Theme: Social peace and local development

Integrating Gender into community-level peacebuilding: Lessons from Libya

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives in more than 40 Libyan municipalities. This report captures our experience and lessons learned from nearly 10 years of integrating gender into our programme. Key lessons include: 

  • Using a gender lens to analyse conflict was key to increasing community understanding of why women’s agency in local peace and conflict should not be underestimated 
  • Understanding interests and needs of diverse groups of women helped to offer relevant incentives for them to engage in local peacebuilding activities 
  • Working with men on their attitudes and behaviours and identifying ‘male allies’ helped to create a safer space for women to participate 
  • Funding and opportunities for women to strengthen their leadership skills and implement their own initiatives represented an important tool to deepen women’s participation 
  • Safely raising the visibility of women peace leaders helped shift social perceptions towards women and their role in peace and decision making 

Download the full report

Find out more about the Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme

COVID-19 and Gender in Libya Assessment

Peaceful Change initiative has released the COVID-19 and Gender in Libya Assessment to support their gender-focused activities to be initiated within the Social Peace and Local Development Libya programme. The Assessment is focused on six communities, Ajdabiya, Bani Walid, Sabha, Tobruq, Ubari and Zliten and research was carried out in the following four areas:

  • Socio-economic impact
  • Gender roles and women’s leadership
  • Gender based violence
  • Conflict, peace and security

To view the Assessment and recommendations click here.

Integrating Gender into community-level peacebuilding: Lessons from Libya

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives in more than 40 Libyan municipalities. This report captures our experience and lessons learned from nearly 10 years of integrating gender into our programme. Key lessons include: 

  • Using a gender lens to analyse conflict was key to increasing community understanding of why women’s agency in local peace and conflict should not be underestimated 
  • Understanding interests and needs of diverse groups of women helped to offer relevant incentives for them to engage in local peacebuilding activities 
  • Working with men on their attitudes and behaviours and identifying ‘male allies’ helped to create a safer space for women to participate 
  • Funding and opportunities for women to strengthen their leadership skills and implement their own initiatives represented an important tool to deepen women’s participation 
  • Safely raising the visibility of women peace leaders helped shift social perceptions towards women and their role in peace and decision making 

Download the full report

Find out more about the Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme

Empowering Libya’s women and youth through livelihood opportunities

After years of protracted war across the country, Libya’s economic recovery requires significant support and intervention at the national, regional, and local level.

Supporting Community Resilience Through Livelihood Opportunities for Libya’s Women and Youth outlines the impact of the Peaceful Change initiative Livelihood Project, launched in November 2021, targeting six cities in the East, West and South of the country: Tobruq, Ajdabiya, Bani Walid, Obari, Zliten and Sebha, with a focus on:

  • Livelihood training courses to support vocational and professional skills
  • Job fairs bringing together local businesses, employers, trainees, and other relevant authorities
  • Targeted grants to support local entrepreneurs willing to develop or expand their business ideas

The background to the project was a Peaceful Change initiative Assessment, carried out in late 2020, that explored the impact of conflict, displacement and the pandemic – and found that economic recovery and specifically livelihoods, have been increasingly threatened due to economic and political instability. The Assessment highlighted that young men are more incentivised to join a militia and/or radicalisation, as well as get involved in illicit activities, such as trafficking and smuggling, with limited livelihood opportunities. In addition, that conflict and the pandemic had increased the risk of women becoming marginalised – and increased some women’s exposure to higher levels of gender-based violence.

Peaceful Change initiative also conducted a Research Project in 2021, to better understand the impact of the conflict economy, highlighting that while local communities cannot fully insulate themselves from national dynamics, the impact of the local conflict economy can be mitigated through strengthening local cohesion and stability and developing local economic opportunities.

Supporting community peace resources in Syria

PCi is providing support to community peace resources – those individuals and organisations involved in local initiatives to prevent, manage and resolve conflict. The first task of this work was to map such peace resources; this was done in March 2014. PCi captured learning from this research and outlined an agenda for supporting the development and strengthening of community-level resources for peace in Syria.

