Young Women as Drivers of Peace: Providing 360° Support to Emerging Women Leaders

Home / Young Women as Drivers of Peace: Providing 360° Support to Emerging Women Leaders
June 17, 2020

In 2020, Search Sri Lanka started the ‘Young Women as Drivers of Peace: Providing 360° Support to Emerging Women Leaders’ project. The project will support emerging women leaders with mentoring and networking, as well as providing small grants for peacebuilding interventions within their communities. The program works with emerging young women and communities in Ampara, Puttalam, Batticaloa, and Kurunegala.

Although the war in Sri Lanka ended 11 years ago, the country is experiencing a fragile peace, with mistrust between communities exacerbated by the Easter Sunday Attacks.  Young people care about these issues, but their representation in peacebuilding and governance is often limited, particularly for women and ethnic or religious minorities. The project will therefore target those young women who may not have been exposed to traditional peacebuilding tools, such as joint conflict analyses, preventive action plans, and interest-based advocacy, as well as the overlooked majority of grassroots youth groups that are often relatively informal but make critical contributions to peace and security. In taking this approach, the project aims to reverse traditional power dynamics and put power in the hands of young women leaders.

The project uses Search’s flagship Youth 360 approach, which aims to create a new culture of engagement between the international community and young people working in the peacebuilding space. The Youth 360 approach treats young women as powerful partners, not just beneficiaries.

With the funding of the United Nations Peace Building Fund, the Search Sri Lanka will implement this 18-month project in partnership with four local organizations: the Women’s Resource Center, Muslim Women’s Development Trust, Sarvodaya Shanthi Sena, and the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum.

Planned Activities:

  1. Workshops on collaborative leadership and the Common Ground Approach to conflict transformation for project participants.
  2. Women-led collaborative context assessments to identify points of tension, current conflicts, and entry points for peacebuilding interventions in their communities.
  3. Selection and implementation of young-women led initiatives.
  4. Targeted mentorship program led by experienced women leaders to support grant recipients in designing, implementing, and monitoring their initiatives.
  5. Cross-district networking and exchange visits so women leaders can share experiences, visit significant locations, meet people affected by war or violence, and identify issues of mutual interest.
  6. Learning and consultations throughout the project to document best practices in a learning paper.

How we are adapting to COVID-19: Poverty, conflict, social norms, and gender discrimination make women and girls more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and less likely to access critical services including general healthcare. They also face economic disruption, increased household burdens, and increases in gender-based violence as the government implements measures to limit the spread of the virus. The Youth 360 project in Sri Lanka will support young women to reckon with the impact of the pandemic on gender and conflict dynamics in their context assessments. The project will also leverage digital technologies to provide online mentorship for emerging women leaders.

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