The OSCE Gender Issues Programme and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) held the second “Women’s Networks WIN Together” regional conference on networks across women peacebuilders and mediators from Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia on 5-7 February in Vienna.
Building on the momentum of the first conference held in Istanbul in June 2023, as part of the OSCE commitments under the WPS-HA Compact, over 30 women peacebuilders and mediators from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine further discussed WPS national and regional priorities and common advocacy strategies to strengthen the women-led networks across all three regions.
The conference provided a space for inter-regional and inter-generational dialogue, cooperation and knowledge-sharing among the participants. Through training workshops, panel discussions, and bilateral meetings, the conference also served as a platform for sharing tailored messages and recommendations to OSCE participating States and the Secretariat.
“Regional networks are incredible tools to empower and protect peacebuilders and implement on the ground the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. To be impactful in our actions, we need to listen and support grassroots peacebuilders,” noted Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues during her opening remarks. A dedicated event opened by US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter and attended by several WIN project donors offered the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by regional WPS networks with key recommendations shared including the need for long-term, sustainable and flexible financial support to women peacebuilders and mediators.
Women peacebuilders and mediators in the three regions face multiple barriers, from limited resources to dependency on project-based funding. Participants emphasized that protection mechanisms for women peacebuilders and mediators need to be developed, as they are often the subject of online and offline harassment and attacks.
Women peacebuilders also stressed the importance of defending the achievements of the past decades in light of recent pushback against women’s rights. “Our successes as women peacebuilders and mediators are fragile and sometimes failure seems to be more widely broadcasted than achievements,” highlighted Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of the GNWP. “We need to reflect on and celebrate what we are contributing as individual, organizations and networks,” she added.
The conference took place within the framework of the multi-year ExB project “WIN for Women and Men: Strengthening Comprehensive Security through Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality”. This project is aimed at advancing gender equality to achieve and maintain stable, prosperous, and peaceful societies in the OSCE area.