Open Day on Women, Peace and Security: Discussing the needs of women and youth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Open Day was held virtually this year, with the representatives of about 60 civil and community-based organizations working on women's issues, IDP, conflict-affected women and youth taking part in the event. Photo: UN Women
Open Day was held virtually this year, with the representatives of about 60 civil and community-based organizations working on women's issues, IDP, conflict-affected women and youth taking part in the event. Photo: UN Women

For the seventh consecutive year, UN Women in cooperation with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and UN system representatives, organized an Open Day on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Georgia.

Open Day was held virtually this year, with the representatives of about 60 civil and community-based organizations working on women’s issues, IDP, conflict-affected women and youth taking part in the event.

High-ranking UN system officials, participating in the implementation of the WPS agenda in Georgia, also attended the meeting. Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu, UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions, and Sabine Machl, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia, delivered reports within the framework of the Open Day.

This year, Ms. Sultanoğlu noted that strengthening women’s role in peace processes is one of the top priorities of the UN and that ensuring their effective participation is a guarantee to achieve lasting peace. “Especially this year, during an unprecedented crisis, progress of the Women, Peace and Security agenda faced risks of reversal. That is why it is important to intensify the work to bring women at the centre of the peace processes,” she remarked. It should be noted that in May 2019, the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions developed a joint strategy and action plan on WPS, the ultimate goal of which is to achieve the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in this processes.

At the meeting, representatives of women’s civil society organizations, IDPs and conflict-affected women focused on the key problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the following issues were emphasized: the severe conditions in IDP collective centers; the lack of access to primary health care and other basic needs and services; the limited access to the Internet and mobile connections; transportation problems; the lack of medical and food supplies in villages; and generally, the exacerbated socioeconomic situation in IDP and conflict-affected communities in the villages along and beyond the Administrative Boundary Line, especially in the districts of Akhalgori and Gali.

In addition, Ekaterine Gamakharia, representative of the NGO Cultural-Humanitarian Fund “Sukhumi”, stressed the importance of such platforms and the informed participation of women, where not only women’s organizations are given the opportunity to speak but also IDP and conflict-affected women raise their voice and concerns. “Despite the progress made towards this direction, it is essential to achieve the influencing and meaningful participation of women, which remains a challenge. That is why it is crucial to develop a strong and effective reporting mechanism, giving the possibility to develop recommendations beforehand, share with decision makers and then listen to their accounts regarding relevant actions implemented,” she noted.

Eliko Bendeliani, representative of the Center for Peace and Civic Development, spoke about the limited participation of young women in decision-making processes on issues related to peace and security. She highlighted, the need to support youth-led peace initiatives and create flexible mechanisms to increase access of the young people to different opportunities and resources.

At the end of the meeting, Tamar Sabedashvili, UN Women Country Representative in Georgia, a.i., proposed an initiative to thematically group the issues raised at the Open Day and ensure providing a space to discuss similar issues with relevant government officials, to which the participants agreed.

The findings and recommendations from the Open Day inform further advocacy work and technical support of the UN system to national partners - especially to grass-roots, internally displaced and conflict-affected women - in line with the mandates and commitments of the respective UN agencies, programmes, funds and entities under the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and the nationalized Sustainable Development Goals.