Advancing Gender Equality and Security with Erin Baines and Liliane Pari Umuhoza

RN WPS Symposium

In the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, the RN-WPS recently held their third annual symposium at the University of Ottawa.

Erin Baines, SPPGA Professor and Co-director of the RN-WPS, led a panel, “Taking Action: Women’s Human Rights Defenders and Peace Builders Mobilizing for Peace and Security,” focused on mobilizing action against the global backlash against gender equality amidst the rise of the right and authoritarian regimes globally.

Erin Baines and Liliane Pari Umuhoza With Canada's Ambassador for WPS Jacqueine O'Neill

“As chair of the panel, I facilitated discussion from leading human rights defenders and academics who drew from lived experience and research in Sudan, Palestine, Ukraine and Afghanistan. While each region is different, the importance of strengthening solidarity work and holding states accountable was a cross cutting theme across speakers in the panel,” says Baines.

“We also listened and learned from Indigenous Elders on senses of peace and security, Syrian women living in Ottawa and livelihood and Interval House, a Domestic Violence Shelter in Ottawa.”

The symposium aimed to foster cross-sector relationships and global solidarity with women human rights defenders. MPPGA student Liliane Pari Umuhoza shared insights during her presentation on “Reflections on the Everyday Experiences of Youth Born of War,” drawing on her lived experiences and work with youth born of genocidal rape.

Umuhoza stressed the need for proactive measures in conflict prevention, advocated for a survivor-centered approach within the WPS agenda, and underscored the significance of amplifying youth voices. Her contribution deepened understanding of the challenges faced by marginalized groups in conflict-affected regions.

This year’s theme, “Because We Must: Taking Action to Address Gender Equality, Peace, and Security,” reflects a response to the ongoing crises of gender-based violence and insecurity facing women and other marginalized groups in conflict-affected and colonial spaces.

Inspired by Inuit singer and songwriter Susan Aglukark’s beautiful message about the practice of Kihiani, an Inuit term which translates to “Because We Must,” the theme emphasizes empathy, resilience, and challenging harmful behaviors.

In collaboration with MINDS (Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security), the RN-WPS also organized a critical dialogue with the Department of National Defence (DND) in Ottawa on “Gender and Cybersecurity.” Dr. Katharine Millar, a leading gender and cybersecurity expert, highlighted the gendered dimensions of cyber security within the framework of the WPS agenda.

Discussions centered on promoting women’s participation in all conflict-prevention mechanisms and integrating gender perspectives into cybersecurity policies, including combating algorithmic bias and embracing intersectionality.

For more information on the Research Network on Women, Peace, and Security 3rd Annual Symposium, visit here.