Tunisian and American activists to end violence against women joined 20 youth leaders from the Middle East and North Africa in a webcast discussion from the U.S. Institute of Peace on Oct. 11 focusing on the role girls play in building peace. The event took place on the International Day of the Girl Child and was part of USIP’s 60 days of activities connecting issues of youth, peace and gender equality. 

Syrian refugee school
Photo Courtesy of Gaby Gerecht

The predominant narrative about youth asserts that young men are perpetrators of violence and young women are victims. In reality, both girls and boys, women and men are powerful agents of change and can work together to foster inclusive societies that manage conflict nonviolently. 

The United Nations General Assembly in 2011 declared Oct. 11 the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize their rights and the obstacles they face. The day concludes two months of special activities USIP has undertaken that began with International Youth Day on Aug. 12 and included the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

Girls have demonstrated the capacity to be strong partners for peace and security. From standing up to the Taliban in the fight for girls' education, as did Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, to participating in collective action for democracy during the Arab Spring, girls and young women are shaping the course of peace and security. 

In this webcast, Henda Maarfi gave a firsthand account of launching the "Stop the Violence" campaign in partnership with Girl Scouts Tunisia. Jin In, the founder of New York-based nonprofit 4Girls GLocal Leadership (4GGL), explained why it is critical to engage girls and how her organization works to support the next generation of girl leaders. The discussion explored how peacebuilding policies and programs can and should emphasize the role of girls and young women in creating more peaceful societies. 

The online audience was encouraged to participate and ask questions via Twitter, using the hashtag #YouthPeaceEquality. 


Jin In
Founder, 4Girls GLocal Leadership (4GGL)

Henda Maarfi
Girls Scout Troop Leader, Tunisia; Fellow, U.S. State Department Leaders for Democracy Program  

Ambassador Steve Steiner
Gender Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Invaluable, Yet Too Often Invisible: Time to Recognize Women Building Peace

Invaluable, Yet Too Often Invisible: Time to Recognize Women Building Peace

Thursday, December 12, 2019

By: Nancy Lindborg

On a recent visit to Colombia, I visited a deeply moving space for reconciliation, Fragmentos, where the guns of the FARC have been hammered into a beautiful rippling floor by many of the women who suffered terribly during the conflict. It was a powerful reminder that though women often bear the greatest burden during times of war, they are also often leaders on the path to peace. In my three decades of doing this work, I’ve repeatedly been humbled by the women I’ve met who have risked their lives and found creative ways to build peace—from women forming neighborhood councils in Syria and Iraqi women securing their legal rights through relentless efforts, to grandmothers riding around on motorbikes to intervene in local disputes in Kenya.

Type: Blog


What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

Monday, November 18, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman

The road to violent extremism is neither simple nor predictable, with diverse motivations and discrete, individual paths. No singular profile accurately describes all those who decide to join. Millions of people may experience similar situations and live in similar contexts but never join an extremist group, while some people will join who would we would not deem at risk. This makes preventing and countering violent extremism exceptionally difficult. It’s an even more intractable task when gender is an afterthought, or worse, gender is used to justify over-simplified, one-size-fits-all approaches.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Violent Extremism

First Lady Rula Ghani on Afghan Women’s Consensus

First Lady Rula Ghani on Afghan Women’s Consensus

Friday, November 15, 2019

By: USIP Staff

As Afghans, the United States and the international community seek an end to the war in Afghanistan, the country’s first lady, Rula Ghani, says thousands of Afghan women nationwide have expressed a clear consensus on two points. They insist that the war needs to end, and that the peace to follow must continue to build opportunities for women. The single greatest step to advance Afghan women’s cause is education and training to build their professional capacities, Ghani told an audience at USIP.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Peace Processes

View All Publications