Anne Kwakkenbos is Cordaid’s Gender expert. She is based in The Hague and works with gender equality activists all over the world.
“We all know that lobbying for gender equality and inclusivity is more effective when you meet decision-makers face to face. With the pandemic, this became a big challenge. But colleague lobbyists and activists around the world were incredibly resilient and creative. We even participated in online UN Security Council meetings, for example on sexual violence in the Central African Republic.
Women and youth shouldn’t be silenced when it comes to peace, stability, and security. They should be the first to listen to.
Facilitating online access for civil society members to UN meetings and missions took sweat and tears. But going fully digital was also an opportunity to become more inclusive. Suddenly, activists from fragile and volatile places no longer had to travel by air and make long and expensive trips.
Cordaid works in fragile and volatile countries, like South Sudan and Afghanistan. Gender equality is relevant for all women and men in the world, but especially here. This is where we support women and young civil society activists in peacebuilding and decision-making processes. Because peacebuilding can only be successful if everyone is included.
Unfortunately, the power often lies with older men. They aren’t always happy to share it. We need to challenge that. Constantly. Because everyone needs to be heard. Women and youth shouldn’t be silenced when it comes to peace, stability, and security. They should be the first to listen to.
I have the best job in the world. I get to work with the most amazing women, working in the most difficult circumstances. My only job is to open doors to decision-making spaces, where they can express their concerns, speak up and grab opportunities to forge a more equal world.”