to be excluded from peacebuilding processes – this despite substantive findings showing women’s inclusion leads to countries reaching peace agreements quicker and sustaining peace longer.

Research from UN Women’s Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) ‘Women’s Participation in Peace Processes’ shows that:

  • Women’s participation in peace agreements increases the likelihood of peace agreement lasting for two years by 20 percent and increases the likelihood of peace agreements lasting for 15 years by 35 percent.
  • Civil society’s participation in peace agreements decreases the probability of the peace agreement failing by 64 percent.

Even with this overwhelming evidence, CFR notes  that between 1992 and 2018 women were still hugely underrepresented in peace processes, comprising only 3 percent  of mediators, 4 percent of signatories, and 13 percent of negotiators.

But we know these statistics. We know the data points. We know that including women strengthens international relations, makes states safer and more secure, and is simply smart foreign policy. These are the numbers Women, Peace, and Security activists, advocates, academics, analysts, and policymakers leverage as a rallying cry for change.

In light of our stalled progress, the Women, Peace, and Security Team at PartnersGlobal aims to answer the why. Why are women still excluded from peace processes, despite the research showing their inclusion leads to quicker and more sustainable peace? What will it take to change this reality?

Below are 5 key barriers we identified and our recommendations to close this gap and realize 1325’s vision.

1.      Structural Exclusion

One of the main reasons women are still not included in peace processes is structural exclusion from decision-making positions. Women are held out of leadership positions in government, non-state entities, warring parties, political parties, diplomacy, and mediation. Even the few women within these leadership spheres are excluded from decision-making power.

Further, the criteria for both who is granted a seat at the negotiating table and how these positions are selected play a key role in compounding this structural exclusion. As the International Civil Society Action Networks’ ‘Better Peace Tool’ shows: “The qualification for armed actors is their capacity to wreak violence.”

In other words, the same actors responsible for creating conflict are then entrusted with the decision-making roles in ending conflict. Conversely, the same qualifications do not apply for those working to prevent and resolve violent conflict, namely women, who instead are left behind in decision-making. It is unfortunate but unsurprising that this structural exclusion perpetuates the “conflict trap,” in which countries that have experienced violent conflict face the highest rates of relapse into conflict.

2.      Devaluation of Women’s Role in Informal Peace Processes

Those with decision-making power continue to exclude women in peace processes by not paying enough attention – or giving credence to – women’s roles in informal Track II peace processes. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security defines Track II processes as “diplomatic or consultative processes between or among groups who may not be principal parties to the conflict, and who are concerned with contributing to war-ending negotiations.”

While women continue to face exclusion from “official negotiations between warring parties”, or formal Track I peace processes, the Georgetown Institute’s findings show women’s groups inclusion in 71 percent of Track II peace processes. Formalizing and mainstreaming Track II processes into Track I peace processes would elevate the important roles women play in conflict resolution at the local level.

3.      Hegemonic Masculinity and Patriarchal Norms

While women in conflict face rape, sexual exploitation, and gender-based violence, these crimes  are often presented as ‘women’s issues,’ viewed as having little relevance to peace processes at best or as a distraction from them at worst. This dismissal of the gendered dynamics of conflict and war, a result of harmful patriarchal norms, hinders women’s participation.

This perspective fails to recognize that hegemonic masculinity is institutionally entrenched within peace processes. Patriarchal underpinnings control this space so thoroughly that, as Annika Kronsell notes, “Because such norms are dominant in the institution, they do not require any explicit politics. Masculinity does not need to be thematized. Instead, masculine standards and ideals continue to be reproduced simply through routine maintenance of the institutions.”

The gendered dynamics of conflict are only labeled as such when they pertain to ‘women’s issues.’

4.      Funding

Funding constraints present a tangible barrier to women’s inclusion and participation in peace processes. Financial support would open up opportunities for women to effectively prepare to impact negotiations and mediations, but funding is almost always insufficient  to meet this need.

Peace processes traditionally take place in a neutral location far from the actual conflict, so to even get to the location one must pay for travel and accommodation. These costs are often prohibitive.

To add to the financial strain, less than 25 percent of National Action Plans include a budget upon adoption, making implementation for these plans near impossible. Funding also presents a looming challenge for Track II processes whose informal nature are even less prioritized for financial backing.

5.      Pressure to speak with one voice

Women face additional criteria for inclusion in peace processes, which are expected of almost no other actors. For example, women are expected to form mobilized coalitions that speak in a united voice.

