Building Resilience in the Eastern Neighbourhood
Subgrants in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova support peace, security and stability.
Youth activist Serine Avetisyan has a new project: developing guidelines for teachers to introduce a peacebuilding component into the Armenia’s mainstream education system.
Avetisyan, project coordinator at Armenia’s Frontline Youth Network, stresses that it is vital to engage young people in such positive behavioural change.
“You may ask why peace is important to us and our country,” Avetisyan said. “The answer is I’m 27, and I’ve lived through three wars already.”
Frontline Youth Network is one of 32 civil society organisations awarded subgrants by IWPR as part of its Building Resilience in the Eastern Neighbourhood (BREN) project.
The programme supporting women and vulnerable groups is a response to a range of internal and external threats driving instability in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.
These include regional conflict such as the 2020 Nagorny Karabakh war and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and issues related to human rights and gender equality as well as rising levels of disinformation.
While these threats disproportionately affect ethnic minorities, women and other marginalised groups, their voices are often excluded from security, stabilisation and change processes.
“Establishing a peaceful and prosperous society is impossible without respecting each individual's equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender, or other background,” said Mari Kapanadze, program director of the Civil and Political Rights project at GDI in Georgia.
Violence against women across all four countries is deeply rooted in cultural norms and entrenched behaviours. Support for military action and militarised narratives often relies on gender stereotypes. As a result, women peace and rights activists are often the target of hate speech and intimidation campaigns.
Maria Zugarvu, president of Moldova’s Equity Centre for Social Justice, told IWPR that there was largely only superficial respect for women’s rights.
“Through support and joint efforts we can reshape the social paradigm in relation to the value that women have and can acquire in society,” she said,.
Elena Savin, director of the National Institute for Women of Moldova, noted that 40 per cent of women in the country had experienced at least one act of violence in their lives.
She explained that a key issue was opposition to the UN’s so-called Istanbul Convention on women’s rights.
“In October 2021, Moldova ratified the Istanbul Convention, but a powerful campaign to discredit this convention began in the Moldovan press,” Savin continued. “It’s argued that the Istanbul Convention legalizes the removal of children from parents; that the convention will allow children to be taken from families and given to homosexual families.”
With IWPR support, the National Institute for Women of Moldova will run a counter -disinformation campaign on the Istanbul Cpnvention in Gagauzia as “the autonomous region in the south of Moldova is the most patriarchal region in the country,” Savin said.
Launched in September 2022, the first phase of the BREN project is a part of a larger and longer term plan to build resilient, active and impactful civil society organisations and achieve transformative change for peace, security and stability.
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).