For the last two decades, Guinea-Bissau has experienced major political turmoil, with successive coups and recurrent confrontations between political authorities and the military.
In 2007, Interpeace set up a peacebuilding programme in collaboration with a local partner, Voz di Paz (Voice of Peace). The vision of the programme is to contribute to civic engagement for social cohesion, institutional modernization and peacebuilding. Voz di Paz’s and Interpeace’s long-term goal is to address obstacles to peace in Guinea‐Bissau by fostering a culture of dialogue and engaging all sectors and levels of society in the peacebuilding process.
Through a national consultation process, Voz di Paz engaged over 6,000 Bissau-Guineans to identify the main obstacles to lasting peace in the country. Bissau-Guineans identified the lack of effective state institutions, poor administration of justice and social exclusion as the main obstacles. As a result, the programme currently has two main areas of focus: gender and justice.
On gender, the programme aims to increase women’s participation in governance and conflict resolution. It promotes the inclusion of women in decision-making processes through capacity building, advocacy, and public awareness raising. Concerning justice, the programme is aiming to build new mechanisms and strengthen citizens’ capacities for monitoring and evaluation of and advocacy for local governance in the justice sector. The idea is to foster an active citizenry for an effective intervention to improve the governance of justice.
Voz di Paz’s has established a unique peace architecture across the country – a network of 10 Regional Spaces for Dialogue made up of community leaders that can be called upon to prevent and resolve local conflicts. Voz di Paz has partnerships with over 30 national and community-based radio stations from all over the country and collaborates with a network of about 50 youth organizations. Voz di Paz also has good relationships with the government and the security forces which enables Voz di Paz to build bridges between the people and the country’s elites.
In 2017, Interpeace and Voz di Paz implemented a unique platform on which to voice concerns and jointly reflect on deeply-rooted social dynamics, such as the role of women in governance. Over 700 Bissau-Guineans were consulted throughout the country, offering a unique opportunity to talk openly. The programme is therefore not only allowing people to reflect and analyze their own challenges but encouraging and accompanying them to become actors of their own change. With its unique approach, the work of Voz di Paz is pioneer in the field of women’s participation in decision-making in Guinea-Bissau and is greatly contributing to building a comprehensive understanding of the theme.
In 2019, Interpeace and Voz di Paz will be implementing three main interventions, with a focus on: a). the justice sector reform, shedding light on the access to traditional justice and the relationship between the traditional and formal justice system, with a focus on children and women; b). engaging with the female and male leadership of political parties, to promote female leadership; and c). the development of the first participatory barometer in the country to collect and analyse quantitative data on the perceptions and experiences of the population with the governance of justice.