UK FCO Meeting Discusses IPF With WASL Partners

On February 19-20th, ICAN and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) hosted a Global Solutions Exchange roundtable titled “Appetite for Risk of Investing in Trust? Lessons and Best Practices from ICAN’s Innovative Peace Fund (IPF) in Supporting Local Women-led Organizations’ Peace, Security and P/CVE Work” in London, UK.

The key objectives of the meeting included:

1) To identify entry points and opportunities for shifting current practices of grantmaking to women-led organizations in the peace and security field so that funding is more widely available and reaches those organizations with the most impact in their local communities.

2) To develop guidance and recommendations for donors and international organizations interested in supporting and safeguarding the existing work of women peacebuilders and women-led CSOs.

3) To showcase the impact of funding local women-led organizations directly involved in implementing innovative solutions for engaging in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) work and playing leadership roles in peace processes, with special emphasis on the impact of small to medium-sized grants.

4) To share best practices and lessons learned on peacebuilding and P/CVE from women peacebuilders active in their local communities

The roundtable brought together women and men peacebuilders and members of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) from Afghanistan, Yemen, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.  The event provided a space for an exchange of ideas and best practices between local civil society actors and representatives of international organizations, institutions, think tanks and foreign governments. Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Founder and Executive Director of ICAN and Rosy Cave, Head of the Gender Equality Unit at the FCO, opened the meeting with a discussion of the achievements of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda over the last 19 years.  Ms. Naraghi Anderlini touched on the importance of funding locally and described ICAN’s efforts to do so through the IPF.

“Happy to offer this as a model because the appetite for risk is something we challenge. We look at it and say what are the major concerns of donors? And on the other hand, what are the concerns from grantees on the ground? We as ICAN sort of have a bridging role”, said Sanam Naraghi Anderlini.

Ms. Cave provided the conceptual framing of the meeting, describing why funding locally is so critical and describing the UK’s contributions to the cause, including funding organizations like ICAN that have mechanisms in place to provide grants at the grassroots level. Representatives from Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) and Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) discussed their organizations’ work related to WPS and funding locally. Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN Alumni Trust in Pakistan, gave an overview of funding local women’s work on building peace and preventing/countering violent extremism and the importance to understanding the local context when designing programs.

Among the 11 WASL members and IPF grantees who attended the event,  Hamsatu Allamin, Founder of Allamin Foundation in Nigeria, Visaka Dharmadasa, Founder of the Association of War Affected Women in Sri Lanka, and Omezzine Khelifa, Founder of Mobdiun Creative Youth in Tunisia, spoke of how the IPF has helped them expand their work because of its unique ability to directly reach those on the ground and its flexibility and willingness to fund newly formed organizations as well as to support those with deeps roots in the community.

“ICAN’s IPF, with the very strategic intervention, has much more impact than big funding”

– Visaka Dharmadasa

Muna Luqman, Founder & Chairperson of Food4Humanity in Yemen, is one of the newest members of WASL and received her first grant through IPF last year. In the short period of time since receiving this funding, Ms. Luqman has been able to establish a youth network, which has generated much positive attention in the community, and demands for increasing the membership. Ms. Luqman reiterated what many of WASL members touched on: the importance of adapting programs to the local context.  An example of why this is important is evident in the name of Ms. Luqman’s: Food4Humanity. She selected this name because in Yemen, they are not permitted to discuss peace openly, thus by providing humanitarian assistance, it provided an opening for them to do peace work and to gain buy-in from the community.

“Working with ICAN, we have had so much support and gained so much experience. This has had such an effect for my work on the ground. I feel like I am a part of a family.”

– Muna Luqman

At the conclusion of the meeting, all participants agreed on a list of policy recommendations that governments and other donors should take into consideration when funding peacebuilding and P/CVE program. The roundtable is the beginning of a larger discussion ICAN is spearheading with the wider donor community to ensure that current practices governing grantmaking to women-led organizations in the peace and security are reflective of the needs on the ground and are maximizing impact in local communities. Based on the findings from this meeting, and from other follow up discussions, ICAN will produce a list of recommendations for donor organizations and agencies on how to more effectively fund work that promotes peace, resilience, equality and pluralism. ICAN hopes that this will be an ongoing and collaborative conversation.