Asking the Right Questions: Gender and Nonviolence


Editor: Shelley Anderson

Layout of print edition: Françoise Pottier

Proofreading: Amy Shifflette and Joyce Mumford

The Asking the Right Questions: Gender and Nonviolence Consultation was made possible by the generous support of many individuals and donor agencies. Organizers and participants thank all of them and in particular the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peacebuilding and Good Governance Division; the conscientious objectors group in Madrid; Equity Trust; Mama Cash; PeaceFund Canada; Stichting FIC; and Stichting Leven in Aandacht.

In memoriam FannyAnn Eddy

Founder, Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association. Testified before the UN Commission on Human Rights. Murdered September 29, 2004, at the age of 30.


by Shelley Anderson

  • How can I adapt exercises from another country for use in my own community?
  • Where can I find practical information on gender and nonviolence in my own language?
  • How can we get men and boys involved in changing gender roles?

Like all good gatherings, the Asking the Right Questions international consultation on nonviolence training and gender raised more questions than it answered. More than 300 inquiries and application were received by the organizers of the consultation, indicating a high interest in the issue of gender-sensitive nonviolence training.

The goals of the consultation, established by a team of six organizers (Joanne Sheehan, Dorie Wilsnack, Ellen Elster and Casha Davis of the War Resisters International Women's Working Group; and Isabelle Geuskens and Shelley Anderson of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation's Women Peacemakers Program) included:

  • Breaking the isolation of women nonviolence trainers
  • Bridging the gaps between different cultures and social change movements (for example, global justice, youth, trade unions, development, etc.) and in particular between age generations of women trainers
  • Supporting women trainers in developing methodologies, materials and modules to integrate gender into their trainings
  • Exploring new ways of organizing and activism.


Asking the Right Questions was a collaborative effort between the International Fellowship of Reconciliation's (IFOR) Women Peacemakers Program and the War Resisters International (WRI). The consultation follows a long line of international anti-militarist women's gatherings organized by WRI, the last of which took also place in Thailand, in 1992.

The two organizations, both founded in the early 1900s, find common ground in their memberships' commitment to social change through active nonviolence. Some women in both organizations have also found another commonality: their skills and ideas are underutilized and ignored, exactly because they are women. In WRI's case, this led in the early 1970s to the establishment of the WRI Women's Working Group, which provides a space for women nonviolence trainers and activists to network. In IFOR's case, this led in 1997 to the establishment of IFOR's Women Peacemakers Program (WPP), which works to empower women both within IFOR and the wider peace movement through active nonviolence.

What resources do we need?

It was clear from the large number of applications received that Asking the Right Questions was answering a need. During the consultation nonviolence trainers identified a need for more information and practical training materials (especially videos and DVDs, training and resource manuals with exercises) on gender, while gender trainers requested more education and training materials (including case studies on successful nonviolent campaigns and actions; success stories on women peacebuilders, especially from Asia and Africa; and training manuals) on nonviolence. The need for materials in local languages, reflecting local contexts that demystified gender was equally clear. The emphasis from all trainers was on the very practical and on the very participatory.

Women's equality: the missing ingredient for peace

Most of the 35 women trainers from 25 countries who met at Asking the Right Questions shared a sense of pain and anger at the way women are treated within their organizations. This reflects the denial of women's rights within their larger societies. Peacebuilding, in their view, is inextricably linked to women's equality.

This premise was shared among participants from a wide variety of social movements and training backgrounds -- in peace education, youth work, human rights, anti-trafficking, gender, and nonviolence. In order to achieve women's equality empowerment is needed. During the consultation many trainers repeatedly pointed out a need to increase women's self-confidence, especially at the grassroots level, and particularly for rural women, girls and youth, women in villages and illiterate women.

Gender includes all of us

This need to empower women has many implications for training. There were repeated observations on the need to include in all trainings concerns and experiences of women themselves; examples of successful women's peace actions, and women roles models. Women, as peace researcher Cynthia Cockburn has pointed out, learn from women's lives.

Gender was a confusing concept for many of the participants. Practical exercises and materials that explained how gender impacts and involves everyone -- women, men, girls and boys -- were essential. How to involve the entire community, and men and boys in particular, in the struggle for equality, was a major issue for participants. How to deal with men's sense of being threatened or disempowered by a change in the power balance between women and men? Many trainers had experiences where the struggle for women's empowerment had resulted in a sometimes violent male backlash. Gender also includes relationships among women themselves, and many participants raised questions about the extent of solidarity between women.

Support is absolutely critical in women's work for social change. As one participant said, "You can do nothing alone." Most participants found support from close family and welcomed support from networks of like-minded activists and trainers. How to stay in touch with one another, and how to continue learning and sharing experiences and ideas, was an often-asked question during the consultation. This points towards the need for a network for women trainers (or for both women and men trainers) around the issue of gender and nonviolence.

The need for support includes another component. Many participants spoke about the need for more training and resources on how to heal the wounds of individuals and communities after systematic violence -- including violence against women during 'peace time' and the wounds inflicted by armed conflict. Healing in this context included trauma counselling (including feminist counselling), psycho-social support and reconciliation. Participants also spoke about the need to heal themselves from past violence -- one trainer specifically mentioned how the trainings she was doing were also helping to heal her own wounds.

This led to many discussions on ways to integrate spirituality into one's daily life and work, about avoiding or dealing with burn out, and about ways to retain and sustain one's own values and integrity. Many women found sustenance in a major world religion (Christianity, Buddhism and Islam were primarily mentioned). This was not unproblematic. Women rejected patriarchal interpretations of religion and were developing their own interpretations and analysis. They were outspoken in their criticism of religious extremism and the political manipulation of religion for political purposes. A few women rejected patriarchal religions outright and followed more goddess-oriented spiritual practices.

Gender is not the only factor in women's lives. More education and training materials that explore diversity issues such as ethnicity and race, in addition to gender, are needed. Training that examines globalization was also identified as a need.

After five intensive days of exchanging experiences and ideas, training methodologies and exercises, enthusiasm and questions, many participants asked perhaps one of the biggest questions: where do we go from here? Follow-up was built into the consultation from the beginning, as participants will provide important feedback in the development of gender-sensitive training materials. For many participants, staying in contact with each other as part of a network was also important.

Where do we go from here?

Dorie Wilsnack, former WRI Treasurer, former IFOR co-Interim International Coordinator, and long-time WRI Women's Working Group member, was part of the consultation's organizing team. She said, "The consultation's most important accomplishment was planting the seeds of a network. It was clear, even with the few trainers we brought together (given how many trainers there are), that having a link and communication internationally is quite important.

"The question we have to think about, from both the gender and the nonviolence camps, is the idea of bringing more of the other into the work is important. It's clear that more resources, manuals and tools that bring the two together is an exciting idea for people. It's also clear that we have to find a way to build a network. We need to ask what it is that makes successful networks really work. How to do this internationally is a real challenge. We need to ask others: are you part of other Internet networks that excite you to get the emails? What is the best kind of network of nonviolence women trainers? A network of trainers interested in linking gender and nonviolence? The Internet is one tool to do this but it isn't enough.

"Creative networking is one area that needs real brainstorming and strategy. We also need to think how to create resources on gender and nonviolence and how to spread the idea.

"Another tool to keep the network alive and promote the ideas and information is to tell personal stories. We need to collect women's training stories, both the nuts and bolts and what strategies you use, but also narratives that build the emotional links. How do you provide these important emotional links and the skills at the same time?

"Another question is how do you bring spirituality into your work? What are the deep roots of what I'm doing? What is it that motivates me to be a trainer -- what are the values that I'm trying to promote? It was clear that trainers need some opportunities for reflection.

"It's important to make sure we see the consultation as the beginning of something, not something in and of itself. We need to remember all the women who didn't get to come. How do we introduce them to the women who got to meet each other?"

IFOR and WRI are committed to following up the consultation. The work to integrate gender into nonviolence training, and nonviolence into gender training, has begun.


There was a welcoming ceremony on the evening of October 3. The ceremony began with a traditional northern Thai ritual, where strings were tied around each participant's wrist during a chant to bring our wandering spirits back. Dorie Wilsnack, former WRI Treasurer and former IFOR co-International Coordinator, then welcomed all present on behalf of the consultation's organizers. WRI Chairperson Joanne Sheehan and IFOR WPP Program Officer Shelley Anderson briefly introduced the organizing groups. Both IFOR and WRI were founded in the wake of World War I by Western pacifists determined to prevent future violence by providing alternatives to war. Both organizations now have a worldwide membership and are committed to active nonviolence and social transformation.

Ouyporn Khuankaew of the International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice, the local organizing group, gave a briefing on the situation in Thailand. While Thailand has many vibrant nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), there are very few women trainers in peace and nonviolence. Currently there is armed violence in southern Thailand, and daily violence against women. Violence against women is common, due to the patriarchal nature of Thai culture, and modernization and globalization are increasing the violence.

Back to the kitchen

"In Thailand, the government tries to deal with poverty by giving money to villages, which actually destroys village life," she said. The prevailing Buddhist belief is also used to support patriarchy. Many Thai women accept violence against them thinking that it is their karma -- that their negative actions in a previous life have resulted in violence against them in this life. Yet women are often the first to protest government plans to turn village farm land into golf courses or tourist resorts, or to protest the building of dams which will displace thousands of villagers. "Women take action first and stay active longer, and are in the front when the police come, but they start disappearing into the kitchen when the media come," Ouyporn said.

The International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWPPJ) began almost four years ago. They have conducted 10-week trainings with women activists from Thailand, Burma, Tibet, India and Cambodia in Buddhist peacebuilding; organized workshops in direct action, and conducted trainings in feminist trauma counseling. "We start from empowerment. We combine feminism and nonviolent action," said Ouyporn. Rather than seeing Buddhism as an obstacle to social change, the group promotes an engaged Buddhism that supports social transformation. "Many social movements do not have a spiritual practice. But when we talk of sustainability, it is not budgets or money that sustain, but the spirit," she said. The Buddhist teachings on interconnection and on impermanence offer hope, as they show that "oppressive situations can change," she said.

"The international community knows": The situation in Burma

This approach has changed many activists that IWPPJ works with, both in their personal life and in their work for justice. Hseng Noung is one such activist with the Women's League of Burma (WLB). She gave a presentation on the situation in this neighboring country. She belongs to the Shan people, one of the almost 40 ethnic groups that make up Burma. "It is sad to say that violence is an everyday issue in Burma, whether domestic violence or state violence perpetrated by the military." Burma has been suffering under military dictatorship and a civil war for over 40 years. The military dictatorship, called the State Peace and Democracy Committee (SPDC), is responsible for systematic human rights abuses such as forced labor and portering, rape, torture, forced relocations and extra-judicial killings.

"Burma has a population of 50 million people. There are about a million internally displaced people inside Burma, and about 120,000 in refugee camps along the Thai border, in addition to two million migrant workers from Burma inside Thailand. Some 2,000 to 3,000 people leave Burma every month, at least half of them women. They have lost their livelihood, and face extortion as they try to leave the country. The military junta buys tanks from the Ukraine, planes from Russia and guns from India and China. We (the WLB) try to find what can be done in our own way as a women's organization and how to use international mechanisms."

"The international community knows about these human rights violations and the systematic impunity. But the arms deals haven't stopped. It is very hard, but it is not only up to the people of Burma, not when there is such economic power behind international arms deals. Big nations only see business. We do not have much space to work inside the country, but in Thailand and India we try step by step. It is most important to empower the women to work for better change."

Improving Our Training

Joanne Sheehan and Dorie Wilsnack then led the group in several exercises. "As a nonviolence trainer," said Joanne, "I know how much my training improves when I share with other trainers. This sharing is one of the most important things I do. We are going to look at nonviolence and gender to see how we can do this together. Our long-range goal is to plant seeds and structures for the on-going empowerment of women trainers. What are the needs and resources we need together? We are going to look at how we can define the kinds of training we do, to see the similarities and the different perspectives, so our trainings can improve. Hopefully we will all go back with a bigger bag of tools."

The first exercise drew all participants into two circles, an inner circle and an outer circle. Facing each other, participants shared on a one-to-one basis their responses to questions like "What was your first experience as a participant in a training? What does being a trainer mean to you? What was your first experience as a trainer? What was your first experience with nonviolence? When did you first become aware of your gender?"

In the next exercise, each participant wrote down her name and then, on separate pieces of note paper, the types of training that she did. These were then categorized and placed on the walls, where all the participants could look at them, and talk with women who did the same type of training. The group had a broad range of experience, with training for economic literacy, women's empowerment, nonviolence, strategic development, anti-trafficking, awareness on HIV/AIDS, fundraising and more. The evening then closed.


Summary: How can a common base of understanding be created among activists coming from so many different movements and cultures? This was the challenge facing participants today. The discussions on definitions showed that women have many varying definitions and concerns, ranging from intensely personal to critical social analysis. One common denomination was an understanding of the destructiveness of violence against women, and a desire to learn from other women's experiences. "What we have in common is that we are all women-- and we all have suffered violence," said one participant. Learning that "gender isn't just about women" was important to many participants, as was learning how to deal with men's fears of changing gender roles.

"I held them accountable for my suffering": a story from Somalia

The day began in plenary session. Organizers introduced the consultation's aims and goals, reviewed the agenda and explained the methods that would be used for working together during the consultation. Each day would have a theme and would begin in a plenary session. The plenary would open with a personal story told by a participant. Next, a panel of selected participants would explore the day's theme.

Today's story was told by Sahro Mohamed, a young woman from Somalia now living in the Netherlands. "I am so honored to be here today, to experience this wonderful opportunity. It's very important for me to be here so I can take the knowledge I gain here back home to the women I represent.

"I begin with a poem, as it's important for me to write down my thoughts. This poem is called I Am.

I Am

I will make no excuses for being a woman A woman, a woman the woman I am I will make no excuses for being

an opinionated female A lady, the lady I will make no excuses for my curved femininity. I will not make excuses for being

the woman I become.

"When I was 10 years old I experienced a war. I hesitated to tell this story because if there is anything I do not want to be, it is to be seen as a victim. I'm not here to create a negative picture of my culture, but as long as a cultural practice creates harm to a human being, it should be told.

"I was born in Somalia. I fled with my parents from Mogadishu to a neighboring town, where we took shelter in a school. Suddenly men with a lot of guns came into the school, and my parents were killed. That hurt me so much. It began my hatred for Somali men because I held them accountable for a lot of my suffering. My fight for women's rights began.

"I came to the border of Kenya with a lot of other children and women, taken out of Mogadishu by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). I met Corinne, an African-American woman working with refugees. She adopted me and we lived in Kenya with her son. I went to school. She taught me a lot of things, like to believe in myself. Corinne had to go back to the United States. She could not officially adopt me. When I was 18 I followed her to the US, but while transferring at Schipol Airport (in the Netherlands) I fell down. I had malaria and they would not let me proceed.

"In hospital I met a social worker who advised me to take asylum in the Netherlands. I did. I have no regrets. I believe in God. I believe that there was a reason why I was directed to go to the Netherlands. Corinne has been in the Netherlands to see me.

"I came to the Netherlands six and a half years ago. I am studying cultural anthropology, specifically gender violence. I will go to Africa to document crimes of violence against women in times of war. I want to find out how many crimes go to justice, and why not. I'm the secretary of the Somali Women's Association in the Netherlands. We help women integrate into that society, not taking over Dutch values, but to find your way and to lead an independent life. We help kids with homework, design projects for little girls to become conscious of their skills. We educate the world, men and women, about female genital mutilation (FGM) -- which is the worst thing that can overcome a woman.

"FGM is a cultural practice. There are two kinds. The old way is called Pharaonic -- it was done in the times of the Pharaohs in Egypt, when men used women slaves as sexual toys. Men thought if they made the woman's genital opening smaller they would have more pleasure.

