Role of Women in Peace-building around the World (Part II) – Rameez Ahmed Sheikh

Continued from first part, read here

In the African region many peace-building efforts have been made by women, specifically in overcoming the ethnic conflicts. The region has been a focal point in receiving aid, mediators and peace activists since it is one which has seen thousands of deaths and displacement of people due to the civil wars and conflicts. In the Wajir district, Kenya, the wajir women association was established for peace process in the aftermath of a genocide. The local women brought everyone together to stop violence in order to save the lives and the livelihood of the people. Alfataa declaration for peace was then setup for conducting investigations with teams drawn from all clans. The teams were entrusted regarding crimes and right judgment. They also utilized religion as a source to mediate common masses and the disarmament of the militiamen in addition to giving them livelihood opportunities by the help of the government.

In Somalia, IIDA women development organization of merca in the mid 1990’s brought forth and worked for not only the disarmament but also the retraining of the young militiamen. As a result, armaments were melted and 156 million militiamen demobilized.  Another local organisation by the name of HaweenkaHorseedkaNabadda (HINNA) is a network of women pioneers for peace and life. In 2003 it was established by peace fighters and it organized peace campaigns. Furthermore, a multitude of women-run NGOs in Mogadishu were active promoters of peace education and other peace-building activities. In Burundi, peace-building fund priority plan included women as a major factor, that is, as an important actor to create and strengthen the peace and social cohesion in the community. Their role as an active agent was seen in the in the prevention of violence, the rehabilitation of people in community and the reconstruction of the physical structures that were damaged.

In Sierra Leone organizations like Luawa skills training centre in kailahun, Women Progressive Movement (WPM) Freetown and Caritas-Makeni in Makeni were at work. This organization worked on a variety of program which are skills training, Medicare, mental and physical healthcare, supporting children, welfare services and finding parents. Also, In Sierra Leone the women undertook community building by creating an environment in which peace was not only viable but sustainable as well. These steps included the reshaping of economic, social and psychological environment.

In the region of Asia there have also been many efforts to further the cause of peace-building. In India, Naga Mothers Association (NWA), and Female -Youth activists of Yakjah provide local peace-building campaigns that are initiated to attain peace in areas afflicted with violence and hostilities. NWA took steps to stop inter-factional violence, by meeting with officials and officers for peace agreements. Their activities not only discouraged armed conflict, but also strengthened peace process and reconciliation mandate. Yakjah aims to build peace in Kashmir. Local peacebuilder Aashima developed “Youth Development and Leadership” program under “Yakjah Reconciliation and Development Network”, which offers cross-culture workshops and trainings for young people. In the year 2014, they trained 50 young people in peace-building. Aashima and other local women of Yakjah forum are also involved in training teachers for conflict transformation skills.

Pakistan has a wide network of peacebuilders. Aware girls by Gulalai Ismail was launched for the purpose of not only advancing women empowerment but for the peace promotion and pluralism. It promotes peace in the conflict ridden areas and the areas with levels of extremist tendencies. All Pakistan women association (APWA) promotes peace education, literacy, skill development, awareness campaigns, competitions, welfare centre, maternity centre, hospitals, exhibitions of the work of domestic designers and workers. Association of women for awareness and motivation (AWAM) has an aim which is for a peaceful society with discrimination and violence free environment, and is achieved by rallies for peace and human rights.Maria effendi a professor and an internationally renowned scholar and researcher. Who apart from being a consultant for the curriculum for Search for Common Ground’s trainer manual and workshop seminars, has also been a trainer for negotiation and conflict resolution. She has written publications and given lectures for peacebuilding

Huma Chughtai is a Gender and Police reform expert in Pakistan. She has a well-known reputation at Government level in terms of policy reforms in Judiciary, parliament and police. She also uses her expertise in Shariah law, and trains youth in the provinces affected by terrorism. These trainings are based on peaceful elements of Islam, linking International conventions with Islamic doctrines to counter arguments that fuel extremism. Amina Waheed is a young women peace-builder, she and her fellow peace-builders founded their own initiative “The Gender Integrated Peacebuilding Foundation (GIPF)”, which works with the youth and also in increasing female participation, educating women about their rights and transform them into human rights defender. Amna has contributed to the civil society and has been doing work with other peace delegates in Asia. She went with civil society delegation to Afghanistan, intended to develop dialogues between communities in the conflicting border region.

In Indonesia, the Gerakanperempuanpeduli (GPP) which is translated into the concerned women’s movement, is made up of inter-religious women. These women held peace-building activities like peace marches, civic education, sermons, storytelling highlighting the loss and pain resulting from the conflict, art performances, inter-religious gathering, trauma counselling, and workshops for mothers and youth, local peace ambassadors and messengers. After closing, GPP has two offshoots – genuine ambassadors for peace (GAP) and Young ambassador for peace (YAP).

Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) is another notable organization of women fighting for the peace making process across Afghanistan. AWN is a keystone of Afghanistan’s experienced women’s movement, serving as a well-established network for the growing number of women’s organizations and individual members operating in the country.  Female U.S Army officers are also playing their role as a mediator and negotiator among local women of Afghanistan. Research claims that U.S arm forces in Afghanistan are now stuck after passing more than a decade, as they are failing to connect with half of population in order to win their hearts and minds. Finally, they came up with the Female engagement team who can connect with local women –as a source of key to understand their issues, and gaining their trust. They are receiving much success in this campaign.

General analysis of the situations presented over the course of time makes way for the conclusion that women have participated actively for the purpose of instilling peace in the people and contributed greatly for the cause of peace-building. The role played by them, at both local and international levels, has been of great importance and in some cases even led to formal government projects. Women showed their self-reliance strategies, adopted in most unexpected but demanding environment. They have risen, taken leadership roles and engineered community participation. Calling them effective peace-builders is true due to their inclination towards psycho-social, economic and structural reformation and recovery.

Now-a-days the threats and the conflicts are seen spreading everywhere, therefore the study and practice of peace-building has been receiving increasing attention; as a result the women participation has been augmented. This rise in the participation will most likely continue if women keep taking part in peace-building projects, affiliate with NGOs, impart peace education and work for the cause in their own home and localities.Women must be welcomed and recognized in peace building process.

The author is the founder & Executive Director of Peace Education Network Pakistan (PENPAK) and also serving as a Visiting Faculty Member at University Law College, University of the Punjab, Lahore – Pakistan, Since September 2016.

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