Lesson 01: Marginalised groups


Targeting marginalised groups for capacity building exercises is a good way to build confidence and expertise.

Certain demographics are typically shut out of peacebuilding processes. Typically, these groups are: women, young people, ethnic or religious minorities, LGBT people, and/or disabled people. In peace processes between 1992 and 2011, for example, women made up: 2% of chief mediators, 4% of witnesses and signatories, and only 9% of negotiators. Further evidence on women’s involvement in constitution drafting, meanwhile, is available from Inclusive Security. If some demographics are excluded from peacebuilding activities, then these interventions will be less likely to succeed because excluded groups may not encourage processes they feel excluded from.

Exclusion from peacebuilding activities can occur as a result of direct discrimination, whereby one group is explicitly told that they are not permitted to become involved, or through indirect discrimination, whereby certain groups might be informally told that peacebuilding activities are ‘not for them’, or where structural inequalities cause these groups to lack the confidence to put themselves forward for such activities. Exacerbating this is a sentiment that experience alone is not enough to justify involvement within peacebuilding activities, as this quote from a female civil society leader demonstrates: ‘I thought my experience of what was happening on the ground would be useful, but they seemed to want people with PhDs in negotiation’.

Ultimately, therefore, enhancing confidence and expertise within marginalised groups allows for these problems to be mitigated, and capacity building activities can aid in this endeavour. Capacity building can be defined as an array of efforts to strengthen organisations’ and individuals’ capacities to meet the challenges inherent in attempting to achieve a sustainable peace. For instance, the EU defines capacity as ‘the ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully’ and adds that it is ‘an attribute of people, individual organisations and groups of organisations. Capacity is shaped by, adapts to and reacts to external factors and actors, but it is not something external — it is internal to people, organisations and groups or systems of organisations. The qualitative and quantitative feedback from all three workshops demonstrates that participants believe they have gained expertise, for example, 89% of participants who answered the question felt that they had improved their understanding of how to use social media to engage with government, the public or other relevant civil society actors. In addition, follow-up feedback suggests that participants later felt confident enough with this expertise to deploy it within their organisation, strengthening organisational capacity: ‘Following the workshop, I discussed what I had learned with my colleagues in my organisation and explained to them how to write better policy briefs as a non-government organisation working for citizens in the Fushe Kosovo district’ (Lorenta Kadriu, Raise Your Hand For Help, Kosovo).


Any capacity building activities should reserve a specified number of places to accommodate participants representing marginalised groups, if such groups are not included already. That is, the marginalised should be mainstreamed into capacity building activities: their participation should be encouraged, and this should be reflected in the design and implementation of capacity building activities.