"The second way is clitoridectomy -- a more modern tradition, the result of international and regional pressure to modify the practice. This is more humane in Somali men's eyes. You cut bits of the clitoris, and don't stitch it, so it won't grow. In Somalia and Sudan the clitoris is seen as a very bad thing. Infibulation -- cutting off the entire clitoris and stitching it all up, leaving a tiny hole the size of a match stick -- is also practiced. There are always problems as a result of this form of circumcision, problems with menstruation, urinating, delivery of a baby, sex.

"I am going to read another poem, this time about marriage, the time when defibulation occurs, when her husband starts to beat her.

Of Girls and Women (excerpts)

"As a child why should a girl of six have a voiceless child with no power to resist Being scarred for life why should mother be assigned to be second or third or fourth wife because she isn't tight? What makes a woman complete, only giving birth to a son, she becomes Westernized, a bitch, a pagan.

"We use two visual models of the vagina to educate people about FGM, one circumcised, one not. We have made an impact. We are trying to create a law against FGM. France is the only European country with such a law. Every summer a woman comes from Italy [to the Netherlands] to circumcise girls behind closed doors for 3,000 euros. We find out when she comes and work together with police and social workers to try and stop it. We want to make this issue discussible among Somalis themselves. Men do come to our discussions. We are finally hearing from women themselves. Women were suffering in silence, as result of the diaspora and the war.

"There are many Somali women organizations in Europe, at least seven in the Netherlands, united in fighting this. Some women have been threatened, because men will not marry a woman who is not circumcised. It is a slow process but we are beginning and we are seeing the fruits of our work."


The first day's panel, facilitated by Saswati Roy (of the nongovernmental organization Swadhini, India) consisted of Veasna Am (Cambodia), with Sarom Sek translating from Cambodian into English, and Okama Ekpe-Brook (Nigeria, working in Sri Lanka).

Veasna Am is Executive Director of Women Peacemakers, and a nonviolence trainer who works for women's and children's rights protection. Sarom works with the Dhammayietra (Peace Walk) in Cambodia, while Okama is from Nigeria. She has worked in Thailand and Laos, and is now in Sri Lanka with the United Nations, working with 50 volunteers in human rights and humanitarian aid.

The importance of support

"I am a gender trainer and the concept of nonviolence is quite new to me. How have I tried to integrate nonviolence into my gender trainings?" Okama began. "We are still trying to integrate a gender perspective in training, so I ask you this question, too. How can we marry these two concepts together?

"I will start with some definitions I found while searching the Internet and in dictionaries. Gender is about social roles which give men more power over women. Sexism is about the categorization of a person's status as male or female. There are different categories of sexual identities and sexual preferences. This gives some problems: are we talking about a genetic status or a social level applied to us by our birth certificates when we are born a woman or a man? Sexual preference refers to a preference for the same or opposite sex partner. There is a distinction again between a sex object and someone one builds a relationship with. Gender role refers to a person's understanding of their social role.

I was born a feminist

"I think I was born a feminist. Feminism is both a social theory and the political movement primarily informed by women who are promoting women's rights, interests and issues. In this promotion of women's rights for women and by women, one challenge is how women working for women can engage men in forwarding women's rights. Violence describes behavior that causes injury to people. Violence can be very subtle and unrecognized, and be sexual, physical or economic. Violence can be done with community assistance, or random, but it affects individuals, families and communities, in public or private. Violence can range from small-scale acts to coordinated violence, like war or terrorist acts. Again, some forms of violence are socially sanctioned. Different societies apply different standards.

"Nonviolence is a set of assumptions about morality, power and conflict. Sometimes it is used as a synonym for pacifism. Since the 20thcentury two examples of nonviolence are frequently given: Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Some advocates of nonviolence emphasize respect and love. I try to use this in my gender work. We don't listen very well to others, don't go into dialogue with open minds. With this technique we can go into discussions and come out with concrete results.

"Power is central in this definition. In nonviolence theory, power depends on cooperation with others. Power becomes less, or can be undermined, if we do not cooperate. In Sri Lanka the rulers are those in uniform with guns. In our gender trainings in Sri Lanka we try to integrate nonviolence by telling people that uniforms do not necessarily contribute to one's power. Our gender trainings try to promote empowerment, or having control over decisions in one's life. In Sri Lanka we only look at economic empowerment, not other types of empowerment. Lastly a definition of training: the process of transferring skills to do things.

"I'm going to tell a personal story now, and I hope you can give me some advice. Years ago I was physically assaulted in Sri Lanka. I refused to dance with a high ranking military man at a club, and he got angry and punched me. It took hours to even get his name. The police were reluctant to act. I did not get the support I needed from my work, and the witness and his family was harassed and threatened. I got letters saying 'we know where you are.' The incident got misreported in the media. I was feeling vulnerable and let down and I made the decision to let it go. In the long run I don't know if justice could have happened anyway. I could have left the country, but by staying there, by giving testimony of what happened to me, I have become a thorn to those who didn't do anything.

"I discovered that when gender violence happens to a woman, regardless of their organization or employment, there is no implementation of gender policies. How do you deal with this as a trainer working on violence against women? You have to choose your entry points. You have to make sure the person who is victimized isn't further victimized in the process of seeking justice. You try to strategically remove the victim from the immediate situation, you try the media and the courts. In my case it was important to deal with the trauma. I had allies all around me, even in the government. So I now try to integrate this into my training -- the importance of having support. It is important to do confidence building and networking because the person violated may not even have the confidence to talk to another person," Okama concluded.

Okama later facilitate a workshop on Training for Victims of Personal Violence. This looked at ways of surviving painful experiences, in particular of gender-based violence.


After a break the panel continued with a presentation by Veasna Am. "I will focus on what happened in Cambodia's bitter history," she began. "During the Khmer Rouge (KR) period from 1975 until 1979, half of the population was killed or starved. In 1979 the country was liberated and former KR became refugees living along the border areas. In 1998 a formal government came into power. The KR is being reintegrated now. Many former KR living in the forest are illiterate. Since they were born they were trained to kill. They have no education, they just make their living cutting trees or working in the forest. I have a simple definition of nonviolence in Cambodia: non-harming.

"In terms of violence, there are three kinds. The first is physical violence. We can all see this type of violence. Harder to see but very dangerous are two other kinds of violence: structural violence and cultural violence. In Cambodia there is a lot of confusion about the term gender, but we say it means equal participation in society.

"In Cambodia when we talk of gender we mostly focus on women. If there are too few women at a meeting, someone will say, we are not gender sensitive! We just focus on the number of women involved. We get confused. Some say gender and sex is the same. Sexism is hard for us -- women are portrayed as objects to be violated physically or spiritually. Feminism we define as the philosophy or political force that gives expression to women's voice for cooperating in society. The most difficult definition for us is power. What is power all about? In our traditional thinking, power is not for all, only one group of people can have power. The definition of empowerment is similar to that of nonviolence: respect for other people.

"We try to give people confidence to do something useful for society. For us training is a place for people to share, to give and take. We have Cambodian trainers, but they use lots of English words, though we do have a specific Khmer word for nonviolence. In Cambodia, people don't have knowledge but do have experience. We use pictures and role-plays to help people understand what we are doing.

We thought men were stronger than women

"I would like to share now our own experience with active nonviolence training. My work is mostly with people who lost their land, because the powerful take the land from the people. I also deal with the fishery issue in Cambodia. When we first provided training about resisting land grabbing, we forgot about the process. Many women came to our training. We thought that men were stronger than women, especially when fighting economic power structures. We trained men, but we forgot about women. Yet many times women are very brave. When people struggle with the police or government, sometimes men want to fight back violently, but women will try to persuade people, to talk politely to them. It was a turning point for me, seeing this, how men forgot their training. I want to train women, as women have another way.

"Now we focus on inviting women to our trainings and we have gender issues in our trainings. When women participate in our training, it is very powerful. We see that women can lead in social change. We face many problems in Cambodia. Nonviolence is a new concept and the government doesn't accept us. We have to work underground; when I go to villages, I say I am a student. I hide my identity, because the government can kick me out or injure me. Now it's not many, but more people try to respect women. Yet most feel women should stay in the kitchen; women are born for men or for feeding your children.

"But we say women can do something. Women must have more respect for themselves. There is no domestic violence law to protect women. Less than 10 percent in Parliament are women. Many NGOs are trying to draft a law against domestic violence, but they can't change Parliament because many parliamentarians beat their wives. If there is a law, they will be the first to go to jail.

"Cambodians are taught in school that women are inferior. That's why there is so much domestic violence. Men think they are the leaders. Men fear that in the future they may lose power over the family. So they do everything they can to prevent this from happening. In the family, if you have a daughter and a son, the son gets the education. If the daughter finishes high school, the family will not allow her to go on to university. This happens especially in the countryside where girls who want to continue study or work are not allowed. They must stay at home and take care of husband and children. Also, in remote areas, there are few schools, and schools are far apart. When girls walk to school, they are raped. This is a very bad problem in Cambodia now," concluded Veasna.

The panelists took questions from the audience. Many questions asked for more background information. Veasna was asked about women's roles in the Khmer Rouge and how women's reintegration is proceeding. "During the Khmer Rouge period we were all equal. We were all slave labor," Veasna said. "After only a few days of giving birth, women had to go back to work in the rice field. We were all equal. After the Khmer Rouge we women had to go back to the kitchen."


Okama gave a briefing about the conflict in Sri Lanka.

"It's a two decade long conflict, based on ethnic grounds," she explained. "There is a Sinhalese majority, with Tamils and Muslims in the minority. There was large discrimination against Tamils, in the north, and it got so bad that Tamils were prevented from going to schools or having positions of power. Rebel groups developed, including the LTTE or Tamil Tigers, who want an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. There have been different negotiations. There is a cease fire agreement, brokered by Norway, which was progressing successfully until last year, when the Tamil Tigers felt their demands were not being taken into consideration. They pulled out of peace talks in April 2003.

"Although there is a female president in Sri Lanka, there is little interest in empowering women or in social development. The President and the Prime Minister (PM) belong to different parties. When the cease fire had problems, the President decided to get involved, as the PM was involved. The President took over three government ministries, dissolved parliament, and called for elections in April 2004. To win she went into alliance with the strong JVP party. The government is composed of two minority groups and unable to move ahead with peace plans.

"There are many other factors, including religion. The Sinhalese are mostly Buddhist. Buddhist monks feel threatened now as their religion is losing prominence. Monks have formed a political party and now are in Parliament. Women are hardly involved in the peace process, which is falling apart. Although women are over 50 percent of the population, there are less than 5 percent women in parliament, 3.4 percent in provincial councils, less in local councils. Women have a high suicide rate. There is a debate now if this is related to sexual harassment in homes. While there is high literacy, violence against women is increasing. Sometimes I feel very sad. We have no data on human development in the north. Women are a strong force in the rebel movement and are combatants. In essence, the situation is very poor for women. In integrating nonviolence into gender work, peace cannot be sustained without the involvement of women. I see that in Sri Lanka, where the largest segment in society -- women -- hasn't been involved.

Violence against women: an obstacle to development

"The UN is looking at how to combine programs with the struggle against violence against women. We've decided to use the country's constitution, which preaches gender equality. Sri Lanka has signed the Treaty on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and has also adopted a women's charter, on how to eradicate violence against women. So women have a right to education, to protection from gender based violence, to an economic life. But this gets blurred, because in our trainings we target the heads of households -- and men are the heads of households in Sri Lanka. One entry point is working with war widows, or female headed households, when you provide trainings. The ones who apply such training in day to day activities are women, so we could target war widows, especially in using the approach of nonviolence, which is more effective when used with women. In real empowerment we have to look beyond just offering an opportunity of participation. We have to ensure that when women do participate, that their voices are heard -- and also in actually monitoring and evaluating these programs.


The reaction of men to women's empowerment was an important issue for many participants.

Veasna asked, "I learned from you that you try to get more women in trainings. This gives new value to women, so women have new respect for themselves. Yet men feel they are losing power. How do you tackle this? We get some reactions like this. In our culture women are second class, so now we must empower women as leaders. It is very hard to persuade men to help and try to give them a picture of a future where men and women cooperate. We try to make a picture of a woman with a thousand hands, to show how hard women work in the home, and to say that women can also help in changing the system. It is hard for men when women go out to work or join social activities. Now men have to do some housework and this is hard for them to accept. But we ask men to give women a chance! When they succeed and get a good result, it is encouraging."

Saswati added, "When training people for empowerment, there is also a threat of a violent reaction when men feel threatened. It is a difficult job but we must incorporate in our gender empowerment also nonviolence work. What works well in your training, and what doesn't work?"

Okama said, "In our gender training, one of the most useful tools has been working at the family level. We need to get to the family as a whole. Usually gender training targets the woman, but in so doing we start to create gaps between husband and wife. The whole family must be involved in awareness building. Once this is established, then we can work with women to go to a higher level.

"Another tool I use is the concept of love for others, which is a nonviolent concept. When I was violated I was very angry and wanted revenge. When I become reconciled with myself, the other person has learned something. Maybe this will influence his behavior in the future. We should try to forgive, to love the other person and put yourself in their position. Do to them as you wish they would do unto you.

"Tolerance is another useful tool. The impulse is to just go with women, but we need to understand the threat men face and bring them along. We cannot accomplish gender equality without bringing men into it, and the qualities of nonviolence like tolerance and forgiveness. It is very challenging."

Saswati raised another issue. "You said that power is from the few to the many. For us, power is a most hated word. Please elaborate on your definition of power sharing. When one person is alone we don't know if she is powerful, but if she is with other people, we see clearly she has power. In our training [in India] we say power is with a group. We work with illiterate women in villages. We think it is better to work with women in groups, as as individuals they have little self-confidence. They come together, train together, work together and this gives them an immense sense of power. Many women have never seen a train or bus in their life, forget about a doctor or electricity. As a group they work together, with the idea of sharing the value of nonviolence. This binds them together and makes them stronger."


The plenary session broke into smaller groups, to discuss more in depth the issues that came up during the panel, in particular definitions of the key concepts. Saswati concluded, "Our fight is against society. We have learned from the definitions of gender we heard that gender is all socially constructed. Society is us and the people around us, so when we look at our definitions we must also look at our role in supporting and changing these definitions."

The small group discussions were lively as participants actively shared their experiences and challenges.

In one small group, Ia (Georgia) asked, "We work with parliament, with grassroots people and students. How do others work?" Ouyporn (Thailand) said, "When we work in Cambodia the problem we face is an understanding of nonviolence as patience and passivity. But that is a misunderstanding of nonviolence and of Buddhism. The government says nonviolence means 'you listen to me, submit a letter and wait.' How are you dealing with the misunderstanding of Buddhism and nonviolence as just waiting and praying?

Group members responded that in their experience, too, nonviolence was often misinterpreted as passive resistance. This is why many always added the word active in front of nonviolence, to show that nonviolence is a constructive and vital response.

The need for both women-only trainings and mixed gender trainings was discussed. One participant said in her country [the Netherlands] feminism was considered passe and women-only trainings old-fashioned. The fight for women's emancipation was popularly considered won, although this was far from the case.

Shelley (USA/Netherlands) pointed out the research of British sociologist Cynthia Cockburn, who found that women respond most readily to the experiences and insights of other women. It was thus critically important for women to have their own space in order to learn from other women.

Women learn from women's lives. Women's lives are different in many ways from those of men. Women's characteristic life experience gives them a potential for two things: a very special kind of intelligence, social intelligence; and a very special kind of courage, social courage. The courage to cross the lines drawn between us -- which are also lines drawn inside our own heads. And the intelligence to do it safely and productively. [from The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict, 1998, Zed Books, London and New York. By Professor Cynthia Cockburn, Department of Sociology, City University, London.]

In another small group, many different types of violence were identified. These included cultural, physical, emotional and psychological violence. Violence could manifest itself in many forms, including domestic violence, structural violence, injustice, war, discrimination, deprivation, racism and a lack of equality.

Appearing non-threatening to an opposition group could be problematic: in cases of affirmative action or mass actions for justice, any attempt to shift the power balance or to ensure equality could be seen as a threat. Whether or not activists should then compromise depends on the situation.

