OGIP Commentary 31st October 2019
Our Generation for Inclusive Peace is a youth-led research and advocacy collective grounded in intersectional feminist principles and methodologies. We believe young people around the world are carrying out incredible work in the name of peace and yet continue to be excluded from the spaces where Peace and Security policy and practices are shaped. In order to achieve Inclusive Peace it is essential to listen to the voices of young people and to disrupt the current elitist structures that deny youth meaningful participation. Young people are the future, but there is no point in waiting, they are also the now. Currently young people are working to demand a more peaceful world and a more inclusive society. Our Generation for Inclusive Peace is here to support those youth voices and demand a more Inclusive Peace now.
What is Peace and Security and what does it have to do with Youth and Women?
Peace and Security policy and practice is the approach to resolving conflict and building sustainable peace. When resolving conflict, it is impossible to address the root causes without understanding the perspectives of everyone affected. When building peaceful societies, it is essential to integrate the needs of everyone living in that society to ensure peace is sustainable.
The Peace and Security sector, however, is often dominated by patriarchal institutions, located in the global north. These actors influence how those working within the sector perceive what peace means and looks like, and the practice of peacebuilding itself; they shape where the funding for peacebuilding goes and therefore which conflicts are priorities in the eyes of the international community.
The structures that currently concentrate power are not reflective of the true diversity of those actively contributing to the development of peace and security around the world. It is to the detriment of sustainable peace that this range of voices and perspectives are not heard.
Currently women make up roughly half of the global population, and young women and young men* between the ages of 15-29 count for approximately 25 per cent of the global population. “Yet both women and young people have been traditionally excluded from the realm of peace and security.”
This was recognised by the United Nations Security Council when they developed the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in 2000 and the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda in 2015. Both agendas recognise that conflict affects women and youth in ways specific to their identity and that it is necessary to include both women and young people in peace processes. Whilst these normative commitments are an achievement, the practice, in reality, is still lacking.
Despite an initial increase in the number of women participating in high-level peace processes following the introduction of the WPS agenda, by 2016 women’s participation in delegations at peace negotiations declined. The percentage of signed peace agreements containing gender-specific provisions also went down in the same year. In fact, in 2016 only 40% of all agreements signed that year included even one reference to women.
At least these figures are being tracked, however. When it comes to youth “while over 1,000 peace agreements have been signed globally in the last two decades, no comprehensive studies have assessed the role and impact of young people during and in the lead up to these peace agreements.” This is despite the fact that an estimated 408 million youth live in a state or province affected by armed conflict. Young people and women find themselves affected by every conflict and yet are still denied a role in resolving conflict and contributing to the social transformation that they want to see in their communities.
Dividing these categories of ‘youth’ and ‘women’ creates a risk of ignoring the role of young women in peace and security. “Most peace and security interventions targeting ‘youth’ tend to prioritise young men, and consider young women mostly as victims of conflict”. Whilst young women do face a disproportionately high risk of sexual and gender based violence in conflict, post-conflict and fragile settings, they are also highly active actors in the peace and security sphere and merit recognition and support for their work.
Beyond youth and women
Current language shaping international policy and practice divides identity into neat and binary categories and therefore fails to acknowledge diverse, complex and intersectional identities. Intersectional identities are understood as the crossover of different elements of people's social and political identities that shape the way they are perceived and how they perceive the world, and is something that is not fully reflected in the peace and security framework as it stands.
Furthermore, the assumed gender identity of ‘male’ and the associated tropes of masculinity apparent in the YPS agenda, and the limited gender identities explicitly included in the WPS agenda are not only detrimental to reinforcing gendered associations, but are also exclusionary to individuals with diverse or non binary gender identities.
The WPS and YPS agendas and Peace and Security practices do not go far enough to be truly inclusive of diverse and intersectional identities, in particular in relation to gender and sexuality. Nor do they acknowledge or work to unpack global structural inequalities. For peace to be truly inclusive and reflective of the needs of all, it is essential to incorporate diverse perspectives and centre the voices of traditionally marginalised people in peace and security spaces and peacebuilding activities.
Why Our Generation for Inclusive Peace?
Our Generation for Inclusive Peace (OGIP) is a youth-driven, intersectional feminist initiative. As an organisation we believe in an interdisciplinary feminist approach in both the work we publish and the working environment we foster, this means bringing attention to and breaking down intersecting and overlapping oppressions through diverse advocacy and research. As a collective we are actively committed to working against racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and ableism through our work and working methods. As part of this principle we acknowledge the need for continual growth and learning through active listening practices, creating space for conversation and acting on feedback from our contributors and members.
Established in the context of the approaching 20th anniversary of the WPS agenda and the growing visibility of the YPS agenda, OGIP envisions a future where the voices and needs of young people, in particular young women, are centred in peace and security spaces. In this future, policy and practice are grounded in feminist approaches, with the transformation of power and gender dynamics as essential requirements to inclusive and sustainable peace.
We work to make current structures, policy and practice in peace and security spaces more inclusive, intersectional and decolonised. Engaging with the WPS and YPS agendas, OGIP platforms the experiences and perspectives of young and diverse people to challenge exclusive spaces and push these agendas further.
We believe in interdisciplinary, feminist research, outreach and advocacy as essential tools for advancing inclusive peace and security. By integrating young voices into peace and security conversations, we will develop responsive and relevant agendas that reflect the concerns of younger generations.
OGIP will work in collaboration with organisations and individuals with similar aims and values, aiming to strengthen each other’s work and learn from one another’s approaches. Tackling the challenges set out must be a collaborative effort, acknowledging the work of activists that have come before us and working as a community to dismantle hierarchy and inequality in peace and security.
OGIP is a growing youth movement, looking for more contributors and participants. We believe that everyone should have their voices heard and their perspectives acknowledged. If you are interested in becoming involved, get in touch with us at OGIPcontact@gmail.com. Work with us to speak your peace.
*The data used does not disaggregate beyond binary interpretations of gender identity, We acknowledge this as representative of common failings in current research practices to account for the identities and perspectives of non-binary folk.