Protecting Women Peacebuilders Across The Globe
By Kimberly Bishop | Corporate Responsibility
Conflict affects every region of our world and courageous people spend their lives working to end cycles of violence in their communities. In some countries these peacebuilders work to address extremist violence or heavy-handed security forces. In others, peacebuilders are working to rebuild trust between community members and police.
Studies show that women’s inclusion in peacebuilding processes is essential for long-term success. Peace agreements with women involved are 64% less likely to fail[i] and 35% more likely to last at least 15 years[ii], but since 1992, women only account for 3% of mediators on peace agreements.[iii]
One significant challenge women peacebuilders face is the threat to their families, as their work sometimes challenges existing power structures. This challenge has only increased as women peacebuilders transition to working online in the time of COVID.
Tech For Good, NortonLifeLock’s newest Corporate Responsibility initiative, focuses on using our products and expertise to support vulnerable people. As part of Tech For Good, we responded to a call from The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School (Kroc IPJ) to help protect women peacebuilders. The Kroc IPJ works to end violence by co-creating learning that is deeply grounded in the lived experience of peacebuilders around the world.
Kevin Alejandro Roundy, Technical Director at NortonLifeLock Research Group, jumped at the chance to get involved in this initiative: “Technology must be an ally for these courageous women, and not a weapon that is used against them. We are sharing our cyber-safety expertise and making our privacy and threat-protection technologies available to these peacekeepers in their all-important mission," he said.
We stand with these courageous women peacebuilders who defend our most vulnerable
As part of our partnership, NortonLifeLock is providing product donations and cyber safety training to help protect women peacebuilders’ digital identities and on July 15th this partnership officially kicked off. Paige Hanson, NortonLifeLock’s Chief of Cyber Safety Education, and Carolyn Williams, interim Women Peace and Security Program Officer at the Kroc IPJ, provided 15 women peacebuilder participants with a one-hour digital safety training.
Paige is a certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist™, has over 14 years of experience in identity management, and, in partnership with FBI-LEEDA, designed a national identity theft training program for law enforcement that has been produced across all 50 states.
The Kroc IPJ is committed to co-designing processes and co-developing content and this initiative is no exception. Prior to conducting the training, the women peacebuilders were consulted on content, expectations and desired outcomes.
Our presentation was designed for the diverse contexts of the participants and assessments were conducted pre and post training to determine levels of understanding and collect feedback from the peacemakers. This way, the content and delivery will continue to be improved for future iterations and best serve women peacemakers.
Cyber safety knowledge doubles in just one training
Attendees that joined the July 15th training included women representing peacebuilding organizations working in Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Pakistan, Palestine, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, the US and Native American tribal nations. Extra precautions were taken to maintain participant anonymity and confidentiality in the training, given the sensitivity of cyber security in some contexts.
On average, participants rated their understanding of cyber security as a 3 out of 10 prior to the training, noting that cyber security is highly relevant to their peacebuilding work, particularly with our new digital reality. Peacemakers were particularly concerned about hackers accessing sensitive information, their camera and videos, and their personal locations.
Following the training, this average rating increased to a 6, meaning that the collective level of knowledge among peacemakers doubled from just one training. In fact, the understanding of key aspects of cyber security doubled in nearly every category—from mobile device security to pubic Wi-Fi risks.
Participants also reported that they would change online behaviors and account settings as a result of the training and each participant received a free VPN product license and Norton 360 Deluxe to help protect their identities, devices and online activities.
The Executive Director of the Kroc IPJ, Andy Blum, said of this joint effort: “With so much peacebuilding work going virtual in the time of COVID, we are excited to be able to provide our women peacemakers the skills and tools they need to stay safe online. This will ensure their critical work to build more peaceful communities continues globally."
To learn more about the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice visit https://www.sandiego.edu/peace/institutes/ipj and check back for updates on NortonLifeLock’s Tech For Good initiative.