Bringing visibility to national and local women’s rights actors
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Bringing visibility to national and local women’s rights actors

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls

During 2019, it has been interesting to hear through the UN system a reference to the Peace, Development and Humanitarian Nexus approach, which a number of us have been communicating – because that is our reality.

Just as climate security does not mean militarisation of responses to climate change, but a greater linkage between the human security pillars including environmental, similarly the term “infrastructures for peace” has been an important reminder of how critical gender-inclusive media and communications are for building and sustaining peaceful communities.

This is particularly so as challenges persist in promoting equality, accessing resources, overcoming harmful gendered norms in order to enable full and meaningful participation of women and girls in decision-making processes and leadership structures.

Media and communication must no longer be regarded as platforms for project or political public relations. There is a vital need to seek out the voice of the most marginalised. A vital role of media and communication platforms is to be the nexus of multi-stakeholder dialogues that bring greater attention to community peacebuilding efforts.

Which is why peace brokers such as member states and the multilateral system, in particular the United Nations cannot afford to ignore community structures and systems including indigenous systems, faith-based systems and women’s leadership including matrilineal systems of leadership and decision making.

Across the Pacific islands, women from the mountainous regions, women with disabilities and rural women living without electricity, women’s human rights defenders and women peacebuilders have made efforts to sustain the peace. Their lives are a reminder of the peace and development continuum and the importance of investment in development priorities such as rural electrification, which affects access to information including media.

Redesigning the table

Maybe it is too easy to perpetuate the status quo when it comes to the peace, security and humanitarian agenda, but it is even more imperative now that we shift the power in decision-making and resource-allocation. When there is greater accountability to the women’s rights agenda, we will see not just more women at the table, but progress towards ensuring equitable, just and gender-sensitive decision-making.

On a personal note, I firmly believe that the next ten years require greater investment in independent feminist and women-led media initiatives, leading from our global south experience, ready to tackle power imbalances and patriarchal structures in peacebuilding, development and humanitarian action. Women cannot simply be the homogenous anecdotal evidence in official reports. We must bring visibility to national and local women’s rights actors and amplify the desired outcomes of women and girls and their communities in all our diversities.

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls is a second-generation Fiji Island feminist working on the intersection of gender, media, communications, and peace by supporting the development and production of appropriate and accessible media. Currently she is the Chairperson and Gender Liaison of the Board of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), the co-chair of Global Fund for Women Board of Directors, and a member of the Feminist Alliance on Rights, coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL). She is also Vice-President of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).

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