This group wanted to see the definition of power include the recognition of needs. Disadvantaged groups gain some power via solidarity groups and the support they receive from outsiders. This can at times be exploited by the disadvantaged groups. Power differences and the abuse of power positions is also violence. The perpetuation of violence must also be looked at -- while British colonialism helped create the current violence in Burma, it is also being perpetrated by the Burmese elite. People in a position of power should share power and be modest -- they can use their position to influence a situation either positively or negatively.

The group cautioned that a distinction must be made between training and teaching.

Several questions arose about gender. For example, why is it sometimes easier for women to comprehend gender concepts than men? Why do men feel threatened by women's emancipation? Men often cannot listen to information about gender because they become too defensive.

After lunch, the first series of afternoon sessions took place. These sessions, each facilitated by a participant, involved small group discussions to share definitions, noting differences and similarities.

Each small group listed the highlights of their discussion. As part of the commitment to supporting women's training skills, participants were asked to make time at the end of every workshop to give the facilitator constructive feedback about her facilitation during the workshop. Some of the discussions focused on what participants needed in terms of definitions, workable concepts and tools; and on the participants deepening insights into gender and nonviolence. Many questions remained. The needs included (from Group 1):

  • An easy translation of the word gender that involves three factors: its fundamental role in relationships; that it is socially constructed; and that different relationships are possible.
  • While the concept of gender is good, and allows for political choices and change, strategies are needed. How do you 'sell' gender? What are the socially constructed roles we are talking about? How does gender take form?
  • The issues involved in gender include power relations, social/economic status; culture, ethnicity, sexism and feminism. Does this mean gender is only a female issue?
  • What are the grounds of sisterhood? Does solidarity exist? How do we cultivate and nurture it?
  • How can we challenge the power structures without political action? We need to influence policy: how do we work on gender mainstreaming? How to get a male alliance in gender? Gender is not the only thing that defines women.
  • Emancipation: what does it mean to me? How do we overcome sexism?
  • We need to find the core of nonviolence. It is a way of life. Nonviolence must also be a political movement. Patience is a revolutionary virtue. There is a line from passivity to non-violent direct action: what's in the middle? Respect for self and others. Nonviolence is a process, from personal transformation to political action to a constructive program. [In this group a triangle was shown, with the three points being victim, perpetrator and observer, along with a grid from Michael Nagler: three responses to increasing dehumanization were shown: conflict resolution; satyagraha [a term Gandhi used to describe the power of truth and inner strength]; and sacrifice.

[from Group 2]

  • Gender means men and women; social role; transgender; disadvantaged group; cultural identity; traditional; religious perspective/practice; economic; political; defined from birth; different experiences; empowerment; rights; personal identity; all defined by stereotypes.
  • Power means influence over another. There are different types of power: power over; power under; sharing power (linked to modesty). Power comes from position; knowledge/education; decision making; power to define; beauty; experience; wealth/possessions; cooperation; need; privilege; sex; friends/connection; unity; rights/ equal rights; gun/uniforms; authority; family; culture; age; wisdom; confidence; and modesty.
  • Training means new skills; new information; shared learning environment; change of perception; self-evaluation; growth; learning while doing; awareness raising; transforming skills and information. Training involves group work; learning practical applications; increase capacity and confidence; and good training results in better clarity and approach; practice; learning/ teaching methodology; give and take; individual and institutional; challenge our limitations; motivation for further learning; training for creativity.
  • Violence can be domestic; structural; injustice; war; unhappiness; discrimination; depravation; racism; cultural; physical; emotional; lack of equality; lack of rights (such as reproductive or human rights); tradition; subtle; thoughts; manipulation; sexual (rape); intentional limiting of potential; segregation; lack of possibility/ opportunity to reach high/highest position; poverty; fear; self harm; insecurity.
  • Nonviolence means love, loving kindness; peaceful; non-threatening; constructive; respect; respect for others' values; redemptive love; relationship; dialogue; compromise ; understanding the others' side; willingness to listen; forgiveness; compassion; strong will; resisting the action not the person; reaching higher level of understanding; tolerance; spiritual; intolerance of injustice; transformation; creating safe space; seek for truth; positive change; positive approach; active; redemptive suffering; communal-working together; commitment; not violent; nature of force -- not harming; trust in humankind; emphasis on means as well as ends.

[from Group 3] The Francophone group consisted of seven women, from Burundi, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Macedonia, Madagascar and Rwanda.


  • Force transformatrice
  • Opposition à la violence (ce n'est pas la passivité); force active; affirmation de soi (notion de pouvoir; notion empowerment); mode de vie; être positive;
  • Positif: la verité, affirmation de la paix.
  • Confrontation/analyse de conflit qui aboutit à la communication positive; mène à la transformation du conflit; se mettre ensemble pour nommer le conflit/ pour trouver une solution. Tolérance, compassion, non jugement.
  • Non-séparation: identification/empathie avec l'autre, se mettre à la place de l'ennemi; respect de l'autre; pro-active (NON réagir, NON absence de conflit)
  • Pratique de la NV: résoudre les problèmes sans avoir recours à la violence; faire gagner les deux parties; s'attaquer aux causes et pas aux acteurs
  • Respect de soi et d'autrui, l'équilibre entre les deux; lutte contre l'injustice; tempo, stratégie d'action


  • L'effort que je consens à faire quotidiennement pour changer une situation (ce n'est pas une utopie)
  • C'est une éthique
  • Attitude globale, attitude cosmique.


  • But de la notion, équilibre, tolérance entre l'homme et la femme; respect;
  • Voir les differences au niveau social, structurel, emotionelle entre hommes/femmes. Non biologique essentiellement mais culturelle; notion militantiste et scientifique
  • Distinction arbitraire d'étiquetage en fonction du caractère biologique = descriminatoire et limite. Statut, capabilité (gamme!)
  • Question I: la notion de genre est-elle automatiquement péjorative? Genre: égalité de chances et d'opportunités/ accès entre l'homme et la femme.
  • Du départ, en francais notion grammaticale et tard = discrimination / déséquilibre de la femme par l'homme.

Genre: pas biologique (seulement)

  • Socialisation patriarcale. "On ne nait pas femme, on le devient": dévalorisation culturelle de la femme
  • Différences constatées culturellement et action de conscientisation afin de lutter contre ces différences.
  • Priorité de l'action nonviolente
  • Le genre est différent du sexe.
  • Valeur culturelle attribuée.

[from group 4] This workshop began with the facilitator sharing her own definition of non-violence: Any action that supports the sanctity of life and recognizes the inherent value and sacredness of all living things. Nonviolence also means opportunities to develop one's own potential.

"When we kill animals or plants to eat them, is that violent?" asked a participant. No, responded another participant, "because holy books of religions say you can kill if you do it in specific ways and for your own needs." The facilitator said she felt eating meat was nonviolent if "you do it with reverence, that you recognize that other animals and plants give their life to nourish us."

"I look at nonviolence as any action or way of life that recognizes, protects or promotes human dignity. Nonviolence respects and preserves peoples' sense of space and well being," said a third participant.

In English the word nonviolence "is a negative thing due to the prefix 'non' -- so I like to add that it is not just not doing something, not an omission, but something positive. Our definition should incorporate something about resistance." "It's as if we would call ourselves non-men. What this shows to me is how deeply rooted violence is in the English language," agreed a participant.

In Sanskrit, explained another participant, there is the word ahimsa, or non-harming, which contains the meaning of an internal force that gives power. "The interpretation is that it is not a passive force," she said. Some definitions of nonviolence deal with this by using the phrase empowered action. In Latin America the phrase for nonviolence translates as relentless persistence.

"When I go back to my situation at home [in India], I see a lot of violations taking place. I would like to see nonviolence defined as a behavior, action or attitude to respond to a situation that helps to move things in a positive direction by respecting, nourishing and valuing one's personality or dignity. Nonviolence supports the resources necessary to support life. It is a way of life that recognizes, promotes and protects human dignity. In Buddhism nonviolence might translate as compassionate action or charitable action."

The group then moved to defining violence. One definition was the capacity or action to inflict physical harm or death, to punish by restricting freedom, to withhold resources, to inflict mental, emotional or psychological harm.

Was violence always intentional? There was some discussion on how bystanders may be genuinely ignorant of structural violence. There is unconscious structural violence, such as acts of daily racism, where pain is inflicted by an oppressor without knowing s/he is inflicting pain. "We all have to accept responsibility for our capacity for violence," said one participant. "Johan Galtung's definition of violence is 'an avoidable insult to human dignity' -- or to the value of creation."

Cooperation with violence is violence, said another participant. Violence could not survive without our cooperation, even when the violence done also harms the perpetrator.

Gender was defined as the socially constructed identity based on perceived biological sex.

Gender is always biased, maintained a participant, because as a social construction it implies women have lesser status compared to men. It depends on black and white thinking about what is male/female, and elaborates power inequalities between men and women. "Gender elaborates the power inequalities between the sexes -- it's not just the socially constructed identities, but the power inequalities between men and women. Sometimes society makes men more powerful, but sometimes the female is powerful," said a participant. "What societies exist where women have more power than men? Can you tell me?" challenged a participant.

"I am trying to make gender less threatening to men," was the response. "Women are becoming strong, and men are saying 'women are oppressing us now'. Men and women can be gender insensitive. It's imbalance, not just power."

"But men are saying this because they are losing privileges! Is losing privileges real violence?" said another woman.

Another activist gave an example from her country. "In Sierra Leone we campaigned for a 30 percent quota for women at the local election. And men said this is gender violence against them. So the government gives micro credit to women now, but men are still in control. What we see is access, not control. Men still have the control of decision making.

"We need different treatment and approaches to men based on gender. In five refugee camps in Sierra Leone we are implementing work against gender-based violence (GBV). Our big question is how to deal with the male perpetrators? When we mainstreamed men in the GBV work, they said one of the roots of violence is illiteracy. So they create an adult literacy program which was actually an income-generation project for the men, because they rejected having women teachers."

"This is an example of the misuse of gender," said another participant. "In Nicaragua a women's group working on violence against women was denied funding by an international donor, because the donor said they didn't have a gender perspective -- because they didn't work with men. But it was women who needed the attention and support first, because they were the ones being beaten to death! This is cooptation -- gender concepts being used by those in power so they will stay in power."

Sexism refers to a system of oppression based on gender and the belief that women are inferior to men. It is based on biological sex -- on perceived identity -- and oppressive roles based on power over women.

Others argued for a more open definition of sexism, whereby one sex is superior to the other, a system of oppression based on the belief that one sex is more human than the other. "In my community [in Indonesia] gender is the expectation about the roles and behaviour of boys and girls," said a participant.

"Biologically we're more complicated than we thought," commented one woman. "In Kosovo a boy was born with very, very small genitals. He was treated as a boy, but then he started to menstruate. Biology made his life extremely complicated, and then society made it worse. There are people born with genitals of one sex, but feel intensely that they are of the other sex. It's dichotomy thinking, to think in such either/or terms."


Power was the key in both definitions of gender and sexism, as both involved control and decision-making power. Some women said that participants in their trainings often had a very negative reaction to the word power, based on their experiences of being abused by those in power. "Political power is so much misused, we think about it in terms of control, politicians taking control, even in the homes. It has very negative connotations," said a Kenyan participant. Other trainers agreed.

In the Philippines, however, because of the Peoples Power nonviolent movement that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship, whenever the word power is used, even among children, the image is one of power through people's cooperation.

There were different definitions of power (with both constructive and destructive potential) and different kinds of power: power over (domination), power with (what we have when we work collectively, in a group), and power within (power inside each of us). Power was defined variously as:

  • The opportunity to make your dreams come true
  • Having control over your own life and making your own decisions
  • Power is about who gets what (a classic political science definition)-- or who determines who gets what
  • Driving force, energy that motivates one to develop or move
  • Having your own space
  • The ability to act/allow others to act
  • Empowerment: the process of recognizing, appreciating and nourishing, experiencing, and trusting our power within.

"I have trouble with this word [empowerment], and with the word reconciliation," said a participant. "Those with power over others say 'we will empower you'. According to this definition you can't do that. I think it's being coopted."

"Or donors say 'We will empower the women,'" agreed another participant, from Sierra Leone. "For me empowering is a two-way process, giving and taking. In empowerment we also recognize that we are also different. Empowerment is a process -- and it doesn't mean we all have the same thinking, background and strategies."

The group's definition of empowerment is "not the banking model, but the calling out model of empowerment. The 'banking' model of power leaves one person (the giver) with more power than the receiver. In banking -- I deposit something in you, I give, you receive, which leaves me in a position of power. Whereas the calling out is more in your definition. Power is a give and take process, recognizing our differences. 'We' cannot empower 'you'. I want to see a definition that appreciates everyone's uniqueness and challenges women to work as a team. For this women have to learn to appreciate and value themselves. Empowerment is a collective process that includes building the capacity to value and esteem oneself and others," responded another participant.

The exploration of empowerment led to other issues. There is a perception that women are their own enemies, one participant pointed out. This challenges us as women, to work together, so empowerment is also about the need to reconcile with yourself, appreciate yourself. Because if you think there is nothing in you then you can't work together as a group.

"We had our first female presidential candidate in our election in Sierra Leone," a participant said, giving an example. "In the process she forgot about the women populace. She got 0.05 percent of the vote. She disempowered herself by stepping on other women. You cannot get the power alone. For women our greatest weapon is in our numbers. But this means women must know what they want -- and someone to represent them. We want to be big cotton trees, not just grassroots. So empowerment is very important in our solidarity struggle."

"In the Somali women's movement, because we have been empowering each other, working together as a team, we have been able to get 35 seats in parliament, since the first president was elected after the war. It's a start. We had to really fight hard for this," said another participant.

An evaluation of the workshop was held, in particular of the facilitator's practice. On the positive side, the facilitator "called us by our names, wrote our words down, gave us the confidence to talk more." "She drew us out." Her use of the flip chart board, in writing down key words and definitions, was rated good. There was discussion about her choice of giving her definition of the key words first. The consensus was that it might have been more useful to elicit some words from the participants first.


At the end of the afternoon participants gathered again in small groups to reflect on what questions they have learned to ask. "I find gender a very confusing issue," said one participant. "What I learned today was that you need to learn how others perceive and define this concept." "It's been very good to be in such mixed groups," said another woman. "We are learning from each other and from our different cultures." Participants found the day's work "very comprehensive" but "it is too early to think about what resources do we need". Learning that gender encompassed relationships between women, relationships between men and relationships between women and men was an eye-opener for many participants.

Other questions that were identified included:

  • What is effective training and how do we differentiate between training and teaching?
  • What are effective methodologies for trainings?
  • How do we evaluate effective training?
  • What is solidarity and does it exist amongst women?
  • How do we work on gender mainstreaming? What levels (personal, community, political) do we need to take into consideration in gender mainstreaming?
  • How do we mobilize male allies for gender mainstreaming?

Resources that were identified included:

  • Questions for evaluations
  • Annotated contact lists/human resources networks
  • Experiences from the very diverse group to take back
  • Specific case studies
  • Directories and surveys of peace organizations in different regions, as produced by the European centre for Conflict Prevention, PO Box 14069, 3508 SC Utrecht, the Netherlands. Email: info@conflict- Web:
  • The potential for setting up a list server on nonviolence and gender.

A cultural sharing, organized by Suseela Mathew (India), ended the evening. All the participants were asked to bring a piece of cloth. One by one, each woman laid the cloth on the floor and explained where the cloth came from, and why it was meaningful to her. A colourful mosaic soon formed, with some women sharing tie-dyed or batiked cloth from women's income generation projects, or a piece of crocheted work made by a participant's mother. Some women shared their own dresses or an article of baby's clothing. Suseela concluded the sharing by giving each woman a handkerchief she had brought from India.


Summary:After exploring definitions and their commonalties and differences yesterday, the work on day two was devoted to sharing training techniques and methodologies. While participants conducted a wide variety of training, from economic literacy to preparation for direct nonviolent action, they all shared a common understanding that without peace, development and gender equality were impossible. In addition to this awareness was the understanding that women's empowerment was inextricably linked to the empowerment of the entire community. Community-owned agendas, flexible training programs that responded to the real needs of participants, and highly participatory methodologies were repeatedly emphasized as essential parts of any successful training. How to include men in creating change was a primary concern of many of the trainers present.