PartnersGlobal prioritizes women’s coalition-building and the power of collective action and voice and recognizes that women’s coalitions that present and push for issues as a unified front are much more likely to make it to the negotiating table and have their recommendations listened to.

Our work supports and upholds establishing cross-border women’s forums, defining common women’s agendas, and creating women’s local, national, and global networks as key contributors to lasting peace.

We celebrate the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative and UN Women findings that “women’s coalitions have pushed for agreements to be signed more often than any other group of actors,” while also acknowledging that almost no other group of actors is asked to form coalitions to be included in a peace process to begin with.

Filling the Gap: Approaches for Women’s Effective Participation in Peace Processes

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, where do we go from here? How do we ensure real and meaningful progress in advancing women’s inclusion in peace processes?

Findings from Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative and UN Women show that women are included in peace processes in countries:

  • with seasoned women’s civil society organizations, which bring expertise in mass mobilizing and organizing;
  • with existing gender inclusion provisions or commitments, which provide a pathway to the negotiating table and prevent those in power from completely leaving women out;
  • with support from international and regional women’s networks that provide support to domestic and local women’s groups; and
  • with active women’s networks, groups, and movements.

Building on existing findings, PartnersGlobal proposes a series of approaches to advance progress on the Women, Peace, and Security agenda:

  • Fund new and existing women’s local, regional, and transnational consortiums, coalitions, networks, and movements in conflict-afflicted, fragile, and post-conflict states to institutionalize women’s decision-making roles in mediation, negotiation, mass mobilization, and peacebuilding, and in monitoring the implementation of peace agreements.
  • Support local women peacebuilders in: coaching on mediation approaches to proactively address and reduce violent conflict; creating the space and opportunities for women to engage in conflict resolution; and building women’s knowledge and capacity in conflict management, mediation, arbitration, negotiation, and communication.
  • Increase resources, training, and visibility for women mediator networks at the local and regional level to enhance inclusion in peace processes at the national and international level.
  • Mandate gender-inclusive criteria for each delegation participating in a peace process.
  • Expand pathways and programs for women’s leadership and decision-making roles in government, diplomacy, mediation, and political office in times of peace and stability.
  • Educate traditional mediation and negotiation actors on the effectiveness of informal Track II peace processes and integrate informal peace processes into formal peace processes.
  • Develop monitoring mechanisms to uphold the commitments in UNSCR 1889 calling for women’s inclusion at early stages and throughout peace and post-conflict recovery processes.
  • Create and adopt gender-inclusive provisions, policies, and laws that promote gender equality and address the root causes of conflict that lead to sustainably peaceful societies.
  • Fund 1) Track II informal peace processes; 2) logistics for women’s participation in peace processes; and 3) NAPs at the time of adoption.

The data and statistics we have leaned on for the past 20 years are so much more than just numbers; they are the stories, experiences, and lived realities of women working to resolve conflict in extraordinary circumstances. We will one day arrive at the year 2040, and we will once again have to account for the progress we have made on this agenda. Though we have yet not come far enough, there is unending potential in how far we can go.

  September 21, 2020

On this international day of peace, let us shape peace together, recognizing and supporting the important role of local women mediators in community based conflict resolution efforts. In Yemen, women peacebuilders have used their conflict resolution skills to prevent local conflicts, promote social cohesion and women’s participation in community and social initiatives.

PartnersGlobal and its affiliate, Partners Yemen, collaborated in a community-based conflict mitigation program to create sustainable mechanisms for local conflict resolution in Yemen’s tribal areas. The program supported local women peacebuilders in: coaching on mediation approaches to proactively address and reduce violent conflict, creating the space and opportunities for women to engage in conflict resolution, and building women’s knowledge and capacity in conflict management, mediation, arbitration, negotiation, and communication.

Spotlight on Local Yemeni Peacebuilders:

Hayam Talib Al Qarmushi is Chairman of the National Committee in Shabwa Governorate, Yemen.  Hayam has worked as a trainer in conflict resolution for various civil society groups in her community after being involved in training programs provided by Partners Yemen. Hayam participated in the national dialogue conference in Sana’a and has been active in media, working with Shabwa Radio locally, and has participated in several meetings and television dialogues to address societal issues in Yemen.