Download the report in English

Download the report in Arabic

Libya: Social Peace and Local Development handbook

A cross-government working group on Social Peace and Local Development, hosted by the Ministry of Local Government, has been working since May 2013 to identify how local government and community leaders can promote social peace, in terms of both ‘how’ they work together, and ‘what’ services and development projects they should support. The result is a handbook intended as a guide for local government bodies and community leaders on working in partnership to promote social peace and development in Libya. It does this by outlining a six-step process, with practical tools for each step.

Download the handbook in English

Download the handbook in Arabic

Founding member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership becomes first woman in Libya to hold the position of Mukhtar al-Mahalla (Head of Locality)

Sumaya Abushagour, a civil society activist and founding member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership (established in 2017) became passionate about working with marginalised groups (such as women, youth and people living with disability), when employed by the Ministry of Education and the Tripoli Centre Municipality, Social Affairs Unit. As a member of the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership, Sumaya further developed her valuable network of contacts – and benefitted from the mentoring and skills training provided in Social Peace and Local Development (with support from PCi) that added to her experience and encouraged her to continue to support women, youth and people living with disability in the community. She was recently appointed to the position of Mukhtar al Mahalla (Head of Locality) in the Omar al-Mukhtar neighbourhood within Tripoli Centre; she is the first woman in Libya to be appointed to this position.

Through the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership, Sumaya works to raise awareness in the community, to shift social perceptions about women’s abilities and contributions in society. In Libya, social norms and perceptions around gender roles are a key barrier to women’s empowerment and women are often excluded from livelihood and economic regeneration projects. Specifically, Sumaya arranged vocational trainings in sewing, cooking, and nursing for over sixty women across Tripoli; she also mentored young women who aspire to leadership positions in the community. An inspirational role model, Sumaya said: “Through the Social Peace Partnership, I have spoken to many young women in Tripoli who expressed their dream of being appointed to a leadership position – but they don’t know how to go about this and are often very afraid of how society will perceive them.”

Sumaya Abushagor presenting to participants during a
workshop with the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership

Abdul Salam Ben Saoud, is the Tripoli Social Peace Partnership coordinator, working closely with the Municipal Council. He says that Sumaya has the vision and skills to be appointed Mukhtar al Mahalla (Head of Locality), noting her track record in delivering vocational training to women – and the production of a plan to repair and revive one of Tripoli’s busiest commercial streets damaged by the conflict.

Sumaya is currently working to deliver vocational trainings for women and youth, involving a collaboration between the Tripoli Centre Social Peace Partnership and the Omar al-Mukhtar neighbourhood. Sumaya said: “Youth unemployment and the financial dependence of women on men are two main challenges faced by our community. It is important that we give youth and women the space to find their talents and be able to earn an income, use their time wisely, and be good role models for future generations, as we work on breaking stereotypes and building a peaceful and prosperous Libya with equal chances for all! We are also working on activities for people with disabilities, as they too have a crucial role in our society and deserve to be represented.”

Sumaya is also working with the local Municipality to identify community priorities. There is an urgent need to repair the power station that provides electricity to her neighbourhood, recently damaged by heavy rain and flooding. She has sent her report to the Ministry of Electricity and the Tripoli Municipal Council, with whom she has good working relationships. The Mayor of Tripoli Centre, Ibrahim Al-Khalifi (interviewed by Alhadath TV1), recently commented on Sumaya’s appointment to Head of Locality: “Sumaya is hardworking, competent and an educated woman who meets the requirements for Head of Locality; she also obtained one of the highest grades in the relevant exam.”

For more on the Libya Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme, click here.