It was clear that many participants were confused about gender and wanted more information, especially practical and concrete ways to integrate gender into their trainings. Some very experienced nonviolence trainers acknowledged that it was only recently that they had begun to think about how gender influences their training, and how they can integrate gender into their trainings. Much uncertainty was expressed about exactly what gender is. Much pain was also expressed as women shared stories of discrimination and gender injustice within their own organizations. Other participants were already gender trainers and were interested in how to integrate nonviolence into their gender trainings.


The day began with Mai Jan, an activist from Burma, telling her personal story.

"I want to thank the International Women's Partnership for Peace for making it possible for me to be here. I am with the Women's League of Burma's women's peacebuilding team. My husband is Shan and I am Kachin [these are two of Burma's many ethnic groups]. I work with the pro-democracy movement of Burma. I go back and forth [across the Thai-Burma border] to give peacebuilding training. Last year I did a nonviolence training for the first time," she said.

"There are 30 armed ethnic resistance groups in Burma. My father was a famous soldier for Kachin independence. He was a fighter, now I'm a peace builder. I was born in the jungle during the civil war. My mother was fleeing our village, which was attacked by Burmese military. If my parents had been caught they would have been tortured and killed, so they fled to the jungle to survive. There were no refugee camps then in Kachin state, no schools, so the jungle was our refugee camp.

"It was hard to get education. There was no more school after grade four, so I was sent to a town under the control of the Burmese military. If the government knew who my parents were I would be kidnapped or killed. So I learned to lie. I said I was a parentless child.

"There is a very big problem in Burma between the ethnic groups and the Burmans. All the armed groups are fighting for freedom and independence. This struggle started after Burma's independence in 1948. Our history taught us how to hate Burmans [the majority ethnic group in Burma which dominates the government and military, at the expense of other ethnic groups]. The new generation was trained to hate. We were taught that nationalism means to love the nation and hate other nations, especially the Burmans. So when I was young I hated Burmans a lot. I was never in touch with them, but I hated them. As a child I learned that their failure is our success. I was very happy when my father's troops had military victories, happy to hear how many Burmese soldiers had died in battle. Kachin soldiers ate Burmese soldiers' brains, and Burmese soldiers ate the enemies' flesh, to make them braver. So this is how my community taught me about violence.

"In 1988 when I studied in town, the Burmese protests broke out. Some soldiers, many students and civil servants took to the streets in non-violent demonstrations. It was my first experience of non-violent action. I learned there is another way to resolve conflict by not harming other people. The military cracked down on the demonstrations. Lots of students were killed and all the schools were closed. I went back to the jungle. University and secondary students from the cities fled to the jungle to begin a military struggle against the government.

After I finished my education in a theological college I was eager to work for social change. After becoming a WLB peacebuilding trainer I see the connection between peacebuilding and non-violence. I understand that without the participation of our people nothing will change. The people don't understand the decisions from high up. We have to give awareness training to the grassroots in Burma to build peace. Although 24 armed groups have signed a cease fire with the SPDC [the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, is the military junta which rules Burma] both sides train people to increase their forces through conscription. I hope you can imagine now how people of our country are trained to kill each other and to be familiar with violence," Mai Jan concluded her talk.


Jill Sternberg, a nonviolence trainer from the US who had just returned from working three years in East Timor, moderated this morning's panel. The theme today is integrating non-violence and gender in training methods, she said. "Yesterday we learned about concepts, today we learn how to practically bring these concepts into our work," she explained, and then introduced the first panelist: Rini Maghi, of Flores, Indonesia. Rini works with the Women's Network in Flores and is a subcommittee member of the peace education division of the Nonviolent Peace Force.


Rini began with a briefing about Indonesia: "Indonesia has 6,000 inhabited islands and a population of 300 million people. The first President, Sukarno, used a cultural approach [specifically Javanese culture] to join the different cultures together into one country. Then Suharto became president and ruled for 30 years. The government became very centralized in Jakarta. In 1998, following the economic crisis in Asia, there were many [pro-democracy] demonstrations. After Suharto the government began to decentralize. Things were very chaotic for awhile. In 2000 Megawati was elected president, and many thought that finally, under this woman's leadership, democracy can be applied. In September we had our first direct elections for president, and the winner will be announced very soon.

Indonesia faces many challenges in political, economic and social terms. In the 1990s there were lots of conflicts, religious and ethnic conflicts. Hundreds of churches were burned, there were rapes and killings. Indonesian women started talking about overcoming violence against women. Two weeks ago the government established policies against violence against women.

The women's movement began in the 1920s with women's organizations in many parts of Indonesia. The focus was first on social aspects, then shifted in the 1930s to political aspects, inspired by western women's movements. In the 1960s, during the economic crisis, the Indonesian National Women's Movement (NWM) was very big and powerful on many islands. When Suharto took over, he destroyed threatening organizations like the NWM and the Communist parties, saying they were responsible for the coup and for killing generals. Many NWM members were killed and the leaders detained. Since then organizations have been restricted and no more women's organizations allowed to be involved in politics. The government has set up organizations for military wives and for wives of civil servants. These are involved in family welfare, income generation, and not allowed to go further. It is just recently that Indonesian women are trying to get their political rights back.

The discussion about gender is relatively new. It is a debate -- do we need this concept of gender? Many women are still afraid to talk about the NWM and the strong women leaders of the past. These women with strong spirits are popularly seen as evil. When I was in elementary school we had to go to the theatre for the September 30, 1967 coup commemoration. All of us were indoctrinated that Suharto was a hero who saved the country from groups like the NWM.


In 1998 there was a rise in ethnic conflicts, for example in East Timor, West Papua, and Aceh. These are conflicts about land ownership, ethnicity, and religion. It is important for us to have conflict management training. My experience with this started in West Timor, with tensions between East Timorese refugees and the local community. The East Timor referendum in 1999 [about whether East Timor would become independent or remain integrated within Indonesia] split refugees into pro-integration or pro-independence groups. Provoked by the Indonesian military, these groups were killing each other. [After the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence] the pro-integrationists left East Timor [for West Timor]. When they came [to West Timor] they felt like heroes for defending Indonesia, so they felt they deserved to be treated better in the camp areas. They terrorized local people. So we need conflict resolution, for the military men, the refugees and civilians.

This wasn't easy because many of the refugees were used to using violence. When we gave peace trainings, a guy would come with a gun to the training. It is a challenge to build solidarity between these groups so they can live side by side. I joined Peace Brigades International and was asked to co-facilitate trainings on Flores.

Gender and Nonviolence

In our trainings, we try to involve female local facilitators, in order to influence local ideas that women can speak out and be leaders. We try to make sure the number of male and female participants are balanced. We try to encourage women to speak up during the trainings because men tend to dominate discussions, especially in Flores, which is a very male-dominated society. We try to address gender issues, because if you dig deeper into certain problems and issues, gender issues underline these problems. We use an elicitive approach, like John Paul Lederach's model [see

Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, by John Paul Lederach, 1997, United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington, DC]. We get models from the participants themselves because the potential for conflict is within the community, so too is the solution. Some trainings focus on women's issues and are women-only. This is very good because women can share their issues. These women-only trainings are very empowering and build trust among women in the community. The discussions start to focus on the effects of local tradition in terms of disempowering women and consistently making women take second place in the community.

When we discuss conflict resolution, even in women-only groups, they will propose men's involvement, especially the involvement of male leaders. Even though the focus is not therapeutic, these trainings are still good for women because they can share their pain. Among other women they are freer to express, to acknowledge and to let the pain go. We call them check ins and check outs. Every day we ask the women to do check -ins and –outs, just to share their feelings at the time, what your worries are, what your dreams are. There is no need to respond to these worries or dreams, we are just trying to build a spirit of togetherness among the groups.


Susan Granada was the next panelist. She has worked with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, in Mindanao, and now with the Nonviolent Peaceforce among Tamils in Sri Lanka. She began by showing participants maps of the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

"There are three main islands in the Philippines, with a total population of 18 million people. 15 percent are Protestant, 5 percent Muslim, the rest are Roman Catholic. In the conflict area of Mindanao, an armed Muslim group is claiming areas as their homeland. There has been a migration of Christians to the area, so now there are portions populated mostly by Christians, and other portions populated mostly by Muslims.

"Spain colonized the Philippines for 300 years, followed by the USA. Much Spanish culture still remains with us. During World War II the Philippines became part of the US fight against Japan. The Japanese commander occupied my own family's house during the war. We became independent in 1945. There was a joint Philippines-US military defence treaty which allowed US military bases in the Philippines for 50 years. [After a massive anti-US bases campaign] in 1991 the Philippines Senate rejected the retention of the treaty that allowed these US military bases.

Is there another way?

"Since independence there was a lot of poverty and corrupt government. In 1967 the Communist Party established the New Peoples Army as an armed force. Around 1968 the Marcos dictatorship trained Muslims to invade Saba island, to claim it for the Philippines. There was a massacre of Muslim military trainees, which started discontent, and led to the creation of Muslim insurgency groups. From 1972 to 1981 there was martial law. The country was under military rule; there were massive human rights violations, with 10,000 arrested, and a curfew. Civil society began to organize. Would support the armed struggle like the Muslim insurgence or the Communist insurgence? Or is there another way? Inspired by the nonviolence of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, civil society began a mass movement for active nonviolence.

"This led in 1986 to Peoples Power. There had been a coup by some military members who decided to align themselves with the people. The coup leaders sought the help of the Roman Catholic Church, which sought the help of the people. At EDSA [a main intersection in the capital city] a million people gathered to separate the military factions. We saw we could change the government without bloodshed. We saw that people power was the way. I was five months pregnant and I was happy to be on the streets. People Power arose again in 2000 [to oust a corrupt political leader]. My first daughter was in high school then. The students wanted their parents to accompany them to where the first protests against Marcos had happened, in order to protest again. It was a great opportunity for me to connect with my high school daughter.

Social Empowerment: People Building Peace

President Corey Aquino initiated peace talks with the insurgents, which collapsed. Civil society came up with a Peoples Agenda for Peace. Groups like farmers, women, workers, fishers, and the urban poor each met together and came up with their own agenda for peace, which was collated into a national agenda for peace. Civil society called for this agenda's implementation. Meanwhile a new President, Fidel Ramos, the former secretary of defence, came up with a comprehensive peace program with the Moro Islamic front and the Communists. The government tried to co-opt the church leadership by some national consultations in cooperation with the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the Bishops' Council. But religious leaders came up with a plan with more integrity that really consulted the people. 92 percent of the country was reached and there were also sectoral consultations. We asked people what kind of peace do you want and people came up with recommendations for a plan of action.

"The NCC developed a basic course on peace, which was distributed to 72 out of 76 provinces. This course incorporated the people's peace agenda. It worked with three levels: the upper (decision makers), the middle (church leaders, NGOs, schools), and the grassroots. Training this way helped people to develop networks. It was also useful because we found that the different levels had different needs. Decision makers wanted negotiation skills and information on peace negotiations elsewhere; the middle level wanted information on peace processes and cultures of peace; while the grassroots needed leadership skills and ways to establish peaceful communities. We adapted the course's methodologies to each sector. Decision makers wanted lectures; the middle level wanted case studies and lectures; and the grassroots wanted an activity-oriented methodology which used relevant language. For example, farmers, women, fisher people, and the urban poor wanted to talk about their economic, political and cultural needs. During the upper level trainings there were very few women; there were more women at the grassroots.

"The work in Sri Lanka is very multicultural, because the Nonviolent Peaceforce works with Buddhists Sinhalese and Muslim Tamils. I respected these differences when developing training materials. In giving training you use the culture of the participants. The methods we used with Christians were not relevant to the Muslims. I really felt I was a Christian when I worked in Mindanao [Philippines], and in Sri Lanka. To speak of Christ is normal to me, but I realized I had to learn the culture of the Muslims. So I adapt the training. I don't talk about Jesus, but about Allah. I respect the Muslim prayer times, and Friday as a holy day."


Ysabel Perez, a feminist from Peru who has lived 16 years in the Netherlands, was the next panelist. Between 1980 to 1987 she coordinated a women's organization in Peru. In the Netherlands she has worked primarily with migrant and refugee women, where she has won recognition for pioneering training which supports the involvement of migrant women in Dutch politics.

"In my experience gender has been articulated with other issues," she began. "In Peru women were concerned about survival first and then empowerment. Gender was important but other relationships were also important, especially class issues for women in poor areas and in villages. We quickly learned that there was a difference in the language with grassroots women and with students and professional women. We tried to find out what was more important: do we organize around gender or class? The most important issue for my colleagues and I was if the work was feminist. We thought we could link feminist women and poor indigenous women, to combine and work on both issues.

Why did we think we had to link both identities? In Peru, we worked for 10 years during an economic crisis. Women began working together as a survival strategy. Women were buying and cooking food together, in communal kitchens. We helped organize women for this so it did not take up all their energy, so they could have time for leadership training.

Gender is not the only factor

Gender is not the only factor shaping women's identity and status in society. Identity and status are influenced by other power relations, such as class, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc. So in this way city women are different from women in the Amazon or in the Andes. We had the liberation theology methodology. In Latin America we have books with thousands of techniques. We had manuals and technical exercises on to how to build people's confidence or how to create a group, but most of these guidelines didn't reflect women. We didn't find our values in these manuals, or the values of the women we worked with.

So to the definition of empowerment by Paulo Freire we added the gender issue. We saw similar principles with feminism in Freire's work. In our workshops we emphasized self-confidence and autonomy. We helped build up confidence slowly. The women would get into small groups, say their name, then say why they'd joined the group. After talking in small groups they had no problems to stand up in the bigger group and give their opinion. Some of the women were illiterate, some were 20 years old with four children already.

The women made group decisions, about the group's names, what type of group they wanted to be, what activities to do. We met for a two-part meeting on Saturday afternoons. They would come in slowly, then the first part of the meeting would be to relax. The women decided what points to put on the agenda, and about the activities. They were worried about their children, about getting enough food, about health care and the economy. They wanted support for their activities. During the second part of the meeting we would use a technique or exercise, then talk about how they felt about the meeting's theme. We'd talk in small groups, about personal problems, how they felt, then do a summary together, so they could see all their experiences and worries were reflected. Then they took decisions. They could see the relationship between the technique or exercise and the decisions they took.

This methodology of empowerment was first not a goal in itself. We wanted women to be leaders. Before this communal kitchen group I was leader of a group who fought to get homes. After working with this group for five years, only two other women emerged as leaders. This was too long to wait! We had to get more women involved.

No one can empower you

While we used empowerment methodology, we also used other techniques, like what is the structure of an organization, how to create an agenda, how to evaluate a meeting or a program. The women organized meetings of the whole community, which we helped them prepare. They planned strategies on how we would present ourselves, on what was our message. They decided where women would sit in a meeting and placed themselves strategically. In this way we helped women get involved in their community.

We used empowerment training for women to become leaders. But we were very aware of different dimensions of empowerment. Women needed to criticize their own values and thoughts. No one can empower you.

Empowerment is an internal option; it's something you decide for yourself.

Lessons Learned

What were the lessons we learned? We learned we needed to build a safe place, a woman space where women can find support, solidarity and courage. Other important lessons:

  • The knowledge and experience of the women themselves

is central.

  • Women needed to make their own decisions (on the personal, organizational and community level)
  • The self-confidence of the participants and facilitators needs to be built up and their negative values questioned
  • Women's active participation in their groups and communities needs to be motivated
  • This is a long-term process-we worked with this group for 10 years.

The results of linking gender with class by using empowerment methodology included:

  • Women's self-image and self-confidence changed
  • Women developed skills like speaking in public, taking

decisions and becoming leaders

  • This changed the gender dynamics, as leaders looked to these women to organize other women in the city.

