Global Policies, Local Action: Implementation of the Youth, Peace & Security agenda
July 5, 2021 by Wevyn Muganda
I feel seen. I feel heard. I feel valued.
Every time someone asks me about my fellowship experience with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), this is my first response. This is by no means a hyperbole. I will tell you why.
I have been a grassroots activist for the past four years. I started working in my community in Mombasa, Kenya, educating and organizing my peers long before I knew what the Sustainable Development Goals were, or what the United Nations truly does. The first time I heard about the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 was at a global conference where I was invited to share my experiences running youth programs on the prevention of violent extremism. While it came as a surprise, it is not a unique experience for many grassroot activists like myself.
We are doing the work in local communities, preventing violence, advocating for the promotion of rights, creating spaces for young people to engage amongst themselves, and with other stakeholders, but we do not realize that we are contributing to the global Youth, Peace and Security agenda.
Does that make us less effective peacebuilders?
It has been six months since I started my fellowship. On an average day, some of the activities I engage in include creating spaces for engagement and capacity-building for our Young Women Leaders program; reviewing and analyzing global policies on peace and security; co-creating advocacy campaigns; and, interacting with decision-makers at the global level. An average day is very hard to come by at GNWP because every day is a day to be of service and fulfill our commitments to local women and youth peacebuilders. On a good day, in addition to the above mentioned, I will be sharing my aspirations for my community and country and learning from Ms Cora Weiss, a long time peace activist, organizing intergenerational dialogue with peacebuilders from across the world, and sharing memes in our Slack “fun” channel. Every day, I have the opportunity to advocate for the security and safety of women and youth, build my understanding of global decision-making processes, and amplify the voices of many other youth and women peacebuilders doing incredibly inspiring work.
Understanding how global decisions are made has enabled me to think differently and design my initiatives in my town with the bigger picture in mind. I am learning how to communicate my community’s needs and strategically align the priorities to those of the decision-makers. Most importantly, I believe strongly that my participation is not a favour, it is my right. My experience is valid and is critical to the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda. Global action must match the realities of local women and youth. This is only possible through the inclusive participation of local women and young people, through their leaders and the work they do.
The Youth, Peace and Security agenda has the potential to transform the lives of young people, only if they are included. When we think global, we think grand. Yet, the biggest change happens at the individual level. We want to inspire the masses, so we create global plans and policies that many people cannot relate to. We have to remember that youth are people before we are beneficiaries of projects. At the global level, the Youth, Peace and Security agenda can be broadly described through the five pillars - Participation, Protection, Prevention, Partnerships, Disengagement and Reintegration. If you ask me how the successful implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda looks like, I will say: it is when every young person feels seen, heard and valued.
About the author:
Wevyn Muganda is a human rights activist from Mombasa, Kenya and the Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. She recently initiated ISIRIKA, a grassroot based initiative that focuses on enhancing community care through social activities, community education and organizing action on the most urgent challenges in local communities at the grassroots in Mombasa, Kenya.