Nusiba Saqaf Mohammed Alawi is the Executive Director of the Ruwad Foundation for Development and Human Rights in Lahj Governorate, Yemen. She is a longstanding collaborator of Partners Yemen in conflict resolution, women’s empowerment and dialogue in tribal areas, contributing to the creation of community committees to solution community grievances. Furthermore, Nusiba has involved her local community in activities proving women’s role in enhancing social cohesion and community participation.

Athar Ali Mohammed Yahya is the founding member and Director of Planning and Development of Alif Baa in Aden Governorate, Yemen. Alif Baa was also a participating organization in Partner’s Yemen’s conflict mitigation and local engagement and advocacy dialogue program. Yahya’s professional expertise spans conflict, peacebuilding, transitional justice, and institutional strengthening. With her outstanding experience and skills in conflict resolution and mediation, Athar has helped establish a second generation of young women activists who are able to work in different social fields in a society where conflict constantly permeates.

by Julia Roig   September 15, 2020

On September 15, we recognize International Democracy Day. And on this day in 2020, we are justifiably worried about the decline of democracy around the world. Democracy-building as a field is not needed only in newer democracies, but rather is clearly a shared challenge globally as we confront intensifying polarization, the proliferation of misinformation, rising autocratic tendencies in many political leaders, and growing mistrust in government institutions. To confront these myriad challenges, democracy-promoters, human rights defenders and social justice advocates are called to come together in new ways, but we must also reflect on new tools and skills to respond to this moment.

  • Time for Restorative Advocacy: This is a practice that PartnersGlobal is championing in recognition of our increasingly polarized environments. We observe the effects of many current advocacy efforts that exacerbate divisions and are keeping us from coming together to find solutions to our most pressing problems. Our current definition of Restorative Advocacy is “working for social change in a manner that is self-reflective of our own cognitive biases, intentionally inclusive of different perspectives; advocacy approaches that adhere to principles of non-violence, social justice and human rights with a long-term view of restoring broken, polarized societal relationships; seeking change that maintains the basis for a democratic, pluralistic society.” Partners is convening new alliances with academics who study polarization, together with educators, movement leaders and non-profit networks to refine this concept together and expand Restorative Advocacy in practice.
  • Building Narrative Competency: PartnersGlobal also works with human rights defenders and leaders of social movements to fully embrace narrative competency as a key tool in their toolbox for social change. This includes an understanding of narrative engagement not only for strategic communications and campaigning, but as an entry point for all human relationships and understanding to build more inclusive and diverse coalitions and public support. Narrative competency includes a personal commitment to self-examination, willingness to be open to collaborate with unlikely bedfellows, and an intellectual curiosity to understand and incorporate different world views when common goals are identified. (See our Engaging with Narratives for Peace Guide.) This core competency internalizes the fact that all humans are multi-dimensional and have several -sometimes divergent or competing – narratives that drive our sense-making of the world. This is a long-term endeavor to build this competency – challenging ourselves to think, work and relate to each other in new ways that will impact our communications and those we are in relationship with, ultimately resulting in better outcomes for democratic change.
  • Uncovering a New Shared Story: The current field of “democracy defenders” is insular and in need of branching out to different actors and sectors to achieve relevancy for a broader audience. We need to be able to speak plainly about our values and work, in a way that will resonate beyond our own community and professional fields, and that has legitimacy with a wider public constituency. Terms like “social justice” “civic space” and even “human rights” need to be re-examined, and boiled down to their essential essence to then be applied to specific issues that people care about – like climate change, health care, economic equality, racial justice, women’s rights, etc. We need to uncover a new “core story” of social change that incorporates a rights-based approach yet can unite different movements around a shared future. This new story should not distinguish between a global south and global north – we have shared challenges, with different contexts and yet with many talents and perspectives to contribute to the change we seek to bring about in the world. PartnersGlobal is partnering broadly with creatives, marketers and the artistic community to help uncover this “reframing” for social change. It is an audacious goal, and yet one that is recognizable to many as necessary for new movements to emerge on a global scale that are impactful locally and break out of our linear political divides.

Finally, for democracy promoters to achieve all this during such trying times, we must be mindful of the resiliency of the civil society sector to not only survive during the tumult, but to thrive. PartnersGlobal Resiliency+ Framework offers civil society a roadmap for tackling their own resiliency through peer mentoring and coaching to reflect on these needed adaptations. By working together with the Partners Network (and beyond) on our resiliency journeys, we acknowledge and celebrate the many ways our colleagues inspire us to continue to strive for democratic ideals on Democracy Day and every other day.