Moving to the Netherlands

"In the Netherlands I was asked to develop a project to get women into decision-making positions. About 30 percent of the Dutch Parliament is women-- and about three percent of them are black [i.e., ancestors coming from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and Middle East], migrant women. This low rate of involvement is caused by several things: government stagnation, the culture of political parties, issues like paid and unpaid work and child care, women's political and management skills.

"We began the project in Rotterdam where there were organizations working on all these issues. Migrant women lack access to resources (financial and material), so women could not pay for expensive training. We aimed at a specialized training because we needed to have results. The goal was getting migrant women of diverse backgrounds into politics. It was a very practical training, so that after six months the women could go into politics. It provided insights into the Dutch political system and social and political decision-making processes. There was training, coaching, and developing women's leadership skills.

"The strengths of this specialized training included working from within an empowerment and diversity perspective; a large diversity of groups was reached; the empowerment methodology had a holistic approach and a low threshold. There was a real link and match between the decision-making bodies and the trainees.

"I adapted some of the methods we had used in Peru. Some principles remained, especially about creating a place of safety, self-confidence, and the capacity for tolerance (because it was important to work with women of different cultures and religions). We had criteria to select women by beforehand. The women were nominated by different organizations. There was a half-hour interview of each candidate in which she explained her motives to be a leader, why she hasn't been a leader until now, how she reacts to dominate and to passive women. Some of the women are now elected in municipal councils, or working in their own migrant organization or another Dutch organization. Only four women aren't chairing something. There is a waiting list of women who want to be part of the training."

After Ysabel's presentation there were questions from the participants. Susan was asked how she integrates gender and nonviolence into her trainings.

"In the Philippines," Susan replied, "when we talk about training it is more in the context of support for social change. It is related to the peace process. In integrating nonviolence, my assumption is that since we are talking about peace we are talking about nonviolence. So I assumed in training that if you talk about peace, you are talking about nonviolence. I only learned that some people make a distinction between peace and nonviolence when I was studying in the US.

"We have People Power so we know that nonviolence is not separated from peace. Since I have been involved in the Nonviolence Peaceforce (NP), in Sri Lanka, and the NP exploratory mission in Philippines, I am developing a training program on nonviolence. I do non-violent communication training. The assumptions of this model are very Western based. The context is that you are direct, confrontational, for nonviolent communication. But in a southern context we are indirect.

"I am part of the people's movement in the Philippines, so gender has always been an issue. Yet when I came home after a gender training, and my husband asked me for a cup of coffee, I was shocked. I am still learning about gender."

Rini, in response to the same question, answered, "In our trainings we discuss about power over, power within, and power with; about emotions, and about how we can escalate or de-escalate conflict. In doing our training, we try to make deliberate strategy to involve women as co-facilitators."

Love starts with one's self

Ysabel was asked about the criteria for participants in her trainings with migrant women in the Netherlands. "We work with groups of 20 women. I developed five criteria, based on the work in Peru. The first ting to realize is that women must reconstruct each woman's own image, and validate her own life experience. This means women had to be in touch with her own energy and spirituality, her inner energy. We need to criticize the imposed image of woman, through socialization.

"We need to work on the fact that women need to have more self-confidence, and we need to discover our inner energy and spirituality. Love on this planet starts with one's self -- if we can't love ourselves, we can't love others. This was powerful personal experience.

"Women should have the capacity of deciding their sexual preference, and who their partner is. We worked a lot on anti-contraceptive methods: we named different parts of our bodies, talked about machismo, the women saw jell and condoms -- those were fun sessions. We considered which kind of decisions women want to have. This is a second step, because giving information is not enough. So we brought doctors in to give consultations with the women, so the women could make decisions about what contraceptive they wanted.

"Through a folder, information packet and press release, I shared information with the women thinking about the leadership course. We identified three groups of women: the ones who were ready to participate, who have paid jobs and were in politics; the second group, who had background experience in volunteering or organizing, but no money or networking contacts; and the third, who might want to participate, but don't know the political system.

"I targeted the second group, identified the groups in Rotterdam that may have these women, visited these groups and asked if they had women who wanted this experience. I was looking for women of different nationalities, so some of the organizations, for example, were working on diversity. The women had to have a good level of Dutch; time to do a practice internship; then they filled in a formula and we had an one-hour personal interview. This interview was a simple conversation with a cup of coffee. We wanted to know if the women had the time to do the course, if they could take up a political function after the training, and how we should adjust the program to fit the women."

A participant asked, "We hear of King and Gandhi -- where are the women leaders? How do you take the theories of men like John Paul Lederach and use them to address gender? Are there women theorists and models you use in your training?"

Susan responded, "To be truthful, I haven't thought about it. Women and men in my trainings see that I am a decision maker, I'm articulate, that I am not a member of the women's movement, but that I practice [what I preach]. I look at theories and models more in light of whether it is applicable to our culture. So it doesn't matter if the theory comes from a man or a woman. I have to study gender further."

Ysabel answered, "In Peru we used already existing methodology and modified it to include gender. I'm very open to whatever helps social change. We don't need to re-invent the wheel. There are lots of women blind to gender."

Rini said, "We also use Lederach to try to develop local models of conflict resolution. We ask women to brainstorm about some one whom at one time acted as a helper to them. Then we brainstorm about the qualities of helpers in resolving a conflict. We divide into small groups to relate all this to their local conflict. This exercise gives some points on who needs to be involved, [in resolving a conflict]. At first we didn't mean to integrate gender, but because most of the trainers are also gender trainers, we can't help ourselves. We stress more on justice, not gender, so we use no specific woman theorist."

The lack of women role models and theorists can be explained in several ways. Most cultures place more value and importance on what men do, so women's activism and theories are not highlighted, or are ignored in historical accounts written by men, or are ridiculed or suppressed if they challenge traditional balances of power between women and men. Women often do not have access to education in order to document their ideas and experiences. Two-thirds of the world's illiterates are women and so cannot write. Ysabel also pointed out that women shoulder an unequal amount of the world's work load: "Many, many women have enormous experience, but we have to combine our activism with our family work and other work. I was an activist, but it was only when I had to leave my country that I got the opportunity to reflect on 15 years of activism. Writing is more something men do. We [women] have to find the time to analyse and write and publish our experiences."

"This is why my organization asked me to apply for this conference," said Rini. "This is the question we are asking ourselves -- how do we integrate gender and nonviolence? This really motivates me to be here and to get experience here."

Jill concluded the panel by summing up. "Many of us feel incredible pain that our work is not more widely spread because of our gender," she said. "Now I suggest we break into small groups, based on the type of training that we do. There are four groups: third-party intervention, conflict resolution, empowerment and nonviolent direct action, but additional groups can be added, such as such as gender and women's rights training, or peace education/working with children, as needed. Please find a group in order to share your thoughts and feelings raised by the presentations."


The small group of trainers working on conflict resolution included women from Rwanda, India, Georgia, Peru, Sierra Leone, and the USA, among others. One participant began by pointing out the need to validate women's experiences in trainings. Such validation is necessary if women are ever to gain the self-confidence necessary in order to be leaders, she said. "In Switzerland, in schools books girls become nurses and men become doctors. Boys and men are portrayed as leaders, not women. We need role models to become women leaders, role models like Aung San Suu Kyi. In my work I try to find women role models. I find women in groups reluctant to become leaders. Is this because the idea of power is frightening, or do women reject power because they have seen such abuses of power? Or maybe women don't want to have leaders?"

A trainer from Sierra Leone continued, "I tend to mainstream nonviolence in my gender work. I work in five refugee camps in Sierra Leone against gender-based violence. One tool I use is singing. In Sierra Leone we've experienced over 11 years of war. People are not patient enough to listen to other people. Singing is the only time men will sit and listen to women. Women sing a lot. When singing in my tradition you use motivating words. I've supported the production of a cassette called 'Peace from the Family Line', which talked about violence against women and how it can lead to violence in the wider society. I think if you talk about peace you must talk about women's rights.

"I also use the Bible and the Qur'an. The greatest commandment is to love. Jesus emphasized this. Respecting women's rights is not against our culture or our religious beliefs. Eve was Adam's first neighbor. To love your neighbour means to love Eve, to love women and to respect women.

"One common point in concepts of gender and in nonviolence is the belief in solidarity, in togetherness. We need to build alliances and networks everywhere. We can only do this with dialogue, which non-violence also talks about. It is also important to me to engage the oppressor as well, because, in nonviolence, you free yourself and the oppressor as well. When I learned about nonviolence, this helped me to deal with my anger against men."

Another woman commented, "I work with refugee women in Rotterdam [the Netherlands]. I see women have many ambitions, but also have a problem to communicate among different groups because of conflicts in their countries. I'm here to learn how to integrate nonviolence into my gender work. I am really committed to learn more from all of you. In my city [in the Netherlands] there is a restaurant that forbids women to come in wearing a head scarf. This made me think of the US campaigns of desegregation [during the US Civil Rights movement]. We need active resistance against this kind of segregation. We need networks, in order to build everyday change, everyday revolution."

The synergy is contagious

A Rwandese trainer now living in France said, "I want to share something from my experience, as an activist, about women learning from women's lives. I think when we work together in groups the synergy between women is contagious. If we look at the paths women travelled in their life, many women have suffered domestic violence, or mutilation. It's something we can all relate to whether we are from Burma, Peru, or Africa. Whether this suffering comes from men or institutions, we can relate to it. It's as if you are being emptied of your strength, becoming anaemic. In the group there may be a quiet woman, but after listening to other women, she hears of women survivors. Through your vulnerability you can be transformed, and that gives you strength. The first time I took part in a nonviolence training I was a refugee in a camp. We women had been completely broken and flattened. We felt we had no power. But the IFOR Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) organized a training in the camp. When I came I said to myself I'll keep quiet, it's not appropriate to talk about what I've been through. But I heard other women talking about what they'd been through and that was liberating. By speaking out about your suffering your reappropriate your own body and strength. You can go out again and do your work. As Gladys said, we African women express ourselves in singing and dancing, in touch, with tears, with bodily communication. I see that as like a transfusion we can give to women who are anaemic."

"In Georgia," contributed another participant, "we have worked on women's leadership in non-violence for the last seven years. Women often are too busy, so they decide that men should be in leadership positions. In our training we teach women the skills about their rights, about laws in Georgia, and how they can use them. We always say that no body else can solve their problems. We had a big demonstration when, under the church influence, abortion was made illegal. Because of this the government gave the law back to NGOS, who drafted a new proposal.

In 1992 when war began in our country, men trained to go to war, while women tried to gather together to solve the problem. After an IFOR WPP in 2000, we translated training materials and set up a network of women's NGOs for peace building. We introduce nonviolence into our programs with internally displaced people, but this is hard to do."

An Indian trainer asked, "Gender is about both men and women. I get afraid we concentrate on women's issues, so men will retaliate and feel frustrated. We need to address both genders simultaneously. We need men's empowerment because emotionally they are oppressed. So how to develop exercises for men also? We need practical exercises for men too."

An indigenous woman from Aotearoa responded, "In New Zealand we deal with this partnership by asking the men what they want. It is not women's responsibility to empower the men. Men have been empowering themselves for centuries. We have to include men when we organize women in villages. We do women's empowerment training, but we never say we are including non-violence, yet these values come up. These days we do need to stress non-violence because our society is becoming more intolerant. I never thought we were following men's models. This morning's stories were so inspiring. I will collect them and write an article for village women."

"I look at different models of feminism, and form questions in my head," said a Nigerian participant. "The models are mostly Western. Where are the Asian and African models? How does their work on empowering women relate to non-violence? Personally I would like to do this work in Sri Lanka, where a lot of the refugee camps are lead by women. But if there is a workshop or foreign visitors, the meeting is led by a man -- especially the religious leadership, which is usually men.

In my gender trainings we look at the impact on both men and women. For the most part we have to empower women first, but we need to look at the family as a whole and within that family, who needs what. I'm already labelled a woman's woman. I have to get beyond that in order to convince people to change.

Picking up on the question of where women's movements are, and what role models women have, one participant said, "In the Balkans we realized when we started to dig and publish our history that the feminist movement existed before us. But we had to research and write our own history. We need to share the stories that women identify with. You are right that gender is not only about women. In Serbia I cannot work on gender if I don't include men. How to raise this issue? We [women] are raising the issue because we are the ones who are not equal in this society, but we must include both men and women."


A workshop on From Violence to Wholeness, facilitated by Cindy Preston-Pile (USA) and Martine Sauvageau (Canada), was four hours long. This workshop utilized the specific ten-part training in the spirituality and practice of nonviolence developed by the Christian-based group Pace e Bene. The manual has been translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese, and is being adapted for use in different faith communities.

The workshop began with an opening ritual, and included an introduction to the process, agreements, a name game, an exploration of responses to violence, images of nonviolence, embodied power, and circle-of-truths. The workshop concluded with an evaluation and closing ritual.

For copies of the From Violence to Wholeness (FVTW) manual contact FVTW, Pace e Bene, 1420 W. Barlett Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada 89106, USA. Tel/fax +1 702 648 2281. Email: Web: For information about the manual or training in French, contact: Martine Sauvageau, 259, 388ème Avenue, St-Hippolyte, Québec, Canada J8A 3A2. Tel. +1 450 563 2922; email; martinesauvageau@

Natasha Dokovska (Macedonia) conducted a Training Workshop on Peace Journalism, which included examples of the roles media play in both peacebuilding and in inflaming violence. The role of new technologies such as the internet was also discussed.


Lee Mckenna duCharme (Canada) facilitated a

Training for Economic Literacy with Popular Education Methods. Participants were divided into two groups and asked, as a group, to design together the ideal village. Two very different and beautiful drawings were made by the groups, who then explained why the villages were made the way they were. Then Lee, complete with hat and tie, and a volunteer visited each village as representatives of a multinational corporation. The two, speaking quickly and persuasively, tried to persuade the villagers that their lives would be better if they sold the communities' natural resources to the corporation. Specific villagers were offered large sums of money to sell the resources to the corporation.

The second half of the "Village Game" consisted of a debriefing: discussion about what had happened, and about the successful or unsuccessful ways the villagers developed to retain their ideal home. Some villagers stood on their drawing when the businessmen tried to grab it. Others linked arms and physically separated the businessmen from the drawing. One village leader, drawing on local custom, walked the businessmen away from the other villagers, insisting that the businessmen must drink coffee with the village elder before any negotiations began.

The exercise was very participatory and there were several questions about the methodology. For example, the 'villagers' belonged to many different nationalities -- how would it have played out if it had been participants from only one country? Or if it had been a male-only or a mixed (female and male) group? Lee said she has used this tool in mixed groups, and that while women were normally the first to feel anxious about the appearance of the businessmen, the women in mixed groups usually wait for a male leader to take action. Men were often the first to create physical protection for the village, and were often very confrontational. Often during the game a villager will agree to betray the village. It is almost always a man who agrees to betray the village, perhaps because "men usually receive the economic benefits first."

Lee said she would point out the differences in behaviour between women and men as the differences appeared during the game, in order to raise questions about gender. She might also ask some participants simply to be observers during the game, and ask them to tell the entire group what they saw. "Observing is a great way to elicit discussion without judgement," she said. The game is most often played with between 20 to 25 people.

Popular education methodology involves supporting people to name their Experience, then to Reflect upon the experiences, Generalize the experiences and reflections, and then to Apply the learnings to reality.


Sarom Sek of the Dhammayeitra Center, a peace center, in Battambong, Cambodia, led this workshop. She began by reviewing some of Cambodia's recent history because "my work is connected with what happened 50 years before."

"In 1953 Cambodia became independent from France, and was governed by its own king. In the 1960s there was increasing unrest because of unequal distribution of wealth. "In 1968 a civil war started in my home town of Battambong," Sarom explained. "In 1970 a coup threw the king out and a US-backed government established the Republic of Cambodia. In 1975 the Khmer Rouge overthrew this government and renamed the country Kampuchea. Nearly half the people were killed or died during the Khmer Rouge regime. In 1979 the Vietnamese invaded and threw the Khmer Rouge out. Many Cambodians lived in refugee camps along the Thai border. I was born in a refugee camp.

