Frauen in




It is both common sense and a human right that women and men must be involved in decision-making processes in equal measure. Yet when it comes to polit­ical partic­i­pa­tion, women are under-repre­sented in every domain. In early 2019, only 19 of all heads of state were women. World­wide, women accounted for a mere fifth of cabinet minis­ters and 24.3% of parlia­men­tary seats.

To change that the Federal Foreign Office supports projects in these key areas:

Empow­ering women
in peace processes


Jointly strength­ening the role of women in peace processes and conflict preven­tion

Project partner
Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF)

The protracted conflict in Iraq with the Islamic State terrorist organ­i­sa­tion has forced more than six million people to flee their homes since 2014. More than half of the displaced popula­tion – about 51 percent – are women and girls. As a result of the conflict, women and girls have been subjected to gross human rights abuses, including abduc­tions, killings, trafficking, torture, forced marriage, and sexual and gender-based violence.

Despite govern­ment and other stake­holder efforts to address the country’s dire challenges, the rights of Iraqi women and girls continue to deteri­o­rate because of serious insti­tu­tional weaknesses and a diffi­cult environ­ment for peace, security and devel­op­ment. As extremist groups expand their influ­ence, their terri­to­rial advances are paral­leled by targeted attacks on women’s rights and basic freedoms – including their ability to move freely and engage in public life. This reality is compounded by entrenched struc­tural discrim­i­na­tion in Iraq, where the situa­tion of women is largely shaped by male religious author­i­ties and the strict imple­men­ta­tion of Islamic law.

Iraqi civil society organ­i­sa­tions (CSOs) working on gender issues and human­i­tarian inter­ven­tions are reacting vigor­ously to the country’s wide range of peace and security challenges. Recog­nising that peace and security cannot be realised without the partic­i­pa­tion of women in peace­building and conflict resolu­tion, local CSOs in Iraq have formed the Alliance 1325, the aim of which is to broker the needs of women and girls and foster their imple­men­ta­tion.

In Iraq, the Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF) specif­i­cally focuses on two issues:

  • Improving support for women CSOs to build upon existing strate­gies in order to create an enabling environ­ment for the effec­tive imple­men­ta­tion of govern­ment commit­ments on women, peace and security;
  • • Supporting local organ­i­sa­tions fighting for displaced women and supporting women returnees.

Since November 2018, the WPHF has been supporting eight projects promoting the involve­ment of women in conflict preven­tion and peace­building. Most of these projects pursue a compre­hen­sive approach by strength­ening the nexus between peace and security, devel­op­ment and human rights, empow­ering women and girls as peace­makers and peace­builders to promote peaceful coexis­tence and dialogue and thereby prevent extremism and violence, including gender-based violence. Collab­o­ra­tion with CSOs is placed at the fore here. The projects include training measures for women journal­ists, women’s organ­i­sa­tions and govern­mental actors on conflict preven­tion and early warning systems, as well as efforts in raising aware­ness of peace­building in commu­ni­ties.

Germany is one of the largest funders of the Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund, contributing a total of € 4 million since 2019. As a member of the Funding Board, Germany, along with other Member States, UN agencies and civil society organ­i­sa­tions, selects the projects to be funded.

Source: https://​wphfund​.org/​c​o​u​n​t​r​i​e​s​/​i​r​aq/


Encour­aging partic­i­pa­tion of women and diver­sity in the Colom­bian peace process

Project partner
Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF)

The Colom­bian peace process is the latest and most successful attempt to put an end to an armed conflict that has lasted more than 50 years. The agree­ment reached between the Colom­bian Govern­ment and the FARC-EP in 2016 offers a unique oppor­tu­nity to end the war and to reduce the high levels of violence associ­ated with the conflict, including sexual and gender-based violence.

Colombia’s conflict dispro­por­tion­ately affected women and girls, who account for the majority of the more than 6 million victims. The protracted conflict has resulted in a dire human­i­tarian situa­tion having devas­tating conse­quences on women, including displace­ment, homicide, threats, sexual violence and forced disap­pear­ances.

he peace agree­ment has brought hope with its specific provi­sions on truth, justice and repara­tion. The final text also has a very ambitious agenda in areas such as rural devel­op­ment and polit­ical partic­i­pa­tion that remain critical to overcome struc­tural levels of poverty and inequality.

The Germany-funded Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF) is promoting syner­gies between the different peace­building inter­ven­tions and increasing cooper­a­tion between the govern­ment, civil society organ­i­sa­tions and multi­lat­eral and bilat­eral entities.

