Azerbaijan: Peacebuilding for Women

Training, mentorship and network-building contribute to creating a more equal and inclusive society.

Azerbaijan: Peacebuilding for Women

Training, mentorship and network-building contribute to creating a more equal and inclusive society.

Thursday, 19 January, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

A peacebuilding toolkit for young women and feminist activists, based on the shared experience of Azerbaijani and Armenian cross-border initiatives, aims to empower them to build a more equal and inclusive society.

In both countries, most young women have grown up during war with little recollection of past coexistence. Although they are often the most affected by the propaganda of prejudice and intolerance, they are nonetheless future agents of change for their families and communities.

"I want to do something for our community.”

Under IWPR’s BREN project, the Young Women Peace Academy (YWPA) is creating a network of Azerbaijani peacebuilders with opportunities to meet stakeholders and policy makers as well as to create advocacy campaigns.

“When I got acquainted with the programme, met other girls, studied with interesting mentors, for me the word "peace" acquired a different meaning,” said one young participant. “I understood - first of all, you need to build peace with yourself, then there should be peace on a personal level in the family, among friends. And only after that we can talk about peace and harmony in society, and I find this approach very interesting.

“Now for me the word peace is not something far away, but something that I can build for myself and my loved ones. For this I need knowledge, skills, motivation and support. The latter is the most important condition, because it is very important for me to feel that I am not alone.”

YWPA interviewed activists and scholars working on women, peace and security, such as Arzu Abdullayeva, Ali Abbasov, Zardusht Alizadeh, Rahman Badalov and Togrul Juvarly, to include real life stories and experiences in the toolkit. Several interviews were also conducted with peace activists in Georgia engaged in Azerbaijan-Armenian negotiations including Julia Kharashvili and Elena Rusetskaya.

Ahead of the publication of the feminist peacebuilding toolkit, YWPA began to engage young women and girls through training, mentorship and network-building.

“I like it when people talk to me as an equal, ask my opinion,” said one participant. “I would like there to be such an attitude towards young people in schools, at university and at home. I became interested in the social processes that are taking place in the country and I really like it. I want to do something for our community, but I don't know what exactly yet.”

She added, “Very often I am asked the question: why are you interested in all this, it is not a woman's business to get involved in politics and social activities. It makes me sad."

One mentor stressed that the project included essential aspects for peacebuilding – “education, self-education, the participation of proactive, educated and humane women”.

The veteran activist continued, “One of the goals of the project is to convey to the users of the toolkit and the listeners of the learning process that peacebuilding is not a competition in who is right and who is wrong, but cooperation to understand each other in search of ways to peace, which is so necessary for a decent human life.”

The Building Resilience in the Eastern Neighbourhood (BREN) project is supported by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the United Kingdom and is implemented in partnership with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).

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