"The peace accord was signed in Paris in 1993. All the refugees could come back and begin reintegration. Some Cambodians from the USA and Australia came back to rebuild the country, but went back because they could not deal with the corruption. The Kingdom of Cambodia was re-established. [In all this history] each regime used violence. Who is the victim? The Cambodian people. They killed each other and caused a lot of suffering. Now it is peace time. Yet when we started school in 1996, when the students were asked 'do you believe peace will happen?', none of them agreed. We are still fighting each other. When I begin a training I always write first Peace is Possible.

It is very dangerous if you can't see injustice

"Cambodia has huge problems after 30 years of war. Corruption is everywhere. We are not a rule of law country. Why does rape happen so much? When a man rapes a girl nothing happens -- no one trusts the courts. We call the Justice Ministry the Injustice Ministry. The rapist just pays the family off and the family accepts this because they are so poor. We don't know what is right or wrong. It's a confused country. Cheating is every where, in schools, in government. People don't see it as an injustice -- and it is very dangerous if you can't see injustice.

"In Battambong we have the Dhammayietra Center. Dhammayietra is a Pali word for peace walk. The work has three parts: reading (there is a library on peace and nonviolence, but there are no books in Khmer, only in English), AIDS work, and the annual Dhammayietra walk. We are volunteers. The Buddhist temple kindly gives us a building, but the temple has a bad reputation. I am the only woman there. The rest are monks, 90 percent of whom are 25 years old or younger. (All the older monks were killed by the Khmer Rouge.) Some of them take drugs. Half of the people we work with are monks. We try to get monks to do good works, because traditionally monks are very respected in Cambodian society. Our goal is just to be a place different from other places, a place for people to come and meditate together, where they can share stories of what they face in their communities.

"People come for our free course. Sometimes we get hundreds applying for class of 25. The course is a six-month seminar. We study one hour a day and have a weekly and a monthly exam. We study the history of the African-American civil rights movement, and the leadership of Martin Luther King. Why did some of King's strategies fail and others succeed? Nonviolence comes in a lot.

"There is hard pressure on the students to work hard -- if they don't work, they don't come. They study in groups of four or five. Before they begin they must sign an agreement that they will finish the course. They don't like the hard work, but when they finish they see how valuable it is. We tell them this is real life, that we must struggle together. We don't expect them to change after only six months, but we realize that peace is a process.

Gender in Cambodia

"In Cambodia women are not allowed to study outside the home, especially in the countryside. They live under family control. Even mothers won't let daughters study outside the home. Girls are forced to marry at 14. There are no jobs so a girl is dependent on her husband. There is no money for either boys or girls to live away from their family. If a girl does work outside the home, parents worry that she will be abducted for prostitution, or she might have an affair. But if she gets married the husband will give them [the parents] some money. We have few women who can come to study with us. We try so hard to get women to join, but haven't found a right way to do this yet. We did have a short seminar on women of hope, like Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. We studied for one month the lives and work of five women.

"But when young women do join us, they have a chance to talk about their problems. This talking goes against custom in Cambodia. When you have a group of young women talking together, their parents criticize them."

Veasna from Women Peacemakers in Phnom Penh added more on gender in Cambodia. "Women in the city can have freedom to do what they want to do. But girls don't have that freedom. There's two kinds of girls in the city -- those with educated parents who give some freedom to daughters; and others who don't allow their daughter to study, who keep their children at home, and try to find a rich husband to feed their daughter. But daughters married to rich men aren't happy either. In Cambodia nearly all husbands go to prostitutes. This hurts the wives but if they talk about it, the husbands beat them. So women go crazy. Nearly all Cambodian women have mental problems. They don't want to divorce because their life depends on their husband. Widows and divorcees are unacceptable, so the woman will keep living with her husband," she said.

Peace is a very dangerous business

Sarom spoke more about her work. "In our course we focus on spirituality. Our physical body needs food every day but we also need food for our spirit. We study a lot about how to live mindfully, like the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn teaches. This is very important for peacemakers because we need inner strength. Peace is a very dangerous business. When you call yourself a peacemaker it goes against the government; when we talk about gender it goes against custom. We stay in the middle so we get accused from all sides. We need inner strength to continue.

"It is hard to know the results of our work. Many students are told that if you go to Dhammayietra Center you will suffer. When they go on to university, they don't cheat [or pay bribes in order to pass tests] and they protest against cheating. Many people hate them then. They come back to us and talk about their hurt feelings. We have a plan to meet when I go to Phnom Penh, to share what they do.

We try to work with Youth for Peace in Phnom Penh, try to help the faculty work for a better salary [teachers, as other professionals, make about USD 20 a month in Cambodia]. We want to work with people with education because they are the future. We try to influence them for a better future. Now in Cambodia there are hundreds of private universities. This is a real problem because they just want money. Students or faculties don't strike [to change things] because no one will come.

A participant working in Kosov@ commented, "I see lot of parallels in Kosov@. I think people are not prepared for how hard peace is. We can say there's peace in Kosov@ or Cambodia, but we don't know what it's like. Professors at Prishtina University get paid 140 euros. Many were in the non-violent resistance before the war, but are now struggling to make a living. They don't care about their students. This kills the spirit and is very difficult for young people. I'm trying to do things in a different way. Students bargain for grades like they are at a market. I say you can have a principled negotiation with me, you can argue with me, but this is not a market. Some get angry, others say 'you're right'.

Another parallel between Cambodia and Kosov@ was the presence of UN Peacekeepers. UN peacekeepers sent to Cambodia to ensure free and fair elections also committed human rights abuses, and introduced AIDS into Cambodia. Said one participant, "Under the umbrella of peace building, we as an international community are introducing structural violence. In Kosov@ old men are in power, and young women and men head NGOs. NGO workers become rich comparatively in terms of salary. They receive 600 to 800 euros per month for working with a Western NGO. Kosovar doctors are driving jeeps for UN personnel, because it pays better. This is not being properly analyzed, and we keep doing it."

The Dhammayietra

There is some support from Cambodians in the diaspora, but Sarom personally gets inner strength from the Cambodian Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda. It was his idea, almost 15 years ago, to organize the first peace march in Cambodia. "92 people along the Cambodian border came back to march. Maha Ghosananda led the walk, starting from a refugee camp. They walked in dangerous places where the United Nations would not allow them. People sat along the road with water and flowers for us. Some saw a relative they hadn't seen in 20 years. By the end of the peace walk 1,000 people had joined us."

Originally planned as a one off event, the peace walk has now happened at least 12 times. Before the UN monitored elections, when there were threats of violence from all sides if people voted, the Dhammayietra marched into Phnom Penh and is widely credited with reducing tensions and laying the foundation for a violence-free election. Five years later, when walking through Khmer Rouge territory, some marchers were killed in cross fire between government troops and Khmer Rouge troops. Nonviolence training is now provided before each walk. Information on deforestation, AIDS, living peacefully and the Five Precepts (Buddhist teachings on living an ethical life) are distributed to passersby throughout each march.

Peace is still a desperate need for Cambodia; a need that cannot be fulfilled until the past is dealt with. "In schools they don't teach about the Khmer Rouge period," said Sarom. "When I lived in the refugee camp they taught us to hate the Vietnamese inside." It is dangerous to talk about the genocide in Cambodia because former members of the Khmer Rouge are still in power. "What is justice for us? We were all victims. The Khmer Rouge were also victims. When we had the war with Vietnam the US dropped a lot of bombs secretly on Cambodia. There was corruption everywhere, with the rich getting richer. The Khmer Rouge told their fighters 'there is a new way. We will fight the rich because that is why you are poor.' So they ran into the forest and trained to kill. Many Khmer Rouge were good people, but they didn't know how to control their heart. I don't know what happened to their heart, but that's why they came back and killed. They killed teachers, monks, officials -- all were killed. This is why we don't have good human resources. If I look into the future, I am afraid it will happen again. Many young people don't have work to do, they go to drugs, or they feel hopeless. Any political group can use them for their political aims. People are very tired of corruption. I am very worried."

I don't want Cambodia to forget

"In 1998 during reintegration, many Khmer Rouge hid their identity. Some have become very rich selling trees to the Thais and Vietnamese. Some of their children are gangsters, especially the young boys. Some old people just don't want to talk about this. I want to forgive but I don't want Cambodia to forget that time.

"How to bring the Khmer Rouge to trial? When I read of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa, which let people tell the truth to the victims about what happened, I feel a little hurt for my generation. My parents don't talk in public. I would like to create a forum to allow people to talk. They were all victims -- you had to kill, they trained the children to kill their parents. Just tell us why you did this. I don't want them [the Khmer Rouge] to die in jail. They could try to serve the community, or in temples, or provide some service to the people."

In response to a question about the international war crimes tribunal, now set up in Cambodia along the lines of the international tribunals for the former-Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Sarom said, "I have heard so many problems about international war crimes tribunals. Many in government are former Khmer Rouge. Some say if the US and the Chinese are brought before the court, too, then they will appear before the court willingly. Cambodian people don't trust Cambodian courts, so we don't know where to find justice in Cambodia. There is no bail, no bond. You can be six months in jail without trial. Some people kill a thief themselves because they don't see how a court will bring them any justice. A court case may last five or six years with no result.

"There are many things I can't do, but I have hope and dreams. Some say if you don't have hope you die. Even though I have many difficulties I still have hope and this hope keeps me going. I want the Cambodian people to learn to love each other more, just to love their own people."

There was much discussion in the workshop on responsibility for war crimes. One woman said, "The generation I teach in Germany asks why am I still being blamed? I wasn't even born then!" Another participant commented, "The bombs dropped on Cambodia were a crime against humanity. If the world had had a criminal court then, Kissinger and Nixon would be tried. How can people outside Cambodia help? Because some of us are from countries (US, Australia, Thailand) and are co-responsible." Sarom responded, "You can send us books. These provide us with strength, which is better than money."

A participant from Zimbabwe said, "We need to share experiences. Send us case studies, that helps us help each other. Zimbabwe sent troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The soldiers would be killed and their heads chopped off, so when the wives received their bodies back home, they were traumatized. If you get experiences from other people you get to understand the other atrocities. Sometimes people think their suffering is so big because they don't know about the outside. When we learn more and see that every country has its own problems, we don't feel so alone."

An Indonesian activist said, "What you are saying reminds me of education in East Timor and the trauma they have been through. Teachers there might pass a 16-year-old student who can't read, saying that the poor education was the result of trauma. Under the Indonesian occupation the primary purpose of education was to make the students Indonesian. The new government has inherited lots of problems. The government took Portuguese as the official language but very few people speak Portuguese. The biggest language is Tetun, but it's not developed because speaking it was forbidden. During the occupation schools were destroyed and all the teachers left. Now 50 students share one book and teachers don't know what language to teach in.


Women met in small groups in the plenary room at the end of each day in order to reflect on what they had learned. Given the theme for this day, the following questions were offered as guidelines for reflection: what have I gained from different training methodologies? As we learn about different techniques and methodologies, what are the questions we need to ask? What will I do with the things I've learned today?

Participants found that the role play exercise in the Training for Economic Literacy with Popular Education Methods was "very helpful. Because it was at the village level and challenged participants to intervene, it made us think." Another participant said that, "It made me reflect on the destructiveness of the economics of development and how national economics affect local economics."

Participants found the From Violence to Wholeness workshop "a powerful way to understand the different perspectives of people in conflict, and why people behave as they do in conflict."

The Peace Journalism workshop raised specific questions:

  • How do we reach the media and journalists?
  • How do we continue further? How do we establish a


  • How do we share our different methodologies and techniques?

The workshops raised many questions:

  • How do we make more educational materials, in every level of training, in our own language, on peacebuilding?
  • How do we make training more valued, more important in society?
  • How can we make our lives more meaningful than worrying about the cost of living?
  • Who is our target in training? The language we use must be at the same level as the target group.
  • I don't have a training methodology -- how do I find the best one for me?
  • We should spend more time in the morning session on how we integrate gender and nonviolence in conflict transformation.


Summary: It is important to women to live out the values that first inspired them to join social change movements. It is equally important to see these values lived out organizationally. Yet structural inequality and unconscious discrimination against women within peace organizations is a reality. Support, both personally and professionally, is essential in order to continue working as a social change agent and trainer. Support includes the necessity to learn more about ways to heal and reconstruct both personal lives and whole communities after violence.

The day's theme raised many questions about how to achieve a balance between the demands of private life and public work. How to nurture relationships, including relationships between women themselves? How do we support, connect with and empower each other when we ourselves experience suffering? What sustains us to continue our work?


Joy Mbaabu of Kenya shared her personal story.

"I feel so happy and privileged to be speaking with you this morning. I was born on the slopes of Mount Kenya," she said. "I am one of four children. Both of my names mean joy. My mother instilled in me my childhood dream. She thought I have the qualities of a lawyer. She nurtured me and encouraged me.

In 1987 I graduated from the University of Nairobi in law. I opened my own law firm, specializing in family law practice, in separation, divorce, etc. I began to feel that women in my country live under a lot of injustice, a lot of domestic violence, a lot of unfairness. Some of this is HIV-related. HIV has robbed and wreaked havoc in the lives of Kenyan women. Being in court representing mainly women was a reactive approach to the situation. I was only treating the symptoms. I began a more proactive approach by going out and doing civic education, so women would know their rights.

Kenya is a very violent country. It has a patriarchal system and there is much inequality. We are brought up to resolve conflicts through violence. In 1997 I set up an organization called Family Mediation and Reconciliation (FAMEC). FAMEC incorporates training in a culture of peace and nonviolence. This is really my passion and it's very challenging, both at a personal and an organizational level.

One of my biggest personal challenges has been the loss of my child, who died three years ago at age 13. It was really devastating. I now have Syrian [her infant son whom she brought to the consultation] and an 11-year-old son, so I have only men in my life! These are the people who inspire me on. I've confronted these challenges through my own internal personal resources.

Getting Out of the Box

We all need to have supportive relationships from where we can derive moral will and strength. My high moment was when my organization premiered mediation training in my country. We are still lobbying for mediation's inclusion as an official method of conflict resolution. FAMEC's targets are refugee women, the marginalized and poor urban women. It is exciting when we finish a training and these women have completely transformed their thinking. They have a new sense of power and looking at life. It is most exciting for me. We call it getting out of the box.

When women are empowered they matter. It's exciting to hear them decide they intend to change their entire life. There are low moments because of lack of resources. We are limited in the resources to carry out the training, but I have a vision and the stamina to drive on. We now have six staff members. We all feel excited about the contribution we are making to change our society towards a culture of peace and non-violence, and lifting women from second class. I am proud to be here with powerful women like you. I feel I have made so many new friends, and am happy at what we will be able to do together after this.


Today's moderator was Marian Wiseman (Australia/ Kosov@). "It is interesting that our theme today on integrating the personal and political falls in the center, the fulcrum, of our week together" she began. "This is always a contradiction, integrating the personal and the political, and this is one of the thing trainers do -- deal with contradictions. As a small child I saw contradictions in my own upbringing: the difference in what I saw and what I was told. I saw my older brother being allowed to do things I wasn't allowed to do. The reason for this wasn't age, but gender. I first thought my parents were responsible for the differences, but quickly realized it was the larger picture -- the political.

"In the 1960s the women's movement in Australia began to emphasize the need to contextualize. The phrase 'the personal is political' began. It's a powerful phrase, and acknowledges that we need to know who is speaking, according to whose experience. The women's movement in Australia brought into the public arena the issue of domestic violence and a whole range of issues about how we live our lives: who does the work, who does the washing up, and how are these decisions made. These are not just personal issues, but political.

My dirty secret

"Politics then was about serious affairs like the economy and foreign affairs, not about personal lives. So when women raised these issues women were told we were being emotional, trivial. Now in the 21stcentury globalization has given the personal another dimension. It's no longer my dirty secret that my underwear is made in Sri Lanka by young exploited women. This is probably true, too, as we shop for clothes here in Thailand.