Women’s civil society organ­i­sa­tions in Colombia are highly diverse and are built around agendas and processes of commu­ni­tarian empow­er­ment, the recon­struc­tion of social ties, terri­to­rial defence and the protec­tion and enforce­ment of rights in the context of armed conflict. Colombia’s civil society organ­i­sa­tions also focus heavily on gender equality issues related to devel­op­ment, democ­racy and multi­cul­tur­alism.

In Colombia, the WPHF focuses on:

  • Empow­ering local women’s civil society organ­i­sa­tions and enabling local women to hold a substan­tial role in recovery and transi­tion efforts to foster more resilient commu­ni­ties capable of responding and overcoming crisis.
  • Supporting areas partic­u­larly affected by repeated emergen­cies in which indige­nous and afro-descen­dant women live and the integra­tion of these women’s voices in local peace­building initia­tives

Since 2016 WPHF partner organ­i­sa­tions have supported 7848 women and girls in Colombia.

Germany is one of the largest funders of the Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund, contributing a total of € 4 million since 2019. As a member of the Funding Board, Germany, along with other Member States, UN agencies and civil society organ­i­sa­tions, selects the projects to be funded.

Source: https://​wphfund​.org/​c​o​u​n​t​r​i​e​s​/​c​o​l​o​m​b​ia/

Supporting women activists

Supporting women activists


Protec­tion for female human-rights defenders and peace activists under acute threat

To stand up for human rights, speak out against warlords and corrup­tion or push for an end to violence and discrim­i­na­tion is, often, to live danger­ously. Woman in Afghanistan working for human rights and peace are partic­u­larly at risk. When a peace activist or human-rights defender and her family find themselves under pressure, they often need to act quickly.

This is what the refuge was set up for. Women engaged in human-rights and peace activism across Afghanistan have been finding shelter and support for themselves and their children here since 2015. As soon as an acute threat arises, the activists can be evacu­ated from all over the country. The refuge provides safe and secret tempo­rary accom­mo­da­tion for around 50 human-rights defenders and peace activists and their children until the security situa­tion permits them to return to their homes. The women can also access psycho­log­ical and medical care as well as legal advice.

If an activist finds herself under threat, she can contact the refuge via a 24-hour hotline to discuss what to do next. The hotline also serves to document the threat­ening situa­tions confronting women peace activists and human-rights defenders in Afghanistan. In discus­sions with govern­ment and media repre­sen­ta­tives, the organ­i­sa­tion which runs the refuge raises aware­ness of what things are like for women defending human rights and promoting peace.

Germany has been supporting the work of the refuge since June 2020.


Shanti Mohila: “Peace women” for justice

Project partner
Legal Action World­wide (LAW)

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority who live in western Myanmar, on the border to Bangladesh. Under Myanmar’s laws on citizen­ship, Rohingya are usually not recog­nised as citizens. In 2017, as a result of large-scale military opera­tions, 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh, where they are now living in refugee camps in the most diffi­cult of condi­tions. The Fact-Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council accuses Myanmar’s military of gross human-rights viola­tions and calls for high-ranking military personnel to face criminal prose­cu­tion. In 2018, the Inter­na­tional Criminal Court declared that it had juris­dic­tion over the alleged depor­ta­tion of the Rohingya people.

In this context, the organ­i­sa­tion Legal Action World­wide – LAW for short – is running this project to support the Rohingya human-rights defenders who have formed the Shanti Mohila (“peace women”) network in the Kutupa­long refugee camp in Bangladesh. Over the course of twelve months, it will provide fifteen members of Shanti Mohila with training in human and women’s rights. LAW will aid the women in drawing up and imple­menting a strategy by which they can better advocate for their commu­nity on impor­tant human-rights issues.

The project provides assis­tance to the women in speaking out for themselves and ensuring that their voices are heard. It boosts Shanti Mohila’s ability to function as a grass­roots human-rights group, helping it to organise itself, commu­ni­cate its demands both within the commu­nity and inter­na­tion­ally, and effec­tively build ties to other human-rights activists in Bangladesh, in Myanmar and across the globe.

COVID 19 repre­sents an enormous challenge for the women. Partic­u­larly in refugee camps, there is major concern about the possi­bility of the disease spreading out of control. Due to coron­avirus, there are no pictures avail­able of the current project yet; the following pictures are from a similar LAW project.


Women media­tors advancing peace by empow­ering women econom­i­cally

Project partner
Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF)

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Almost one in four of its inhab­i­tants are living below the poverty line. The country’s economic plight, the tense security situa­tion and growing numbers of extreme weather events caused by climate change regularly result in human­i­tarian emergen­cies, refugee movements and internal displace­ment.