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In Libya, PCi supports women’s inclusion through four pillars:

 Leadership

  • Provide space and opportunities for women to strengthen and practice leadership skills
  • Fund and support women-led initiatives
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing, peer support and mentoring of young women

 Participation

  • Ensure women feel confident and safe to speak freely and participate meaningfully
  • Work with men to behave as allies and advocate for women’s inclusion
  • Ensure women’s interests and needs are considered in decision making

Representation

  • Ensure at least 30 per cent female membership in Social Peace Partnerships and gender-balanced participation across programme activities
  • Include representatives of women’s diverse social groups
  • Support female representatives through training and coaching

Visibility  

  • Support communication strategies and media campaigns that amplify the voices of women leaders
  • Facilitate networking among women leaders in different regions and sectors
  • Support role models with diverse social backgrounds

The role of the Ubari Social Peace Partnership as a local conflict management mechanism

In 2015, PCi supported the establishment of a conflict-sensitive mechanism known as the Social Peace Partnership in Ubari, following successful delivery of a Social Peace and Local Development programme in 2014. The Ubari Social Peace Partnership has played a role in reducing tensions and preventing the outbreak of violent conflict.

Download the Ubari case study here

Ikram’s Journey with the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership: Developing Skills that Benefit the Community

Ikram Mohamed Abdullah is the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership Public Relations Officer; she is a dynamic young woman who graduated from Ajdabiya University with a background in business and IT. She was invited to join the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership by the Head of the Partnership, who was impressed with her work in the community. The skills she has acquired through membership of the Social Peace Partnership have helped her both in conducting social peace initiatives and in her professional life.

Through the Social Peace Partnership, Ikram attended trainings on conflict analysis and conflict mitigation, strengthening her peacebuilding knowledge. She also participated in project management training, acquiring new skills in strategic planning and specifically SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) which have helped her to fundraise for her University. Ikram said:

“Ajdabiya University relied on the national government for funding (because it is a public institution) but unfortunately funding was cut because of the political crisis; this occurred at a time when student exams were about to start. When I met with people from the University, we discussed how we might use SWOT analysis to advocate for more funds and using this tool, we were able to mobilise networks, which resulted in private companies donating resources so that the exams went ahead.”

Ikram is proud of the social peace initiative to renovate the Ajdabiya General Hospital. The Social Peace Partnership produced a list of eight potential projects, that were announced on local radio. Residents were asked to vote for their favourite project with 80 per cent going towards the hospital renovations (involving 10 bathrooms, the construction of a separate entrance for Accident and Emergency and the construction of a women’s area to improve safety and privacy). The project was completed to a high standard, in three weeks, with over thirty volunteers helping out on specific tasks, including painting and plumbing – and within the budget of 40,000 LYD.

Ikram has also played a key role in the Social Peace Partnership efforts to strengthen livelihood opportunities for the most vulnerable community members in Ajdabiya. To date, over 200 people, including many women and youth, have been provided with vocational skills.  Ikram continues:

“Our sewing training project stands out to me, supporting women to earn an income. Selma, was a widow with five children who was struggling to make ends meet. She got a job as a cleaner with the Social Peace Partnership because her widow’s pension no longer covered her basic costs (due to inflation) and she fell into depression. Selma was invited to participate in the sewing workshop. She was very motivated and soon became the top student in the class. We gave her a sewing machine to take home so that she could start producing garments. She now works with a number of stores and supplies them with tailored pieces; she is slowly lifting herself and her family out of economic hardship.”

Unemployed women benefit from vocational skills training such as embroidery and knitting

Ikram’s work with the Social Peace Partnership and civil society more broadly has made her even more determined to pursue ambitious projects.

 “I want to make an impact and feel that I have achieved something important in my community. My work within the Social Peace Partnership has shown me that these projects matter to our society.”

She is particularly committed to continuing to support women in her community, so that they can play a more meaningful role and develop their potential.

“While women still face discrimination in our society, I believe that there is no obstacle too large that can prevent them from achieving their goals. We have the opportunity to take on positions as policymakers, to create real change.”