"The personal is ultimately subversive. I like to quote the US poet Muriel Rukeyeser: 'If one woman were to tell the truth about her life, the world would split open.'

"I am still surprised these topics -- nonviolence, peace building and gender (and of course you can opt out of gender) -- are separated. As trainers, we hear about peoples' suffering and trauma. In trainings, everybody wants to tell their story. As a trainer you have an agenda, and you can try to elicit from the group, according to this agenda. How to deal with this contradiction: the agenda, but also peoples' emotions, their stories? How to deal with the fact that we are embodied, and as spiritual beings? How is this integrated in our trainings? How do we work with people in order to provide a safe place where people can express their feelings?"


The panel began to explore these issues with Maria Tsvere (Zimbabwe), a university lecturer. "I am a trainer of children," she said, "and I am going to begin with an exercise. I am passing out pieces of paper, some beginning with the sentence 'I am' , others with 'Because'. I want you to imagine you are abused and complete the sentence. My definition of peace is when my child is able to walk to school without being abused on the way. That is the definition of a mother. A mother's worry, that's the context of peace I will be using in this talk.

"In gender, we are looking at the perceptions and learned behaviours that originate from perceived needs and notions of men and women. In indigenous Zimbabwe women had very high positions of respect. Colonization destroyed this. The Bible came, and men started going to work, and that's when men got power over women. Especially now in urbanized set ups women are powerless. There are small groups which practice traditional cultural values, but otherwise, women are powerless.

"Children in Zimbabwe are very likely to become victims of serious abuse and physical assault. We've investigated some three million cases of child abuse. Reports of missing children are also very high.

"Domestic violence is any assault used by adults against partners. Now contemporary Africa faces many challenges: HIV/AIDS, poverty, social unrest, and environmental degradation. There is no way you can separate these from the abuse of women and children. Our Zimbabwean history traditionally respected aunts and grandmothers -- these women prevented child abuse. Now these same people cannot rescue themselves when being abused. Some 27 percent of children will be orphaned by AIDS, and 1 in 3 women will be sexually harassed. With the advent of HIV/AIDS schools are trying to provide life skills, including family life education.

"We look at conflict transformation from life skills. Our method is to identify and deal with the training needs of children. The teacher should be able to identify when a child has been abused -- say when she or he can't concentrate, is shy or abusive themselves. You can tell something is wrong when the child bursts out crying because we have touched on something happening to them at home. We teach them negotiation; for example, they must learn how to negotiate with their partner to use a condom. We teach them conflict resolution skills. We teach about sex, and it's no use to talk with girls and women alone, we must talk with the abuser and abused together.

"At the tertiary level we encourage students to go into the community to do research, to learn what we are talking about. We do guidance and counselling. I believe we must try to empower children. To start to awaken the people, we must awaken the women first, so that Zimbabwe moves. Zimbabwe is a Christian country. God created Eve to awaken Adam, but Adam must have been very stupid because he was misled by Eve. Eve is there for us, because she was very intelligent. So let's take Eve and wake up!


Clotilde Ngendakuma of Burundi spoke next. "I work for a human rights organization," she said. "Burundi is a small country of six million people. There are three ethnic groups: Hutu, which is 84 percent of the population; Tutsi, 15 percent; and the indigenous Twa, which is one percent. The Twa have their own way of living and are not interested in national interests. They are discriminated against and don't aspire to power.

"I am a lawyer and a program assistant with Global Rights. I work in the north province, in a rural area with women and communities. In 1998, during the crisis, I was deputy to the prosecutor in Bujumbura. I became a victim in the war and lost all my relatives. I come from the Tutsi minority. There have been cyclical crises in Burundi since 1965, with the Hutu majority being eliminated by the Tutsi minority. We were colonized by Germany, then Belgium, who decided the Tutsis were superior and the Hutus better for manual labor. In 1966, when the first republic revolution started, Hutus rebelled against Tutsis and almost half of the Tutsi elite were killed.

"In 1993 yet again there was killing. We can call this genocide. It is hard to know who killed who and under what circumstances. There have been six regime changes since 1993. This month we are preparing for elections.

"I worked as a lawyer, but also was a member of local groups. One of these groups led me to my trainings. I took minutes and took part in exercises during others' trainings. We had the idea to bring together internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and women who stayed at home. The association that brought them together was led by women who had training (including training in modern healing techniques) from an international organization.

Trainings allowed women to open up

"These trainings allowed participants to open up. Before this women were afraid. Nobody wanted to say they were Hutu or Tutsi. But after undergoing these trainings, women were proud to say they belonged to their ethnic group. I saw that this could help improve ethnic relationships. I was working in the Court of Appeal. I was popularizing the law, educating people about the law. But the magistrate was very corrupt. With great luck I found my home in Global Rights. I helped to build core groups in the community by doing trainings. Every time I proposed trainings I wasn't listened to in my old group. But in Global Rights, I was able to do trainings in trauma healing and reconciliation.

"With Search for Common Ground we were able to do a huge number of trainings on sexual violence. We trained groups of leaders to help community people on the spot, then trained nurses, then police who had to receive the victims and make sure they didn't get into difficulties in the legal system, and then transport victims to hospital. I gained something for myself doing this. There were some terrible cases -- including victims of two years old -- but the work healed me.

"I also work to improve legal rights for women, do research studies, and support women to take part in leadership decisions. After participating in this consultation I will go home and feel stronger and more effective. Thank you!"

Aceh: Peace education is essential

Zulfinar, a peace educator in Aceh, Indonesia, spoke next. She began with a country briefing. "Aceh faces an endless cycle of violence due to its rich resources," she said. "It is very complicated, and not just an ethnic conflict but a political conflict between Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)." Within this context, "Peace education is essential," Zulfinar said.

"Most Aceh people are victims in this fighting. The political situation is very unpredictable. The killings made a mark especially in rural areas. In the capital city there is some conflict, but in rural areas there are many armies, and very scared villagers. Children see soldiers every day, and guns and tanks. So when they play they say 'I'll be a sergeant.' This affects education. In 1998, schools were burnt so many can't go to school. Many children study at the mosques.

"It is hard for us to find justice. If we want to solve this conflict we must have education. Peace education is the best way to tell how important peace is in life. Banda Aceh has the first of its kind peace education program, based on Islamic and Aceh tradition, in Indonesia. Most of the program aims are Muslim. They include the ability to respond to conflict without bloodshed; how to neutralize violence; strengthen tolerance in a diverse world; develop moral character for young adults; good Islamic qualities; and how to act as responsible members of society.

"The program allows children to play a dominant role in their own learning. It allows children to discover ways to deal with conflict creatively. This training is just given to students, because they must be the leaders of the future. In the material we also show how we evaluate ourselves and integrate our values into our community. We have a section on looking within, on introspection, which asks about daily behaviour.

"For adolescents, your mouth is your tiger. We teach how important their speech is. If you make a mistake, it will have many effects on society. At first Aceh people were pessimistic when we presented this training to the students. People said it doesn't reach those who do the conflict -- give it to GAM and TNI (the Indonesian military) -- not to the children! Our answer was that soldiers want to fight, so the training won't be successful with them. Our peace education has games, drums, and a relation with students' daily life. In Aceh, training means just discussion, so this [participatory method] is something new.

"Being a trainer of peace education makes me feel I make a contribution. We create peace in ourself first, then in our society. Most students after the training have more knowledge about equality. Women always get second place in Aceh. It is a culture where women can't be leaders. In the family the boy gets an opportunity to do everything, but the girl just stays in the kitchen. Girls' highest education is senior high school, and then they marry. As a trainer I give hope to people that violence can be solved without violence. I've been training since 2000. I want to learn from you!"

The panelists began to take questions. The first question, from a Canadian trainer, was for Clotilde: "What gender trainings do you do?"

Clotilde answered, "First we have introductions. We ask women what they are proud of about themselves. Most never talk about their ethnic identity, but they will say things like they are proud about being tall, or beings mothers, or their coloring. Then we ask them what shocked them the most about the war. Many talk about the family violence. The pain of the war is still hidden, and women couldn't talk in public about it. Then we ask them what they felt after the shock. Some said hatred, rebelliousness, frustration; they expressed their feelings in different ways.

"Then we ask them their first reaction after the shock. Some said they cried or fought with their husband, or joined an association. From this they learn there are many possible reactions to hurt. At the end the trainers start a dialogue. We ask ourselves why does no one want to talk about the shock they received due to their ethnic identity? The trainers were surprised to see no one talked about that, while it was the ethnic pain that was the real hurt.

"The last exercise involved handing out pieces of paper with an image that could be seen in different ways -- say an old woman or a tree -- depending how you looked at it. We asked each woman to interpret what she perceived. They were so different. We concluded we are different people, with different perceptions but all these perceptions were good. The trainers and participants realized there were many common perceptions of the hurt. So the different reactions could actually help to solve the conflict. We have made a manual.

"This training helped inner healing to take place, bit by bit. It led participants so each woman can open herself up. In trainings for victims of sexual violence it is only women. Their shock is deeper. Sexual violence is taboo in Burundi. We had several workshops for this. We could not talk about it in public, but with survivors working in pairs, we could talk about it.

"I will tell you one experience. One woman had a 13-year-old daughter who was raped. The girl was so shocked she lost the ability to talk or walk. They were afraid of accusing the perpetrator of the rape. That's very often the case in Burundi -- parents think, what's the point of exposing my daughter when there is no hope of getting justice? I went to talk with her and brought them food in the hospital. I asked the mother, 'what's the problem?' Finally one day the mother said, 'I will tell you but tell no one else, not even the doctors'. At the end she was ready to lodge a legal complaint. This is very rare. We got help for the girl from Medicines sans Frontiers -- she now can walk again."

Zulfinar was asked what the reactions of religious leaders are to her peace work. "For the religious leaders peace education has a big relation to Islam. The imam is very respectful of this program; also the Christians, because we have lessons on how we are different but also the same. We talk about examples from other religions."

Another participant asked if any of the speakers worked with men, and if so, what is their role and their impact, especially when they are the abusers?

In Zimbabwe, the men's activist group PADARE works against sexual violence. "PADARE's work against violence against children is very effective and got lots of media coverage. PADARE conducts sessions for men explaining what it actually means to be a man vis a vis gender. They are setting up offices around the country. When anti-violence messages are said from man to another man it has greater impact. We invite NGOs like PADARE to our workshops," Maria said.

Marianne commented, "Everything must be put into context. Many definitions are possible. In Kosov@ women weren't ready to look at what their own men were doing to them. For them violence meant ethnic violence -- what Serbs did to them. In the Czech Republic everything had been politicized [under the Communist regime], so women there are now trying to carve out a personal space. Yet if Czech women want to stay home with children, western feminists might say this is political because it depends on if the husband has enough money."

Small groups today were formed around the constituencies participants worked with: youth, immigrants and refugees, rural communities or faith-based constituencies.


The small group working with faith-based constituencies included trainers from Canada, India, Sierra Leone and the USA. The discussion on victimization and working with men began with an example of a man from Sierra Leone who was "forced by rebels to have sex with his own mother and sister in front of the whole village. He ended up a commander of a rebel battalion. He was very unusual, because [in cases of sexual violence] he would kill the perpetrator, rather than forcing the victim to marry the perpetrator. Unfortunately he was killed."

The discussion then began on the difficulties of bringing up issues of sexual violence among faith communities. In addition to the common reaction of victims being blamed for their own suffering, accusing co-religionists of abuse can be seen as betrayal of the entire community or showing a lack of faith. Women seeking justice face ostracism or punishment, especially if the abuser is a religious leader. "It is very difficult to break the silence about how we've been violated and how we violate people," said one woman. "In the US mothers praise their sons and send them off to war. We haven't talked about the violence that women do."

"The war system needs gender and gender roles need the war system," said another participant. War can only be eliminated if people take a critical look at the way men are socialized to be violent, and women are socialized to support violence, she believes. Gender roles must change if war is to be stopped. "For me the hardest thing to confront are religious people who say gender roles are ordained by God. Where can we even begin with this?"

A Canadian trainer gave an example of finding allies in unexpected places and confronting her own stereotypes. "Some leftist Christian nuns asked me for From Violence to Wholeness training [a Christian nonviolence training developed by Pace e Bene]. It is hard for me to work with Catholic nuns who stay within the Church. I explained that the training challenges some religious stuff and does include a revolutionary interpretation of the Gospels. The nuns said okay and so I did the training for 45 nuns and two Franciscan brothers. It was amazing. I thank them for helping me to go beyond my own stereotypes. They have decided to conduct their fight within the Church. Some of the nuns will not go to Mass anymore until women are ordained. The Franciscans asked for a one-week training on the Christian interpretation of nonviolence in the Gospels. At the end of the training I asked the nuns to make sure someone was ready to provide spiritual guidance when they returned to their community. The nuns said what was most difficult for them was that they were not allowed to talk about the internal fights within their community -- they were Christian, so they weren't supposed to talk about personal emotions. They returned home determined to deal with conflict in a healthy way. Some nuns said later that the training totally transformed their community."

The often experienced gap between shared values and the implementation of those values was also painful for many participants. "For most of my peace work I've worked in secular groups, and lately in religious peace movements,' said another trainer. The "incredible" values that the religious peace groups promoted "are never carried out in the work place. We are all deeply wounded when sexual assault happens within our own groups, because it does betray our own values." Blowing the whistle on abuse within a peace group can mean ostracism, accusations of lack of commitment, and/or the threat of losing one's job.

Another trainer with a background in organizational development spoke up. "When we talk of organizational violence, people make again a distinction between the personal and the public. But it is not the personal, it is the whole organizational culture that allows violence in the organization. It is a question about how power is shared within the organization, about leadership."

It's not the teaching, it's the leaders

A trainer from India agreed. "How can the approach be made into practice? The minute they [men] feel threatened we lose the opportunity to conscientize them. It's not the religious teaching, it's the religious leaders who create the problem. My peace group tried to organize some communal religious dialogues. During the dialogues some participants tried to abuse the other group. The representative from the Muslim community took the dialogue as an opportunity to say Hindus are the real enemies. The result of the dialogue was negative. We learned from this that we have to have personal talks with the leaders beforehand. We didn't make proper preparation.

"Right now we are working with a Muslim women's group in a fishing community. It was hard to get an entry into the community, as they were suspicious of us. We gained their confidence and had informal sessions with the local women's group. But the problem is when we plan the future they immediately quote their religious leaders as not permitting this. For example, we wanted to have a meeting with them outside the community. The women said no -- our men won't allow it, it's against our religion.

"We then talked with the men leaders, who were supportive and gave a place for the meeting near the mosque. But the women wouldn't come because women don't go into the mosque in this village. So much has been internalized in the women's minds."

Both within faith communities and between faith communities, gender issues are controversial and bound by silence. "The question of the hijab [proper Islamic dress code] is very volatile, especially between Christians and Muslims. What does this [hijab] mean? Is it an honor/ shame construct? What is the source of the shame? It is very, very difficult to talk about," said another trainer.


There were several workshops during the afternoon. The Personal and Political, facilitated by Jill Sternberg (USA) continued to look at issues raised in the plenary. The workshop's co-facilitator, Florence Sissako was unable to attend the consultation because of the impact of the political on the personal. She is an asylum seeker in Germany, and was unable to complete the necessary bureaucratic processes in time. During the workshop stories and experiences were shared, focusing on training approaches and methods that emphasize the connection of personal power with political action and organizing. This was done by creating human statues and sculpture. Each participant was invited to make a statue that shared her understanding of integrating the personal with the political. The discussion's focus, coming out of this body work, was the lack of depth/connection the participants were having with each other as a larger group, despite the sharing of personal stories. The importance of ritual in moving to a deeper relating was discussed.

Julienne Mukabucyana (Rwanda/France) related her very moving personal story as a refugee, and the subsequent nonviolence trainings she has done with traumatized women, in Training with Frightened Populations. Ia Verulashvili (Georgia) spoke on the situation in her country and shared the work of the Women's Center in Tbilisi in the workshop on Training Communities about Gender-Related Violence.