That is why the Women’s Peace & Human­i­tarian Fund, with financing from Germany, has since 2015 supported a network of women who success­fully mediate to prevent violence at a local level. For example, the network can help avert the eruption of worse tensions, combat false rumours and reduce the impact of the polit­ical crisis on the general public. The network’s members also support local consul­ta­tions and strategy processes in order to enhance munic­ipal security. The network’s members also support local consul­ta­tions and strategy processes in order to enhance munic­ipal security. One outcome of these dialogues has been the media­tors’ reali­sa­tion that economic initia­tives are an impor­tant compo­nent of measures to build and maintain peace.

“We discov­ered that peace­building is possible on the basis of women’s economic empow­er­ment,” says Concessa, the Coordi­nator of the organ­i­sa­tion Afrabu, on the link between devel­op­ment and peace­building. A case study from the Kanyosha area demon­strates the point: through one project, a group of women and girls who were not previ­ously organ­ised or polit­i­cally engaged gained access to training and micro­fi­nance. The interest payments go to fund new loans to other women. In the course of the project, the women meet regularly to discuss problems in their commu­ni­ties and figure out ways to resolve local disagree­ments and prevent conflict.

In 2019, over 1,000 income-gener­ating activ­i­ties were conducted under the auspices of the project; almost 8,000 people, 94 percent of them women, directly benefited from the measures; more than 40,000 house­holds were reached indirectly.

Germany is one of the largest funders of the Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund, contributing a total of € 4 million since 2019. As a member of the Funding Board, Germany, along with other Member States, UN agencies and civil society organ­i­sa­tions, selects the projects to be funded.

Burundi, Jordan, Columbia, Pacific

In her own words: Women talk about their work in peace activism

Project partner
Women’s Peace and Human­i­tarian Fund (WPHF)

The work involved in peace­building processes is frequently hard and frustrating. Commu­nity media­tors, advisors in medical centres, peace activists – these women often operate between the front­lines, experi­encing human-rights viola­tions at close quarters. They are an irritant and face criti­cism and violence for what they do. At the same time, they help people in situa­tions of severe crisis, play a role in the resolu­tion of conflicts and contribute to recon­cil­i­a­tion after crises. What makes them do it? What successes do they see, and where do they find challenges? Four activists working in very different areas give us an insight here into what motivates them.

All of them are supported by the Women’s Peace & Human­i­tarian Fund. The WPHF is an innov­a­tive partner­ship of UN entities, countries and civil society empow­ering local women to be a force for crisis response and lasting peace.

It supports the efforts of women working in the midst of the world’s most intractable conflicts. From Jordan to Burundi and from Fiji to Colombia, the WPHF ampli­fies the voices of women and supports their work to prevent conflict, respond to crises and accel­erate peace in their commu­ni­ties. Germany is a member of the Funding Board and has provided four million euro to support the WPHF since 2019.

Source: https://​wphfund​.org/

“I feel the defence of our rights in my blood and in my heart. For me, it is a commit­ment and a volun­tary job that I hold in my heart – one that I love and can share with other women. This is what we have done through the Women’s Network.

For many women, including myself, it was a time of fear when the FARC (Revolu­tionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was created.

We started famil­iarising ourselves with the subject, helping women to acknowl­edge their own civil rights and under­stand the path that every woman must follow to have her rights respected. It is impor­tant for women to make their own decisions and to band together to repre­sent both women and men in democ­ratic insti­tu­tions.”

Maria Ximena is the leader and co-founder of Red de Mujeres Chapar­ralunas por la Paz, the Chaparral Women’s Network for Peace. She is an indige­nous member of Colombia’s Pijao people from the commu­nity of Matora de Maito.

The network aims to ensure women’s meaningful partic­i­pa­tion in polit­ical decision-making and their full enjoy­ment of rights as Colom­bian citizens.

"Through my work I can see how much I’ve helped people. I want to inspire other women and let them know they can do the same. I want to inspire other women and let them know they can do the same.

I have been with the Family and Child­hood Protec­tion Society since 2007, working to empower women, train young people and rehabil­i­tate women refugees. I have worked on several cases that have impacted the lives of women and children.

I have faced the usual stereo­types in this field: that because I am a woman I shouldn’t be doing this kind of work. But I do it because I am a woman and I am just as capable.”

Shereen, 43, works for the Family and Child­hood Protec­tion Society, a civil-society organ­i­sa­tion in Irbid, Jordan.

“We all lost so much in the crisis… I started this work because I wanted my children to live a better life, to overcome my own pain, and be useful for my commu­nity. Peace is for everyone.

It is up to everyone to build peace. When we start engaging women in conflict trans­for­ma­tion, we start by asking them to analyse the problem, under­stand the root cause, so that they can see beyond the manifes­ta­tion of the problem. Whether it is polit­ical violence or domestic violence, we teach them to ask, why is this happening?”

