Harnessing the Power of Women in Peacemaking

   •    August 10, 2015


This article was originally posted by UNDP.

Peace processes that include women are 64 percent less likely to fail. And, when women and women’s groups are included at the negotiation table, peace agreements are more likely to be reached.

These striking facts and others like it brought a dynamic set of women – and a few men – together for a workshop to better advocate for peace. Organised by UNDP’s Peace Through Development in Disadvantaged Areas (PTDDA) program and the N-Peace network, participants hailed from conflict-sensitive and post-conflict areas throughout Indonesia.

“I still remember what happened when I was 9 or 10,” said rights activist, Yusman Tuhulele from Ambon, referring to the communal conflicts that lasted there from 1999 to to 2003. As an English teacher in Maluku, he said his classes included discussions of the violence that had occurred and people’s experiences, and hoped to bring back even more skills so that he could facilitate discussions and contribute to the recovery.

Women are integral to peace-building and social cohesion, and the training in Jakarta centered on women. PTDDA project manager Syamsul Tarigan said, “Trainings like this are important because we want to provide capacity to advocate and mobilize at the local level so that people have better skills to influence people and government. Women have proven themselves to be very, very prominent in terms of bringing peace in conflict areas but in most cases they seem to be left behind when the situation starts returning to normal.”

The Institute for Inclusive Security’s Carrie O’Neil, who was one of the leaders of the training, told the group on opening day, “We need to start thinking about women and gender-sensitive outcomes now.”

She asked the assembled participants what their hopes for the three-day workshop were, and answers included a better understanding of the obstacles women face and garnering skills to work within their communities. Journalist and activist Gadrida Rosiana from Savu in East Nusa Tenggara said she hoped to integrate peace and security into women’s work in journalism.

As participants learned about the changing nature of conflict in the world, they also learned that new ways to resolve conflicts were required – with women an essential component. Together with the focus on women, discussions on the second day focused on how to localize conflict resolution.

Tarigan said, “Indonesia already has a national action plan to address these issues but it must also be translated into local action plans. This advocacy is very important so local government can formulate action plans that are tailor made. The conflict in Aceh is different than Maluku, the national action plan provides a common platform but it is not enough.”

Following the Jakarta workshop, UNDP’s PTDDA will conduct trainings at the provincial level in Aceh, Central Sulawesi, Maluku, North Maluku, and East Nusa Tenggara.

After the first day, Rosiana discussed bringing the skills she was learning back to Savu. “As a woman and a journalist, I hope to help so that journalists can look at things from a peace perspective.”

Read the original post at UNDP Indonesia’s website.

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