Women Peacebuilders in the Pandemic

Breadcrumbs

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, women peacebuilders have been frontline responders in their communities. Women peacebuilders fill critical needs by distributing face masks, soap, food, and dignity kits, and by fighting disinformation and domestic violence.

Stories from the Frontlines: Women Peacebuilders in the Pandemic documents the experiences of women peacebuilders in their own words.

If you are a woman peacebuilder, you can share your experience here

Wai Wai Nu - Myanmar

"Rights should not be restricted or restrained during the pandemic, nor should authorities use the pandemic to justify violence." Wai Wai Nu is a Rohingya activist who advocates for the rights and equality of all people in Myanmar. Wai Wai and her organization, Women's Peace Network, are calling for the protection of refugees and internally displaced peoples in Myanmar and Bangladesh who are unable to practice social distancing, wash their hands regularly, or access the internet due to poor conditions in the camps and ongoing conflict.

Chouchou Namegabe - Democratic Republic of the Congo

"They do not know how they will fight the famine and the pandemic at the same time." Chouchou Namegabe is a Congolese activist who trains Congolese women journalists to report about sexual violence and human rights abuses. Chouchou recently warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the food supply in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She and her organization, Anzafrica, are helping stave off a food shortage and potential famine by contacting farmers via text message to provide support and social distancing guidelines.

Godeliève Mukasarasi - Rwanda

"In Rwanda, the pandemic coincided with the anniversary of the genocide, increasing the level of trauma." For women in Rwanda and other conflict-affected countries, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the first national crisis they’ve experienced. Mukasarasi Godeliève founded SEVOTA to take care of widows and orphans after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and she uniquely understands the holistic support that is needed now and long-term.

Sveto Muhammad Ishoq - Afghanistan

Sveto Muhammad Ishoq founded The Chadari Project to move beyond the idea of a "singular" Afghan woman’s narrative by challenging negative stereotypes. She reports that when the #covid19 pandemic reached Afghanistan, an all-girls robotics team ages 15-17 quickly reacted. The girls, known as the Afghan Dreamers, addressed a ventilator shortage by building a low-cost model that can be mass-produced. “The history of resilience of Afghan women shows us their ability of adapting to every situation.”

Wahida Abdulla - The Philippines

Wahida Abdulla prepares free food and face masks in her community. She is an advocate with Gagandilan Mindanao Women, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to empowering women and girls for peace and the prevention of violent extremism in the Philippines.

Mary Carter - USA

“Women are feeling anxiety and fear about being unemployed, unable to pay their bills, and putting food on the table for their families” reports Mary Carter, a member of the Women’s Intercultural Center who is assisting communities in West Texas and Southern New Mexico affected by COVID-19. Mary fears many jobs lost by women she knows are permanently gone. Still, she is focused on fighting the crisis: “Our hope is that we take this opportunity to change, to create a new beginning and move forward in a more inclusive way.”

Roberta Salomone - Brazil

"Women are acting as leaders—but are not being recognized." Roberta Salomone, a journalist in Brazil, reports that in the face of increasing gender-based violence and poverty, women are fundamental to their communities’ COVID-19 response as the heads of their families and the strength of the local economy.

Lynrose Jane D. Genon - The Philippines

Lynrose Jane D. Genon is distributing "Dignity Kits" containing hygiene and sanitary items to women and girls during the COVID-19 lockdown in one of the Transitory Shelters in Marawi City in the Philippines. She is a member of Young Women Leaders for Peace and works in partnership with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Before the COVID-19 outbreak Lynrose used social media to mobilize young voters and increase youth participation in political decision making in the Philippines.

Beatriz Quintero - Colombia

“Solidarity, resilience, and the community.” These are the words Beatriz Quintero used to describe how women in Colombia are getting through the coronavirus pandemic together. She reports that ongoing conflict with the FARC compounds the problems of isolation, uncertainty, and severe economic hardship brought on by the quarantine. Beatriz is an affiliate of the Red Nacional de Mujeres, an organization of women in Colombia that defends women’s rights and advocates for women’s inclusion in politics, ending gender-based violence, and peacebuilding.

Ruth - Uganda

Ruth is an affiliate of the NAPHASH Africa Foundation in Uganda. She helps survivors of domestic violence by providing a “listening ear,” medical attention, and a day center where women can access counseling and prayer ministry, as well as produce crafts and vegetables to sell. Ruth reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased instances of domestic violence in Uganda.

Oksana Potapova - Ukraine

"Once again we are using a militarized discourse. We can displace it with the discourse of care, support, solidarity, and equality." Oksana Potapova is a Ukrainian activist who uses theater to help individuals creatively analyze challenges in their communities. She's calling for the Ukrainian government to take a gender-sensitive response to the COVID-19 crisis after seeing a surge in domestic violence in conflict-affected Eastern Ukraine. She also says women peacebuilders are playing a critical role in responding to the pandemic by using social media to provide emotional and psychological support to women who need assistance.

Rajaa Altalli - Syria

Rajaa Altalli is a Syrian activist advocating for a peaceful political transition in her country. She is calling on the international community, particularly the countries that have a military presence in Syria, to enforce an immediate ceasefire. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, vulnerable Syrian citizens are in a dire situation as they confront war, displacement, and the pandemic. Rajaa is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy.

Douce Namwezi - Democratic Republic of the Congo

"Most women working in the informal sector are losing their jobs as borders with Rwanda and Burundi close." Despite struggling economically, Douce Namwezi and women in the DRC are sewing and distributing reusable face masks to protect their community during COVID-19. Douce is an advocate for the UWEZO Africa Initiative, a grassroots organization that aims to improve literacy and numeracy among children aged 6-16 in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Dr. Pallavi Maji - India

According to the World Health Organization, women make up 70% of global healthcare workers. Dr. Pallavi Maji is on the frontlines of #COVID19 as an employee of Tirupati Diagnostic Centre in Burdwan, India. She reports that women are still working to see the end of the crisis.

Lolo F.S. Hailsham - Nigeria

How are women in Nigeria coping with the mental health effects of the pandemic? Although she can no longer offer in-person mental health and substance abuse counseling, Lolo F.S. Hailsham reports that women in her community in Rivers State are supporting one another via social media.

Margaret Taylor - Liberia

"Women in Liberia have taken the lead by producing low-cost, locally-made chloride soap and face masks." Margaret Taylor is a Liberian activist and a partner of the Women Empowerment Network. Margaret reports that many women in Liberia are being forced to “lockdown” at home with their abusers and are unreachable. She recently urged the government and all stakeholders to put women and girls at the center of COVID-19 response, resilience, and recovery efforts in Liberia.