Marie-Goretti, 55, is the Execu­tive Director of Dushire­hamwe, which means “let’s be together for peace”. The network works to enhance women’s leader­ship in peace­building and conflict resolu­tion in Burundi.

“People need counsel­lors to help with the issues they have in life. A counsellor can help women learn positive ways to respond to their issues. Abuse is a big problem, especially during a disaster. Women see counselling as a safe and confi­den­tial place, which they need because of physical and emotional abuse.

When people are living in emergency centres, there is no privacy and also too much time. Parents need to be aware of poten­tial sexual abuse in the centres, and child protec­tion is a big need. I have seen the need in the commu­nity – this work must go on.”

Jacinta works as an advisor for Medical Services Pacific (MSP) in Fiji. MSP’s new one-stop shop in Labasa offers female survivors of violence free clinical services, advice, legal support and emergency tempo­rary accom­mo­da­tion.

Networking women

All countries in Africa

Strong women for polit­ical and social change in Africa

Project partner
African Women Leaders Network (AWLN)

Starke Frauen für politischen und sozialen Wandel in Afrika

The African Women Leaders Network or AWLN strengthens the role of women in the polit­ical, economic and social shaping of Africa. It works throughout Africa and has a presence in every African country thanks to its network of national chapters. It works throughout Africa and has a presence in every African country thanks to its network of national chapters.

The COVID 19 pandemic has affected almost all the countries in the world. SARS CoV 2 is a disease that can strike anyone, whatever their origins, age, sex or national or ethnic identity. The social, economic and human rights-related ramifi­ca­tions of the pandemic, however, vary greatly between different sections of society. Women, since they tend to be econom­i­cally worse off to begin with, are more adversely affected by the pandemic’s economic conse­quences. They are exposed to rising levels of domestic violence as a result of lockdowns and suffer from reduced access to sexual- and repro­duc­tive-health services. Girls are more likely than boys to be taken out of school for reasons of economic distress. Among members of polit­ical and health­care bodies, women are outnum­bered by men.

In such circum­stances, it is impor­tant to defend the gains previ­ously achieved in women’s rights. It is also vital, however, to confront the present challenges by embracing innova­tion and change. There is oppor­tu­nity inherent in such upheaval, as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under­lined in May of this year: “Now is the time to recog­nise that devel­op­mental trans­for­ma­tion and true peace cannot come without funda­mental change in who is leading and the ways of leading.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is part of the African Women Leaders Network, which was founded by the African Union and UN Women in 2017 with German support. The network now comprises more than 500 women. Its objec­tive is to support the role of women in the trans­for­ma­tion of Africa in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustain­able Devel­op­ment. The network’s activ­i­ties focus on six key pillars: gover­nance and polit­ical partic­i­pa­tion, peace and security, finance and women’s entre­pre­neur­ship, youth leader­ship, agricul­ture and social mobil­i­sa­tion.

As part of the network, women, including young women, are demanding access to processes of peace­building and politics in order to advance the imple­men­ta­tion of the resolu­tion on women, peace and security in Africa. With chapters in each country of Africa, the network is repre­sented not only in regional processes but also nation­ally and locally. Germany has supported the African Women Leaders Network at the regional level since it was founded and supports individual national chapters in their work relating to peace­building and human rights. Apart from funding projects, this involves dialogue and collab­o­ra­tion with activists, such as when Federal Foreign Minister Maas visited Sierra Leone in early 2019 or more recently in Mali, when Germany invited repre­sen­ta­tives of the African Women Leaders Network to take part in a discus­sion on Mali’s future.


Women coming together to help Burundi out of crisis

Project partner
African Women Leaders Network (AWLN)

There have always been women actively committed, as human-rights defenders and peace activists, to stabil­ising the situa­tion in Burundi. Their dedica­tion repre­sents a major oppor­tu­nity for the advance­ment of peace and stability. But they are also taking a great risk, as starkly demon­strated by the reports of female activists being kidnapped and disap­peared.

The work of UN Women in Burundi highlights both these elements: support and protec­tion. Building on their work to date, this project supports the devel­op­ment of a women’s movement to build peace, enhance social cohesion and prevent conflict in Burundi. At its heart is a network of women mediating for peace which is pushing for peace­building in Burundi with a gender perspec­tive. Dialogue with women activists from other African countries is assured through the African Women Leaders Network. So far, 250 women have taken part in courses on gover­nance and peace­building.

An impor­tant additional task the project has is to share knowl­edge about measures to prevent COVID-19 and combat its negative reper­cus­sions for gender equality and repro­duc­tive health. Some 800 women and 140 young dissem­i­na­tors have received this training to date.