Since 2011, WILPF has worked with women activists and women groups from countries experiencing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. WILPF has contributed to feminist movement building and supported the effort of local women organisations to build peace and combat militarisation.

WILPF has therefore proposed to deliver a specialised training to women activists from Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The details of each component of the training was finalised after the completion of a needs assessment to be carried out with women activists in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The results of the needs assessment were used to refine the objectives and content of the training so that the training responds to as much of the participants’ needs as possible. The purpose of this training was to provide activists with the specialised expertise they have identified through the delivery of expertise and knowledge and the sharing and communication of experiences from different conflict situations in a safe space. The training focused on three areas that WILPF’s partners have identified as particularly relevant to their work in conflict. This training will equip participants with:

  • Knowledge and understanding of international humanitarian law, which was conducted by Geneva Call;
  • Advocacy tools to combat the use of arms; and
  • Knowledge of how to build effective, sustainable national and regional
  • Coalitions and general advocacy skills

Despite the different conflict dynamics and particularities in each of these conflict countries, women human rights defenders face very similar patterns of violations, discrimination and exclusion. As part of our efforts to support the building of a consolidated feminist movement in the region, we provided this common space for women activists from Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen to exchange experiences, share lessons and best practices, in an attempt to set the first building block of a common regional strategy for human rights defenders from these countries.

The women activists from Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen discussed the issues facing women in general and activists in particular, identified the stakeholders they would like to build stronger relations with in order to respond to these issues, as well as the impediments and stakeholders hindering them from fulfilling their work.

Participants identified several strategies to strengthen the protection of women and girls, and to increase and enhance the participation of women across the peace and security spectrum. These strategies mainly revolved around the building of trust, coalitions and partnerships amongst civil society actors at the local, national, regional and international level; developing capacities of women activists and broader civil society; advocating at the local, national, regional and international level; and raising public awareness and transforming education and aspirations.