VOAW set a first step into the international development sector by implementing a project in Afghanistan between 2018 and 2020, named Key Agents for Peace.
The project aims to address the issue of violent extremism in Libya and Afghanistan, considering it to be a major obstacle to women, peace and security and to inclusive political participation. To counter this issue, youth were empowered to promote non-violent political and religious narratives which are compatible with human rights and women’s rights.
The consortium for this project consists of Gender Concerns International and Stichting Voice of Afghan Women (previous name of Voice of All Women foundation), with VOAW implementing in Afghanistan.
It has been deftly noted that despite high international ambitions and joint efforts of civil society and governments to promote gender-sensitive norms for the peacebuilding agenda within the framework of UNSCR 1325, the situation of women in conflict areas has unfortunately barely improved, and in some cases even deteriorated. The resilience of women and women’s organisations in these circumstances has shown admirable strength that deserves the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in its true spirit and with a full commitment.
Within this context, this project aims to complement existing initiatives under the Dutch NAP 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in order to address the issue of violent extremism, targeting neglected groups (especially youth, but also religious leaders, men, and boys) as a missing link for sustainable peace considering the greater influence that these groups have on the adverse situation of women in conflict and post-conflict areas.
The project focuses on youth as its primary target group. All activities aim to build capacity and empower a small (10-15 persons) selected group of mature youth (age 20-30 years, minimum 50% female), hereinafter referred to as “change-makers”.
he project methodology includes three components in each focus country:
The change-makers are provided with both the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfil their potential to enact change and promote non-violent political and religious narratives, which are compatible with human rights and women’s rights in order to prevent violent extremism, both within this project and after its completion.
Meetings are facilitated between the change-makers and key stakeholders and influential actors. This provides the change-makers with an opportunity to promote the developed non-violent and human rights compatible political and religious narratives, with the important aim to make important allies and build networks that will contribute to broader human rights movements..
Change-makers spread the developed non-violent and human rights compatible political and religious narratives to a broader audience through public awareness raising campaigns.
The project includes the secondary target groups:
- Religious Leaders, Political Decision-makers, Civil Society and Women’s Organizations, as the direct target groups of dialogue meetings, and important potential allies within broader networks and human rights movements.
2. Broader General Public, as a direct target group of Awareness-Raising Campaigns. Support from the broader public is a condition for sustainable action to counter violent extremism through spreading a non-violent political and religious discourse, which is compatible with human’s rights and women’s rights.