Over 800 participants from around the world are joining together starting today, Sept. 21, International Day of Peace, for the start of the Local Women’s Voices for Peace, a four day virtual global conference hosted by StFX’s Coady Institute, that is marking the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
“Recognizing the significance, and often under-recognized, work of women community leaders addressing diverse and complex issues related to violence, injustice, security and conflict, by using their assets, determination and knowledge, it was decided to mark this moment by listening to “Local Women’s Voices for Peace,” so that we can really see what women are doing every day,” says Dr. Robin Neustaeter, coordinator of this event
Dr. Neustaeter is also Program Teaching Staff at the Coady in the Women’s Leadership programs, including the online women’s peace courses, and an assistant professor in StFX’s Adult Education and Community Development. Her research is in women’s peace leadership learning.
“COVID-19 has amplified gender inequalities around the world, while at the same time there has been greater attention on women’s leadership and women’s community and care work. Bringing all this together, with the 20th anniversary for a moment seemed like a timely act,” she says.
This virtual global event focuses on women around the world who are active in their communities as peace-builders in diverse sectors and ways.
Peace is more than the absence of war, Dr. Neustaeter says.
Peace is about social and gender justice, eliminating poverty and gender-based violence, addressing cultural norms and practices that perpetuate patriarchy, and amplifying and supporting knowledge, practices and resources/assets foster peace.
StFX’s Coady Institute is coordinating this initiative with graduates of their women leader programs from around the world, and other regional organizers.
To hold a global virtual event focused on women’s leadership and peace has been a dream of Eileen Alma, Director of the International Centre for Women’s Leadership at the Coady, and Dr. Neustaeter’s for some time, she says.
Recognizing the 20th anniversary of 1325 and the new reality of virtual events due to COVID-19, and the extensive and growing Coady women leadership graduate network and the amazing work they are doing, she says they realized that now might be the moment to make this happen – with, and only with, the involvement of their graduates around the world. “Collaboration and cooperation are key.”
FLIP THE SCRIPT
“This conference aims to ‘flip the script’ by focusing on local women and the everyday work of peacebuilding.
“This is not about the formal Peace Talks that typically make the news with images of mostly men in suits. This is the everyday peace grunt work that happens every day, everywhere, over the long haul. Bringing women from different countries and regions together to share their experiences, challenges, strategies and learning with one another – and us- the participants is a unique opportunity to share, learn, and be present and open to what is possible in regards to peaceful change, in significant small and large ways.”
Dr. Neustaeter says one way they are flipping the script is by opting not to have keynote speakers and instead to have keynote listeners.
“Recognizing the significance of active listening for peacebuilding, conflict transformation, activism, and collaboration, we have invited several women of influence and expertise to take part in some of the global and regional sessions as keynote listeners,” she says.
The event consists of global sessions with speakers from different countries and regions speaking to specific issues/topics such as sexual and gender-based violence in the COVID era, women’s leadership, culture, local capacities for peace, and education, and more, with a focus on UNSCR 1325 – Women, Peace and Security.
There are also regional sessions where women in different global regions examine the issues deeper within the regional contexts. These sessions are scheduled at times convenient to the regions and, in some cases, include regional languages and simultaneous interpretation. Additionally, there are three skills workshops open to all registrants.
This event is open to anyone interested in the topic/focus.
In total with participants and speakers they have over 800 taking part. There are over 100 speakers from around the world.
All speakers are women who are leaders in their communities, and all are actively involved in addressing conflict, violence, security, and, peacebuilding.
“The speaker line-up is amazing, to see all the names of the women who are speaking and to think about what they are doing to make their communities and societies more peaceable is quite remarkable. It is exceptional,” Dr. Neustaeter says.
She says the people, the speakers, and the registrants excite her most about this event. “It is phenomenal to see that so many people are keen to connect and focus on women’s peace and security.”