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03 May 2012

Peacebuilding-Project: Training in conflict resolution skills

Two different trainings are offered to the participating activists: Peace Trainings and Advocacy Trainings. The Peace Building Trainings take place once per year in each country and are carried out by an international trainer. They teach the basic theory behind the definitions of peace and conflict, and conflict resolution skills.

The innovative aspect of these trainings is that they consider and analyse the women’s views of these topics, including an assessment of how the activists have already made a contribution to the peace process and where action would make sense.

Many of the women have many years experience in advocacy actions but have never systematically studied conflict resolution or conflict management. These trainings aims to better establish the connection between peace building and sexualised violence against women. Participants will learn the current international language used in these areas and be further empowered for discussions with institutions and politicians on these issues, where they can demand their rights.

One Advocacy Training will be carried out within the three-year project period. It will give the women an overview of general advocacy tools and of entry topics for political work directed at Germany and the EU. ISIS Europe, medica mondiale’s partner organisation from Brussels, will play a significant role in developing and carrying out this training.

The knowledge taught during this training will be directly applied in the network meetings to plan political activities and choosing the topics to be advocated.

Women as actors in public: Trainings for peace-building

From January until the beginning of April the first series of trainings for peace-building was implemented in the Democratic Republic (DR) of the Congo, in Liberia and in Afghanistan. The participants came from women’s organisations that promote women’s issues in many different ways. Their regular activities range from micro-credits and psycho-social counselling for survivors of sexualised violence to advocacy work for women’s rights. In their communities and organisations the activists from the peace networks in Liberia, Afghanistan and the DR Congo are protagonists of a social change process that challenges traditional male and female role models and ways of interaction with one another.

The training meant a challenge to many women, for example in Liberia, because a considerable number of the participants could not read nor write and didn’t have experience with practical exercises and active participation in trainings. Also in the other countries the background of formal education of the women varied a great deal. For this reason the terminology of conflict and peace was taught in a practical way using the method of the Theatre of the Oppressed and body exercises. The trainers always established the direct reference to the daily life of the women. They turned out to have quite detailed ideas about the meaning of peace in their family and community life.

During the training the participants questioned own familiar patterns of behaviour. For example, the Liberian participants raised the question in which way the beating of children as educational measure should be considered violence or not. In Afghanistan one of the participants stated that she would like to contribute much more to solidarity among Afghan women, because they could only achieve social change through unity.

The peace-building trainings offered also space for personal growth. In Liberia some women commented that they were motivated to learn how to read and write. Another reported that she had solved an old conflict in her personal surroundings. Nearly all of the participants reported that they felt strengthened by the exercises and encouraged in their work.

For the second series of trainings the activists of all countries proposed to introduce mediation techniques and to deepen the issue of communication as a key factor in their awareness raising and advocacy activities.