Many women peace activists around the world have been putting themselves on the front lines, pushing for the protection and empowerment of women and girls in conflict-affected areas. With support from UN Women and funding from the European Union, in Jordan, young women are working to build more inclusive, peaceful and cohesive societies where gender-specific needs are met, and women and youth lead in addressing violent extremism.
Tasneem Al-Abdallat is a young Jordanian activist who has made empowering women and promoting women’s rights her main goals.
“Women make up half of society and half of the world’s population. Promoting women’s rights and creating an enabling environment where they can express their abilities and creativity will allow us to build more peaceful, secure and progressive societies,” says Al-Abdallat. Motivated by her desire to give back to the community and foster positive change, she joined the ‘Youth for Women, Peace and Security’ programme as a volunteer. The programme is implemented by Generations for Peace, a non-profit organization, and UN Women, with the support of the European Union.
“I wanted to motivate and lead youth to address the causes of conflict and violence,” she adds. ““I believe that we must all work towards increasing young people’s awareness and representation in peace and security, as well as in decision-making processes. And by enhancing the capacity of women and youth to resolve conflicts and address gender-based discrimination peacefully, they can build more peaceful, secure and prosperous communities.”
Empowering women and girls with disabilities to become peacemakers
Lina Al-Maaberah, a Jordanian teacher at a centre providing education and rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, is committed to ensuring that women and girls with disabilities can live a life free of discrimination and bring about change within society. “I strongly believe that people with disabilities, including women and girls, must have the right to realize their full potential and lead a safe and healthy life.”
She has been taking part in a UN Women-backed initiative that supports the full and meaningful integration of youth with disabilities into society. The initiative took place under the wider Preventing Violent Extremism: Integrating Gender Perspectives programme launched in early 2019 by UN Women and Generations For Peace in Jordan, with support from the European Union.
Through the initiative, she has worked closely with girls with various disabilities and helped them become more integrated in their communities, interact with their peers through arts and sport, and overcome challenges, including discrimination and exclusion. Not only did the girls become more confident and achieve progress from a personal standpoint, the wider community benefited as well as they understood and valued the contribution of women and girls more.
“I am proud to have participated in this programme,” says Al-Maaberah. “The girls were given an avenue to actively participate in society, and the whole community became more supportive and open to include them as an integral part of society. It was wonderful to witness this shift and see cultural barriers being torn down.”
Since its launch in early 2019, the programme has reached nearly 50,000 youth beneficiaries so far in Jordan, as well as people across social media, and it aims to reach an additional 360 beneficiaries from different groups and 11,000 through social media platforms. The messages spread through social media focused on promoting the women, peace and security agenda and aimed to raise awareness on gender equality, the role of women in society, as well as peacebuilding, prevention of violent extremism and gender-based violence.
These efforts have been made under the programme, Preventing Violent Extremism: Integrating Gender Perspectives, run by UN Women in partnership with the European Union. Launched in February 2019, the programme is being implemented at the global level and piloted in Pakistan and Jordan.