Counterpart International, a global leader in the development of the social sector, announced the official launch of its two-year Women's Peace Building Initiative (WPBI) under a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The launch is taking place in Buka, Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARB) at the Kuri Village Resort on May 20, 2014.
The project will partner with citizen leaders and social sector organizations in the ARB to achieve long-term peace and stability, by supporting capacity building of women's organizations so that women can grow as effective and cohesive influencers in their communities. Counterpart will also work with its partners in facilitating the implementation of the ARB's National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
WPBI will provide services and support to all three regions of Bougainville. Through this program, Counterpart International will also work with women and men to protect human rights and improve security. A special emphasis will also be placed on engaging youth - the majority in Bougainville's population – to serve as agents of change in reducing abuse, sexual violence, and enhancing peace and security in the ARB.
"Women play a significant role in keeping the peace in our societies. The U.S. government is pleased to work with the ARB government, civil society organizations, and other development partners to unlock the potential of women in ARB to serve as agents of change and inspire lasting development in their communities," said Walter North, U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.
Women were among the most affected during the 1989-1998 civil war in the Bougainville region. The increased risk of rape, torture and abuse restricted their movements and limited their freedom to express their views. The lack of access to medicine and health services during the civil war crisis lead to increased maternal and infant mortality rates. Yet it was the women who effectively leveraged the mechanisms of civil society - first through church groups and then civil society organizations (CSOs) - to support the peace movement that contributed to the end of the conflict. Women-led civil society groups played a key role in the peace building and recovery process in the region, providing counseling and other services to victims of conflict and violence.
The project will award $350,000 in grant funds to local civil society organizations (CSOs) who will implement activities in three areas: Trauma Counseling and Mental Health Services and Support, Family and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment, and ARB National Action Plan Awareness and Implementation.
As ARB continues with its recovery process, USAID's new program, implemented by Counterpart International, will support these efforts to further the region's healing and transformation. To learn more about this new program and join the movement of transforming the lives of thousands of citizens in their communities around the world, go to www.counterpart.org.