Although Iraq has made strides in advancing the inclusion of youth and women in the peace and security agenda – being the first Middle Eastern country to adopt a WPS National Action Plan (NAP) – it continues to present several structural barriers to achieving inclusive peace and security. Key among these barriers is the lack of collaboration among women’s rights organizations (WROs) and youth-led organizations (YLOs) across dividing lines. Participation of WROs and YLOs in peace and security processes is often limited to women and youth who represent elite interests, ignoring the intersectional exclusion of young women and other marginalized groups. Some WROs and YLOs also lack the technical skills and strategic direction to consolidate their influence over municipal and national-level peace processes and build broad-based coalitions for expanded impact. At the institutional level, efforts to promote diverse women and youth’s involvement in official peace and security processes often fail to ensure meaningful inclusion, or at most, facilitate inclusion only in so-called “women’s issues” or “youth’s issues” in silo from the main peace or political negotiations. Adding to this, patriarchal and gerontocratic social norms that further discrimination and exclusion undermine women and youth’s meaningful participation in peace and security, while conventional norms of masculinity pressure men and boys to adhere to strict standards of masculinity.
- To consolidate Iraqi WRO and YLOs’ strategic engagement and influence in municipal and national peace and reconciliation processes.
- To motivate key sub-national and national institutions to strengthen inclusive policies and standards facilitating inclusive youth and women’s participation in peace and security.
- To promote shifts in social norms around Iraqi women and youth’s meaningful inclusion in peace and security at all levels, including stronger alliances with men and boys.
Women, Youth, Peace, and Security (WYPS) is a four-year program that aims to strengthen women and youth’s meaningful, enduring participation in advancing inclusive peace and security in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. In Iraq, Search for Common Ground has partnered with Women Empowerment Organization (WEO) to implement the IPS program. Recognizing that inclusive peace is mutually reinforced through bottom-up and top-down processes, IPS will amplify the influence of youth and women peacebuilders at the grassroots level, catalyze broad inclusion of grassroots peacebuilders in municipal and national institutions and peace processes, and advance social norms that support the meaningful inclusion of diverse stakeholders in peace and security.
By consolidating influence, motivating institutions, and shifting social norms, the program will contribute to an enabling environment for diverse women and youth’s increased and enduring participation in peace and security. The program also has the cross-cutting objectives of sensitizing and mobilizing influential male allies to promote women and youth’s leadership in peace and security and advancing regional networks, synergies, and cross-fertilization to strengthen inclusive peace and security. Across all the objectives, Search will engage men and boys in ways appropriate for each stakeholder type to shift perspectives around gender norms and encourage the development of male allies who champion and support women’s participation. Additionally, Search will tailor in-country programming to respond to local needs while also identifying regional synergies and opportunities for cross-fertilization, including through sustained relationship and networking building for YPS and WPS practitioners over digital platforms. This regional component will ensure that national and sub-national WPS/YPS agendas, including but not limited to NAPs, can benefit from lessons learned and best practices in other countries. In this way, national and regional activities will be both complementary and mutually reinforcing.