The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted a shift towards greater reliance on technologies for supporting ways of working and convening across the world. In recent years, however, peacebuilding practitioners and researchers have become interested in the potential of technologies to support the quest for more inclusive and sustainable peace processes.
As part of the Virtual Torino Forum for Sustaining Peace, hosted by United Nations System Staff College, on September 8th 2020, the Political Settlements Research Programme and UN Women presented their new PeaceFem mobile app, and led a discussion with participants on the potential of technology to support the Women, Peace and Security and Youth, Peace and Security Agendas.
PeaceFem is a mobile phone app that tracks women’s inclusion in peace processes around the world. PeaceFem provides information about strategies women’s rights advocates have used to influence peace agreements. It also informs users about the enabling and constraining factors that shaped the space for influence, and the gender provisions in the peace agreements that resulted. And it provides information on how well they were implemented. The app draws on PA-X peace agreement data from the University of Edinburgh, and case studies developed by InclusivePeace and Monash University’s Gender, Peace and Security Centre.
In the session, participants first heard reflections from Professor Christine Bell, Director of PSRP, on the emergence of the field of PeaceTech, and why a series of innovative experiments with peace process data by PSRP and partners led to the creation of the PeaceFem app. Sarah Brun, UN Women ad interim Head of the Arab States Regional Office, then discussed women’s involvement in peacebuilding in the region, and why such technologies are important for women’s inclusion in peace processes. PSRP Research Associate Laura Wise shared the PeaceFem app features with participants – who had downloaded the app prior to the session – and discussed how the app could be used to support women in peace processes. Finally, PSRP Graduate Fellow Fiona Knäussel reflected on the complexity of bringing together the right people to develop a PeaceTech tool like PeaceFem, and on challenges for women accessing and using PeaceTech in general.
This article is cross-posted on the UNSSC website.