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GAPS Newsletter: March 2024

Welcome to GAPS March wrap up.

March 2024 marks one year of implementation for the National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security. To recognise this, GAPS has developed an assessment of UK Government progress on WPS in 2023. This report, informed by four case studies co-created by women’s rights organisations (WROs), women human rights activists and GAPS member organisations, considers the progress and learnings for the UK Government to take forward into the proceeding years of NAP implementation. GAPS’s report can now be read on our website here. The APPG-WPS and GAPS held an Oral Report to Parliament where GAPS director, Eva Tabbasam, spoke to the report. This event, with speakers from the MoD and FCDO, provided an opportunity for discussion between Parliamentarians, civil society and beyond.  

March 8 was International Women’s Day, a day giving focus to gender equality, peace and justice. Whilst this day celebrates the achievements of women and girls internationally, there is an ongoing genocide in Gaza where Palestinian women and girls continue to be denied access to healthcare, endure forced displacement and sexual violence, amongst other human rights violations. For international solidarity movements speaking out on this violence, they are met with heightened policing and securitisation, and the States that are championed as ‘upholders of human rights’ are the very force driving such restrictions. GAPS hosted a side event in the margins of IWD and CSW,  “Palestine as a Feminist Issue: a conversation on women, peace and security” on 12 March, with WILPF UK, Madre and Oxfam GB. Our speakers included Bushra Khalidi from Oxfam; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin from Queens University, School of Law, Laura Varella from WILPF and Maram Zatara from WLCAC. Our speakers highlighted the impact of the genocide on Palestinian women and girls and how Western state responses have been rooted in hypocrisy. This event aimed to reidentify the progressive origins of the WPS agenda and consider how it can be best applied to push for an end to the occupation. Stay tuned for the recording of this event on our upcoming podcast episode, which will be released on Spotify and Apple Music. 

GAPS hosted a Feminist? Foreign Policy event on 7 March that discussed the progress of FFP frameworks globally through topics such as migration and disarmament.  This event was born out of our beyond Feminist Foreign Policy Briefing Series, in partnership with GAPS membership organisations, and brought together diverse feminist voices, including Ana Velasco, Research Associate at the University of Bremen and co-founder of Internacional Feminista; Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will at WILPF; and Chiara Capraro, Gender Justice Programme Director at Amnesty UK. We hope that this event offered a space to reflect on the avenues in which gender rights facing rollbacks in the presence of rising authoritarianism and whether FFP can be a mechanism to either help or hinder this restrictive environment.  

With this month marking International Women’s Day, we must ask ourselves which identities are truly considered on days such as this, and how we can advance more inclusive and transformative anti-patriarchal alternatives of gender, peace and security. 

March Reads

A Women’s Vision

This report has been released as part of Women’s Spaces’ project marking UNSCR 1325 at 30. A Women’s Vision was developed by asking women of all backgrounds in Northern Ireland (NI) what NI would look like, if it worked for women – and the same priorities came up everywhere, which were all about women having a voice in decision making, policies that meet women’s needs, and accessible services as a basis for a society that actually works. Read the full report here.

The Challenges Facing Afghans with Disabilities

In Afghanistan, obtaining accurate data on the number of persons with disabilities — including gender-disaggregated information — has always been a challenging endeavor. But based on the data we do have, it’s clear that more than four decades of violent conflict have left a considerable portion of the Afghan population grappling with various forms of disabilities, both war-related and otherwise. And the pervasive lack of protective mechanisms, social awareness and empathy surrounding disability continue to pose formidable challenges for individuals with disabilities, with women being disproportionately affected. Read the full article here. 

Progress with the merger of the FCO and DFID

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has made substantial progress with the merger that created it, although more work is needed to resolve outstanding HR and IT issues, clarify capability needs and progress culture change, according to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report. In June 2020, government announced that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID) would merge into FCDO. This was intended to increase the UK’s impact overseas through combining development and diplomacy efforts. Read the full report here. 

‘Humanitarian crisis’ is a euphemism that covers up and shields those responsible

Does describing the situation in Gaza as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ obscure the lived reality? The New Humanitarian’s Patrick Gathara asked this question in a column last year, and it was on David Jefferess mind as the feeds on his social media platforms began to fill with sponsored posts  appealing for donations from humanitarian organisations during the so-called ‘giving season’ in December. Read the full article here. 

In case you missed it

For International Women’s Day, GAPS, as part of a coalition of humanitarian agencies, carried out a demonstration on Millennium Bridge calling for a ceasefire. This demonstration was reported in The Guardian here.

Appeal from Palestinian Women to Women All Around the World: WCLAC calls for a ceasefire in Gaza on International Women’s Day. ‘We reaffirm our demands and eagerly anticipate substantial measures on the eighth of March to exert significant pressure to end the military assault and attacks on Gaza and the West Bank.” Read the full statement here.

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, released her report following her visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on 4 March. Please find GAPS’s full response here.

Women’s Spaces is an innovative programme strengthening women’s capacity to take their rightful place as leaders in society. They have now released the website associated with this three-year programme designed to begin changing long standing challenges for women in Northern Ireland, such as being sidelined from peacebuilding. Visit their website here.

Job Board

Women for Women International

Corporate Partnerships Development Manager (London), 2 April.

International Alert

Head of Communications and Media (London), 1 April.
Senior Digital Communications Officer (London), 3 April.

Conciliation Resources
Programme Support Officer (London), 5 April.

International Rescue Committee
Project Manager, Content and Creative Studio (London), 2 April.

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