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Canada’s women, peace, and security awards

February 10, 2022

The role of women as peacebuilders working to promote inclusive peaceful societies is often overlooked. IDRC research awardees are trying to change that through research in Iraq, Syria and Yemen on how to amplify women’s voices in peacebuilding processes and address some of the specific challenges they face as women. 

Their work is made possible through research awards marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. Launched by IDRC and Global Affairs Canada, this annual awards initiative aims to strengthen the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

The Women, Peace and Security Research Award

This IDRC-bestowed research award aims to advance knowledge about women’s contributions to gender-inclusive and transformative conflict-prevention, conflict-resolution and peacebuilding processes. Two research awards of CAD20,000 will be awarded annually over five years.

The first award winners are researcher Marsin Alshamary and two researchers, Hafsa Afailal and Muzna Dureid, who share an award.

Marsin Alshamary’s work focuses on Iraqi women’s leadership in formal politics and in civil society, to better discern the connections between the two groups. Her aim is to examine women’s engagement in peacebuilding efforts at the local level and across the rural-urban divide and to understand how to strengthen and leverage their contributions to peace and security.

The 2021 elections in Iraq saw a high number of female candidates running for office through existing political parties or as independent candidates. Supported in part by a new electoral law creating smaller districts and the existing female quota of 25% representation in some districts, 97 women won seats in Iraq’s 329-member parliament.

In an environment of ongoing public protest and the proliferation of paramilitary groups, Alshamary’s research seeks to answer the following key questions:

  • Where do women activists and political leaders stand and what vision of Iraq do they hold to achieve a peaceful and democratic state?
  • How do they define effective peacebuilding and state-building processes in an Iraqi context?
  • How compatible are the views of women political leaders with those of women civil-society activists in Iraq? Is there a pipeline from women’s activism to political leadership?

Alshamary is a researcher with extensive fieldwork experience in Iraq. She has a demonstrated record of research on Iraqi civil society and holds a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Hafsa Afailal and Muzna Dureid are the winners of the second award focusing on the digital security of women human-rights defenders, activists and peacebuilders in Syria and Yemen. To enhance women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding, the researchers seek to highlight women’s strategies to counter the increasing digital threats to their safety and efforts to control their activism.

Globally, there has been a proliferation of digital activism, especially by women human-rights defenders and activists, who are increasingly subjected to gender-based violence in these online spaces. In the Middle East and North Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as an excuse to continue long-standing policies of repression, with women in conflict and post-conflict contexts being systematically targeted online and offline by both state and non-state actors.

The research will focus on understanding the pandemic’s impact on women human-rights defenders, activists and peacebuilders in Syria and Yemen, and its effect on their progress and commitment to meaningful participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding. A key area of investigation will shed light on the coping and adaptation mechanisms to fend off these challenges. 

Afailal is a humanitarian worker with a strong background in training, research, evaluation, innovation and project management in the Middle East. She also holds a PhD in social sciences from the Rovira i Virgili University in Spain. Dureid is founder of “Women Refugees, not Captives,” a campaign aiming to end forced and child marriages of Syrian refugee women and girls. She is a master’s candidate in public policy and public administration at Concordia University, Canada. She is herself a Syrian refugee in Montreal.

The Women, Peace and Security Civil Society Leadership Award

As part of the same initiative, Global Affairs Canada is bestowing a civil society leadership award. This award recognizes the work of individuals, civil society organizations or networks active at the grassroots who have made outstanding contributions to advancing women, peace and security in a fragile or conflict-affected state or region or in Canada.

This year, the award recipients are Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and Tejido Mujer (Woman Weave), Colombia.

Pauktuutit advocates for the empowerment of Inuit women. The organization has contributed to advancing the women, peace and security agenda in Canada through political leadership and diplomacy and contributions to programming on gender-based violence, anti-racism and food security, to name a few.

Tejido Mujer has led peaceful resistance to conflict in Colombia and advanced Indigenous women's rights. It provides training to Indigenous women to engage in advocacy actions in response to human rights violations.

Awards ceremony

On February 10, 2022, the award winners were acknowledged at a ceremony by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs , the Honourable Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, IDRC President Jean Lebel and Canada’s ambassador for Women, Peace and Security, Jacqueline O’Neill.

Visit the Women, Peace and Security Awards Program page on the Global Affairs Canada website.  

Recipients of Canada’s Women, Peace and Security Research Award

  • Marsin Alshamary, for research on Iraqi women’s leadership in formal politics and in civil society at the local level and across the rural-urban divide.
  • Hafsa Afailal and Muzna Dureid, for research on the digital security of women human-rights defenders, activists and peacebuilders in Yemen and Syria.