YWILPF at the WILPF Australia Triennial 2015

YWILPF recently presented at the WILPF Australia Triennial, held in Canberra on Saturday May 30th. Erin-Claire Barrow represented YWILPF at this event and presented on YWILPF’s achievements and projects over the past five years. Below is the text of her presentation. 

Triennial Speech YWILPF

The Australian YWILPF network has now existed for four years. We had only been around for a year at the time of the last Triennial, but since then we have done so much. Three years ago, YWILPF’s achievements had included feeding into policy discussions and making submissions, including on Australia’s National Action Plan, and attending CSW as WILPF delegates. Since then as an active chapter we have covered a huge area and finished a lot of projects. Below are just the highlights.

2012

Following on from the last Triennial for the rest of 2012 YWILPF was busy in a number of areas. In June YWILPF made a submission to the CEDAW Committee on the human rights of women in conflict and post conflict, which was co-endorsed by FemLINK Pacific and World YWCA. Cara Gleeson was interviewed for and included in ‘Side by Side,’ the Civil-Military Centre, Office for Women and UN Women video on Women, Peace and Security. In April of 2012, YWILPFers Cara and Fiona McAlpine spoke on a panel at the international symposium on Peacekeeping in the Asia Pacific: Gender Equality, Law and Collective Security. This talk would later go on to form the basis of a chapter by YWILPFers in a book on peace and security – more on that later.

2013

In 2013 May Maloney, Cara Gleeson, Sharna de Lacy and Sarah Boyd attended CSW as WILPF delegates. Sarah also attended the first Annual Civil Society Dialogue on Women Peace and Security in Canberra. YWILPF members took on a consulting role with Young UN Women Australia, Melbourne Chapter to assist them in writing an introductory manual and workshop on women, peace and security. The workshops were later delivered Australia wide, and as of last year the manual was being used by Defence for training purposes. YWILPF organised a very successful four week program of public lectures through the Melbourne Free University. Speakers from a variety of institutions, organisations and backgrounds spoke on local and international issues related to militarisation, disarmament, insecurity and peace activism with a gender lens.

Also in 2013, with the support of FemLINK Pacific in Fiji, radio station 3CR Melbourne, and the Community Media Training Organisation in Sydney, YWILPF were able to arrange an Australian based radio broadcasting internship program with an emphasis on women’s rights and social change for a young Fijian woman. YWILPF’s intern, Nandni Vandhana, spent two weeks in Sydney and Melbourne participating in training, networking and producing radio content as well as sharing her knowledge around radio broadcasting and feminist peacebuilding gained from working with FemLINK Pacific. The internship was largely funded through a successfully crowdsourcing campaign.

2014

One of the main successes of 2014 was the development of the Fabric Social by some of the founding YWILPF women, Sharna de Lacy and Fiona McAlpine. A successful crowdfunding campaign was run in June 2014 to get it started, and in 2015 they have launched their first clothing range. YWILPF members and WILPF members more broadly were instrumental in supporting the Fabric Social financially, through word of mouth, and with expertise in social media etc.

The 2014 publication of the book Rethinking Peacekeeping, Gender Equality and Collective Security included a chapter by YWILPF founders Cara Gleeson, May Maloney, Fiona and Sharna, titled Security Council 1325: Age and gender in conflict and the future of feminism. This was the culmination of a lot of work since their 2012 inclusion on the panel of the international symposium on peacekeeping in the Asia Pacific.

YWILPF members attended and spoke at a number of key events in 2014. YWILPF was represented at the second Annual Civil Society Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security held in Canberra in 2014. Two YWILPF members, Sarah Boyd and Fiona, attended CSW as WILPF delegates. They spoke on a panel on controlling arms in India organised by PeaceWomen and Bina from the Manipur Gun Survivors Network. Yasmin Chilmeran attended the Asia-Pacific Disarmament Conference in New Zealand in April, and the Asia Pacific Feminist Forum in Chiangmai earlier in the year. In Chiangmai Yasmin was part of a panel presenting on 1325 and its transformative capacities.

Erin-Claire Barrow represented WILPF at the “International Scholar’s Symposium: The Fulfilment of State Responsibility and the Role of Civil Society in Ending Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict” in Seoul. Her talk was on “The Importance of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda to achieving Gender Equality and Sustainable Peace”. Erin-Claire also started as the permanent YWILPF observer on the WILPF board in 2014.

YWILPF was fortunate to again have an intern in 2014. Alejandra Pineda, a master’s student from Colombia, worked on social media promotion of WILPF’s Centenary Conference and Peace Women Awards, as well as conducting research on the future of peace activism for WILPF with YWILPF members around the world. The findings of her survey were presented during the WILPF Australia Centenary Conference in 2015.

2015

So far this year, YWILPF has achieved a lot in a short space of time! YWILPF’s biggest achievement has been to again partner with FemLINK Pacific to run a radio internship. This time YWILPF selected an intern from Australia, Alexia Fuller, who travelled to Fiji to complete the internship. Alexia spent two weeks in Suva and Nadi attending Young Women in Leadership Training and participating in young women’s radio activities. She was also able to meet with Nandni Vandhana, YWILPF’s 2013 intern, and work with FemLINK staff and volunteers. YWILPF is currently looking at sustainability options to continue this intern exchange program in coming years.

YWILPF has put a big emphasis this year on giving young women opportunities to attend important events here and overseas. In addition to helping to fund the internship in Fiji, YWILPF also assisted a number of YWILPF members to attend the Australian WILPF Centenary celebrations in Canberra in May. YWILPF helped to fund Sharna de Lacy to attend the international centenary celebrations at the Hague, and partially funded three YWILPF members, Erin-Claire Barrow, Sarah Boyd and Jodi Peskett, to go to CSW this year in New York.

Two YWILPF members were fortunate to attend the centenary conference in the Hague. Sharna de Lacy and Fiona McAlpine both attended the Congress and the Conference, where they also had a stall for the Fabric Social, which this year launched its first clothing range. They both had a lot to say about it, but one of the highlights was seeing some women from Uganda speak at a side event. These women had been sex slaves under the LRA and now make jewellery made from recycled paper as an income stream. Fiona and Sharna are working on forging a Fabric Social partnership with them, which was a fantastic outcome.

As a final update from YWILPF for the last three years, YWILPF members also contributed to the WILPF Centenary Conference, both MCing the conference and delivering the closing keynote address. YWILPF members Yasmin Chilmeran and Sophia Tipping left attendees as the Conference with a lot to think about with their talk on the future of WILPF and the next hundred years of women’s peace activism.

This is only a taste of what YWILPF has been up to over the past three years. YWILPF members have also been busy in many other areas, for example writing or contributing to submissions to the Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG) and the Defence White Paper. We are looking forward to a busy and productive next three years! If you would like to be part of them, or have an idea for a project YWILPF could undertake, please get in touch at ywilpfaustralia@gmail.com and come along to one of our meetings.