Changing the conversation and shifting beliefs about women’s power and protection

Grappling with war and trauma across the Greater Horn of Africa, a group of 40 fearless grassroots leaders, G40, were coached and mentored, inimitably, by former heads of state and government to build their leverage with power brokers — in a project premised on the potential decision-making superiority of a group of far-flung, diversely-able people experiencing extreme insecurity personally and professionally.

Abdoulie Janneh, Kim Campbell, Erastus Mwencha and Mary Robinson at the launch of G40 in Addis Abeba, October 6-9, 2009

G40 strategised and rehearsed with Club de Madrid former state/government leaders to engage key decision-makers, inform and affect recovery for Northern Uganda, constitution-making in Somalia, the prevention of violence in post-referendum Sudan, the IGAD Peace and Security Strategy, and the development of Regional Action Plans on implementation of UNSCR 1325. Collective learning was facilitated by the implementing partnership between Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange, Institute for Security Studies and Club de Madrid.

The funding proposal for this first-time, experimental strategy told an entirely unprecedented story about connecting grassroots women and highest-level decision-makers that attracted €1.2 million from German, Norwegian and Belgian governments and the European Commission, and mobilised sizeable non-financial support across the United Nations and African Union.

G40 with Mahboub Maalim, IGAD Executive Secretary on mainstreaming UNSCR 1325 into the IGAD Peace and Security Strategy. Djibouti, December 2009

“If you do not understand the role of certain women in their communities, you do not understand how they can be supporters in the process of creating order, and the mission will be a failure. By dint of experience and error, we are learning in the world how to understand that women are key to the success of these processes, so I think it is very important to emphasize the work we are doing here in this project to gather able and skilled women.”

Kim Campbell, former Canadian Prime Minister and Club de Madrid member

Intensive and extensive outreach mission to Brussels led by Kamilia Kuku (Sudan), Margaret Akullu (Uganda) and Asli Duale (Somalia), September 8-10, 2010

Decisions about local security problems should be made, as much as possible, by people close to the problem: by women with first-hand knowledge of the causes and extreme effects of the evolving situation on the ground.”

Kamilia Kuku, speaking on behalf of G40 in Brussels, at the “10 years of UNSCR 1325: Ensuring Women’s Participation in Peace and Security” conference hosted by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere. September 9, 2010

With dedicated support from Kim Campbell (Canada), Mary Robinson (Ireland), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia) and Kjell Bondevik (Norway), the G40 melting pot of teachers, humanitarian workers, lawyers, peace activists, political scientists, business professionals, historians, social workers, human rights defenders and journalists engaged and worked with hundreds of senior officials and activists across the Greater Horn of Africa and beyond, including Zanele Mbeki (photo #3, fifth column), Rosalind Marsden (#1, fourth column), Gladwell Otieno (#2, fourth column), Jackie Weatherspoon (#3, third column), Mohamed Ali Nur (#1, third column) and Florence Butegwa (#2, first column)

“The number of officials meeting and hearing the needs of a united, regional group of grassroots women has risen within a short time frame. Grassroots women are now actively involved in the recommendation, monitoring, and advising at different levels of peace and security decision making. They are redefining the traditional practices of peace and security meetings by being present, and bring innovative strategies to the table.”

In External Evaluation Report (period 2009-2010) prepared by Junko Kim for Club de Madrid, Isis-WICCE and ISS


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