When nations affected by violent conflict try to make peace, the evidence is clear on what works. For a durable peace agreement, women must be included throughout the process. While the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed that goal in 2000, women still are excluded from peace processes. Among 504 peace accords signed by 2015, only 27 percent even mentioned women. A U.N. study of 14 peace processes from 2000 to 2010 found that women comprised only 8 percent of negotiators and 3 percent of signatories.
The United Nations has declared a priority this year to unify and strengthen its work in building peace—and U.N. bodies will meet in the next two months to advance that change. U.N. leaders have acknowledged that a vital element in peacebuilding is nonviolent, grassroots movements. But as the United Nations aims to more efficiently promote peace, how prepared is it to actually work with them?
In 2013, musicians, artists and activists began what became one of Africa’s most successful grassroots political movements, The Citizen’s Broom (Le Balai Citoyen). Organized to fight corruption in Burkina Faso, the campaign brought thousands of people into the streets with brooms to “sweep them clean” and highlight longtime President Blaise Compaore’s illegitimate attempts to maintain power.