“Engaging in the project…has given me as a woman a voice and opportunity to engage with authorities including elders and county officials. Here, a woman’s position was reserved to the kitchen and tending to livestock. I now successfully engage elders and authorities on sustainable use of water and pasture.”
Over the past year, Saferworld worked in northern Kenya where the effects of climate change have exacerbated conflict, as communities compete over scarce pasture and water. We supported dialogue and engagement between communities and county governments, which led to the development of rangeland management and planned grazing policies that set out guidelines on how to access, use and manage shared resources. This successfully reduced the level of conflict between communities.
"We have to accept that climate change is real, and we need to do something about it." - Speaker of Samburu County Assembly during a training on rangeland management, climate change and policy formulation held in Nakuru town.
With 99 per cent of gender-related aid failing to reach them directly, there is a critical need for flexible, core and direct funding for women's rights organisations in places affected by conflict.
Core, flexible and accessible funding recognises the greater knowledge and experience that women’s rights organisations have of their contexts, and enables them to prioritise and respond to what’s needed.
Funded by the UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, our ‘Resourcing Change’ project – in partnership with Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom and Women for Women International – has provided 21 women’s rights organisations in Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen with an average of £35,000 in flexible core funding, with relatively easier requirements and processes. This funding has enabled them to continue responding to their self-identified community needs even when things change unexpectedly, strengthen their organisational capacities to work independently, and allowed them to come together and learn from each other.
The easy availability of arms can fuel, prolong and intensify conflict, with devastating consequences for people’s lives. We work to strengthen national, regional and international controls on the global transfer of arms.
One of our biggest successes is the crucial role that we played in developing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and bringing it into force. When the Treaty was finally passed into law in 2014, the achievement was the culmination of over 20 years’ work by Saferworld and other peacebuilding organisations. The Treaty was the first global treaty to regulate international arms trade, with the purpose of reducing suffering and loss of life caused by illegal and irresponsible arms transfers. It aims to improve security and stability, and to contribute to international and regional peace.
With the Treaty in place, we are working hard to ensure it is properly implemented. We provide critical, analytical, legal and technical support to countries as they develop and implement the laws and regulations needed to comply with their ATT commitments. Our technical expertise and advocacy work are complemented by the efforts of our international partner organisations.
Over the past year, we have continued to influence and mobilise public and political opinion to ensure the Treaty is applied effectively by as many states as possible. We played a leading role in helping to deliver consistent and coherent civil society engagement in the formal ATT process, helping to ensure that the role of civil society remains relevant and respected in this arena. In partnership with the Emergent Justice Collective and the International Commission of Jurists, we developed the Arms Trade Litigation Monitor (ATLM) website, which documents, monitors and analyses legal proceedings related to the international arms trade into Yemen.
“They were telling us that the village leaders have not been able to resolve the conflict for almost 15 years. They asked, ‘how can you, as a group of young university graduates resolve the conflict?’ We had to show and prove to them that women have a role in conflict mediation.”
Together with the National Organisation for Community Development (NODS), we worked with communities in Taiz, Yemen, to end a 30-year-long conflict over the distribution of water from a community well. After the conflict between the villages of al-Shaab and al-Adouf escalated in 2011, tensions reached boiling point when violence erupted and residents began destroying a 7,200-metre water pipe network connected to the well. Countless litres of water were wasted and communities were left without easy access to water for more than eight years.
To resolve the conflict, ten women from the Sabr al-Mawadem community action group devised a plan. They held initial discussions with local leaders and authorities, liaised with technical experts to clean and fix the water source, and set up a ‘support committee’ to mediate between the leaders of al-Shaab and al-Adouf villages. They also organised wider community dialogues to ease tensions between residents, and met with sheiks from local mosques to raise awareness of the issue at Friday prayer sermons.
Mediation talks continued over the course of ten months. In October 2020, a settlement was reached which allowed the water to flow evenly between al-Shaab and al-Adouf villages.
“I used to have a negative perception of a Kyrgyzstani who converted to other religions. I have a Baptist neighbour who I disliked and tried to avoid. After participating in the discussion, I learnt that everyone has the right to choose their religion and that we need to respect the opinions of others.”
Many people in Kyrgyzstan have different visions of the country’s future and the role religion plays in its identity. Some see Islam – practised by around 90 per cent of the population – as central, while others wish for a more secular society. This has led to tensions between secular and religious groups, state institutions and between people of different faiths who make up a small minority.
As part of our project in Kyrgyzstan, in 2021 Saferworld awarded Mutakalim 98,000 KES (US 1,200) for an initiative to improve awareness of religious diversity and build tolerance among people in their communities. “We are the only women-led organisation in Central Asia that protects the rights of religious women. We’ve been working on religious tolerance for over 20 years,” said Amina Usenalieva, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Public Union Mutakalim.
Mutakalim developed three activities to promote religious tolerance. First they held live streams through social media for 30 days, with themes relating to peacebuilding or religious tolerance. And then they held two Zoom conferences for imams in the north and south of Kyrgyzstan. Lastly, they held a training course for women religious leaders, including directors and teachers of madrassahs [Islamic formal schools]. “In these spaces, we focused on peacebuilding and the importance of tolerance from the perspective of Islam,” said Amina.
“Early marriage has been rampant in our community and it has been there in our culture, but now we need to discourage it, because it burdens women most with responsibility.”
Saferworld has been working in South Sudan since 2008. We work with partners and communities to identify and address safety and peacebuilding needs that are specific to each community. One of the issues we work on is eradicating child and early marriages, which often take place for financial reasons.
When a community action group, set up by Saferworld in Aweil East, heard about an attempted child marriage in their town, they brought community members together to prevent it from happening.
The group held a meeting with the child bride’s family to discuss the problem and emphasise the harmful effects of child marriage. They stressed the impact of early marriage on her education and her future. As a result, her father agreed to reverse his decision, preventing the marriage from taking place.
By leaving a gift to Saferworld in your will, you can continue to make a difference for years to come. Your kind gift will be an enduring, meaningful legacy - helping people to live free from violent conflict, helping communities to build lasting peace, helping to create a safer world.
Your legacy donation will make a significant difference to people’s lives and could fund amazing projects like these.
To find out more about how you can leave a gift to Saferworld in your will, please visit our legacies page.