Virginia Pilua of the Solomon Islands conducted a workshop on Training in Areas of Violent Conflict, while Joanne Sheehan (USA, and chairperson of War Resisters International) conducted a very well attended workshop on Strategic Planning.


Virginia began with an introduction to the history of the Solomon Islands, which gained independence from Great Britain in 1978. The Islands have a population of 447,000 and 87 languages. There is one common language, Pidgin, which is commonly used to communicate among the islands. Tensions, resulting in armed conflict, broke out between 1998-2003.

There is a government Ministry on Home Affairs with a Women Development Division (WDD), and a National Council of Women (NCW). Both are focal points for women in the islands. The WDD does training in family life skills, cooking, land and income generation. Groups critical of the government normally work more with the NCW than the WWD.

The National Council of Women provides an avenue that promotes mutual understanding and networking cooperation. There are NCW focal points that are responsible for training, information, projects, and overall development for women. The NCW works to facilitate women representation at all decision making levels, both government and private sectors, and to ensure that women's views and concerns are heard.


Lack of opportunities created an exodus from many of the smaller islands to Guadalcanal, where the capitol Honiara is situated. When tensions broke out many people living in Honiara went back home. "There were a lot of workers without jobs, laid off and homeless," said Virginia. "This really affected the whole country. On 5 July 2000 there was an attempted coup. The civil unrest became a national problem. It affected the ability of government to provide services. The following June there were five attempted coups. People were left homeless, with no clothes, as property was looted and destroyed. Foreign governments evacuated their citizens, and women and children were cut off from essential services. In a drastic action in the interests of safety some sanctions were indirectly imposed. There was severe economic hardship."

"The conflict affected relationships between people, the relationship between central government and the provinces, and relationships between families and tribes. All public services, education, health, law and order broke down," Virginia continued. Civil society, especially women organized through already existing church networks, kept society going. After much killing and civilians left homeless, Australian armed forces under the Regional Assistance to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) intervened.

"Lot of things came back to normal. But still in rural areas there is fighting. RAMSI says it will stay for decades, until normalcy is returned. We fear as soon as RAMSI goes back, the fighting will break out again. Now only two islands are involved in the conflict: Guadalcanal and Malaita. The fear is that more will become involved. Women have lots of problems because of the fighting. Now soldiers are getting involved with girls. During the coup the militants could do anything they wanted to do. They left their wives and got young girls to live with them. If the girls objected the militants said they would kill them. Now mothers don't work. A lot of women stay at home. The father is the only one who is working, but he is with another girl."

After the coup the group Women for Peace (WFP) formed under the NCW. Within six days Women for Peace were going to the rebel bunkers to "talk with the boys to leave the guns," Virginia said.

The WFP met with the militants on all sides, raising issues by women on law and order, and the conditions of children and mothers. "During the visits we prayed, sharing God's words, and food, and advice from mothers. After all, they were our children so we brought them food. We met with government leaders, too, with the Governor General, the Acting Commission of Police, diplomatic missions, to discuss law and order issues with police, women's role after the elections in 2000, and the laying down of arms. Women pleaded for a special peace service of women, to help the nation. Women's appeal for peace asked for all to be united and to put aside individual agendas. A thousand women were involved--now a 100 women are active."

In several cases the women met with police officers, bringing them food and urging them not to abandon their posts. Rebels targeted police for killing, and raided police armories for the weapons inside. Some police were abandoning the armories. Women also surrounded the Parliament house to pray for peace, and opened the election campaign with prayers for peace. Weekly prayers meetings were organized every Wednesday in the capital, and forums and conferences were also organized. Women became part of the cease fire talks. "Talks were being held on a warship, and men from the other party would not come close. So the women went to the warship, to create the right atmosphere so the men could talk to each other and shake hands."

Women from villages came to participate in these activities. Women went to displaced peoples camps, to share food and encouragement, visited the injured in hospitals. Such travel was very dangerous, as rebels controlled the roads. In many village areas women could not travel to the markets for food. In towns this meant shortages of vegetables, while women in the bush ran out of salt and kerosene. "Through the Catholic sisters and churches, we exchanged baskets," Virginia said. "We used our own money to buy soap or other necessities, then traded these for vegetables with the rural women, so people could have what they needed." The visits also allowed WFP to interview rural women and learn about problems they faced.

The women's work for peace continues. Two weeks before the consultation WFP organized a peace forum, in order to explore reconciliation. "There was reconciliation happening there between the women of the different islands, shaking hands. We have 50 constituencies in nine provinces," Virginia said. "We invited them to talk about what action they can do to help out in the provinces. In the Solomon Islands we have strong churchwomen's organizations among Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans, and smaller churches like the Assembly of God. Although they recognize our work, we get no support from the churches. Men don't support us. Some of our work for peace is funded by the Canadian government."

The lack of support for women's work is not new. Some traditions support a low view of women's capabilities. "In our tradition we pay bride price, using shell money. The men think because they buy a girl he owns her. Her area is in the kitchen. If he's paid bride price and she doesn't produce children, the parents-in-law tell her 'we paid for nothing'. The man will leave her, because he's tired of hearing his parents complain. It's a problem a lot of women face problem, because men desert the family, or just go out drinking. Now we involve youth in our workshop, to try to change this. In my family the boys cook!" Virginia said.

RAMSI remains in the Solomon Islands, although most of the rebels have been imprisoned. "Soon the prison will be full. Women for Peace go to prison to visit the rebels. I think a lot of rebels are changing their life. A lot of the women are now working mothers, as the husbands are in prison, and government is not helping them. Some of our women go to the villages and do trauma counselling to help. We have about 25 paralegal trainers, women trained in women's rights, who also go to villages.

"Now that RAMSI is there, people are frightened to do things. If RAMSI leaves there will be more fighting across the whole Solomon Islands. We need to help people to reconcile. We have customs that stop us from fighting and taking revenge. But it will take time. What we need is empowering women to come up with new things, to carry out the work they are doing now. Money is the problem there. We are now living with donor money. We need your support to help a lot of women who are now crying, alone. We need information on how women in other countries tackle conflict," she concluded.


Summary: This participatory workshop was to identify training tools to help groups think strategically and develop nonviolent campaigns. Going through the four-step process, the group shared exercises and approaches to describe, analyze, create a visionand develop strategy.

Joanne presented principles and sources of inspiration for nonviolent strategic planning:

  • Barbara Deming, US feminist peace activist, said that "Nonviolence is an exploration, one that has just begun." She believed that women would be the ones to develop creative nonviolence.
  • Human rights pioneer Charlotte Bunch wrote about four steps in the process of developing a strategy in her article "Toward a Feminist Strategy". The problem or situation must be described first, then analyzed as to reasons why it exists. We need to develop a vision of what we want and a strategy to get there.
  • A feminist approach to process and strategy is participatory, using consensus decision-making and an affinity group structure for nonviolent actions.

Nonviolence training includes training in participatory process and structure.

  • Gandhi, who described nonviolence as an experiment in truth, said there were three elements of social change: personal transformation, political action and constructive program.
  • A basic definition of both feminism and nonviolence is respect for oneself and others.

Methods to develop strategy:

Describe the problem or situation

  • Consciousness raising groups -- describing the oppressive situations we experience.
  • Listening Project Community Surveys -- An organized way of asking questions that encourage people to look deeper at an issue, describing their feelings and perceptions, creating the potential for transformation. (


  • Clotilde described the conflict tree exercise. Draw a tree with roots, a trunk, and branches with fruit. Participants identify the roots (causes), the fruits (consequences), and the trunk (the institutions that uphold the system). Start with the roots by writing down the cause, considering the culture and political situation. Gladys described a variation: we must cut the problem's roots, which is sometimes difficult because they are buried. Joy also had a variation: describe the roots that are vices and those that are virtues by dividing the tree into two sides.
  • Get the community together to "MAP" the community -- describing the leadership, institutions, etc, needed to describe a problem.

Analyze why the problem exists

  • Ask participants in strategic planning: who is part of and supportive of the oppressive and supportive structures. What holds them up?
  • Exercises that help develop the analysis include the Goss-Mayr's inverted triangle analysis; an allies barometer to identify supportive segments of society; and a problem tree which lists problems and objectives.

Vision as to what do we want? Creating vision and goals

  • SMART goals -- make goals Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based.
  • Exercise: Create an ideal world or village
  • Use visualization to get people thinking. To identify intermediate term goals, ask "What would you like this community to look like in 10 years?" You can then determine what steps are needed to get to that goal.

Strategy means how to get from here to there.

  • Grid: make a large plus sign (+) on the floor with tape. At opposite ends of one line write "nonviolence" and "violence". At opposite ends of the other line write "effective" and "not effective". The trainer gives an example of an action, and asks participants to place themselves on the grid nearest to the points that best describe what they feel about the action. (for example, nonviolent and effective to violent and not effective). Ask people why they are standing where they are. Write down comments made to improve the action. This is a way to test ideas and improve on them.
  • Role plays to test strategy ideas.

Evaluation is important to the process of strategy development.


Today's theme on integrating the personal with the political resonated with many participants. Many reflected on the difficulty of combing political activity with family life, given that women are considered primarily responsible for maintaining family life. Some challenged the framing of the question, however: "It is not so much a question of integrating the personal and the political. Separating the personal from the political is to deny that the personal is political. Otherwise the system is left unchallenged."

Others defined the question as "how do we integrate and balance the personal and political?

  • A constructive program needs personal transformation.

Discussion and analysis are connected.

  • We don't think that a group of men would come out with the same solution. "Domestic violence is a family matter; it's not your business." This is what most men say. The problems are worse when a woman is economically dependent on men.
  • Culture discriminates against women.
  • The whole afternoon we experienced that some women are crying. How do we reconcile ourselves with the suffering that we have? By not using revenge? How do we support and connect with and empower each other when we experience suffering? (This is what motivated some women to engage in political work.)
  • How do we nurture this relationship with all these women here? Women never ask for what they need. We are denied as women. Assertiveness is so difficult in an Asian context.
  • How do we adjust these different tools for work in our own communities?
  • In the Philippine context, talking about gender is more dangerous than talking politics. Our trainer had to do a survey before she conducts a training.
  • As trainers we bring the issue and the participants bring the experience though sometimes it's more complicated.
  • All violence against women must be criminalized.
  • We would like to find ways to heal wounds in us and around us. How do we deal with our own stress when we see suffering around us?
  • What sustains us to continue our work?


Summary:Gender includes men. What are the best ways to work with men and boys during trainings? How can trainers bring up difficult issues and also avoid defensiveness and backlash? Asking men and boys what they need may be ways to begin. Focusing on different sectors in society -- youth, women, elders -- and involving all the sectors in peacebuilding can be very successful. Mobilizing these sectors may be accomplished through the traditional (and culturally-specific) means of drama, dance and music. Exposure visits to already existing organizations and projects can also stimulate new ideas and enthusiasm for peace work.

A healing circle

Some participants, after listening to or sharing stories of great pain during the previous few days, asked for a healing ritual. The morning began with such a ritual, coordinated by Jill Sternberg. All the women present stood in circle and called out the name of a woman who inspired them, and the name of a woman who was dead or suffering because of injustice. Many women spoke movingly of their mothers, grandmothers or aunts, childhood friends, or older women peace activists whose struggles continue to inspire them. There were stories of great pain and violation. Several women mentioned dead friends, killed by neglect or abuse from medical institutions because their lives as women were not valued. Others spoke of relatives or close friends dead because of gender violence. There were stories of great courage and persistence.

After a break, Janine Ahie, director of the YWCA in Aotearoa/New Zealand, shared her personal story. She began with a traditional greeting in the Maori language. "You always have to greet your hui (ancestors, the entire community) -- this is where mana (personal power) comes from," she explained. "I come from a strong line of powerful women. I am an indigenous woman, and wherever I go my grandmothers are always with me. Our power comes from our spirituality and our land. I cannot comprehend some of the violence you come from. We haven't had that kind of armed violence in Aotearoa for years, but we do have injustice and oppression. [Janine later conducted a workshop on the current situation of Maoris in Aotearoa].

"A good facilitator is flexible, so I've changed my talk. I'd like to celebrate our spirits and bring back some laughter. This is not to diminish the emotions we have felt, but we Maori like to laugh and have fun.

"I use this exercise as a warm-up activity when I work with young women. So push back your chairs! This is about team building and picking out leaders in the group. Make groups of six to eight people. Put your right hand in and grab somebody, put your left hand in and grab somebody else. Unravel yourselves into a full circle. When you work with young people, the last group to finish this exercise usually gives up, so we give them some encouragement by clapping and shouting for them."

Amid much laughter and talking, the small groups finally untangled themselves into small circles. Janine then asked all participants to join hands in one large circle and to move closer and closer together in a spiral. Once the group was tightly packed together, she then gave the challenge: unravel the group from the inside out without breaking the circle. This, too, was accompanied by much laughter and energy.


The moderator Okama Ekpe-Brook introduced today's theme. "How do we bring our trainings to broader audience? Who do we ally with? How can we mobilize men to be part of an alliance to spread our work with wider audience?" she asked. She introduced Janet Wambedde (Uganda) as the first speaker.


"I'm going to begin with the Bible,"Janet said. "Proverbs in the Bible talks a lot about gender, development and non-violence. I have four verses about gender. The first is 14:1 on women and development: 'the wise woman builds her house but the foolish one tears it down'. Next: 'a gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh one stirs up anger.' 17:1 also relates to development: 'better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.' Verse 28:2 is about politics: 'a country is rebellious, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.'

"I am not here to preach but to show that even in faith-based movements there are ways we can bring out things to ensure we get all the people on board. I work with the Association of World Education (AWE) in Uganda. Uganda has over 252 languages and four major ethnic groups. We had a liberation war, and in 1980 alone we had three presidents. The change of rulers was not peaceful. Many of the ethnic groups hated each other.

"During the Idi Amin period (1971-1979) there were many atrocities. There was another war to get him out of power. Women were spies, cooks and more. Later there was yet another war, waged by a woman named Alice in the name of the spirit, because she felt the current government was not listening. This was the Holy Spirit Movement and it used magic and rituals to fight.

"Now in northern Uganda we have the Lord's Resistance Army, which uses rape and the abduction of children to fight. In the northeast there is another problem with cattle-based pastoralists versus settled groups. In all this conflict it's women who suffer most. Back in their own homes their husbands, brothers, and sons are killed, leaving women as heads of households. This is seen as almost normal now, so there is little support for the women. Simultaneously with all these conflicts is the violent social war against women.

We don't use the word gender

"AWE does not deal with the war in the North, but in the smaller conflict in the northeast. We mobilize the communities, which are very patriarchal and rural. You cannot enter the community unless you go through men. We try to mobilize the men through the educated people, in order to woo the leaders. The leaders will not accept people unless they consult the diviners -- modern leadership does not apply in this community.

"We mobilize the traditional leaders through the elites, who tell them about AWE. This way we can talk with them about issues of non-violence and the importance of women in this community. We don't use the word gender -- they won't understand because it's a foreign word.

"We try to get support from the leaders, then mobilize the youths from the community. We train them in drama, music, dance and storytelling, which are used for communication. We train youths in different ways so they pass on the message through the poems and music. We invite some people who have specialized skills in gender and nonviolence to come and talk to the youth.

"Then we ask the leaders to invite for us the women. We have a dialogue with the women because they have a role in influencing the conflict. The women go back and share this with their husbands. In this way we involved all the people in the community. We do have another methodology: the local system of meetings (or atem -- meetings called by traditional leaders to respond to specific things that have arisen in the community.) At these meetings we ask the youth to do a drama. The women's groups also present their messages. We connect these different groups to the national level by encouraging national women's groups to come and train the women's groups. We organize some exchanges, to help the women visit other communities and places. Most of the women have never seen a city. When they go out and have experiences they come back transformed and with ideas of things to do.

"The media is very important in these conflicts. Many times the media depicts a very wrong picture of these communities. When we invite the media to come and see the music, dance and drama, they are then able to report the right thing about these communities. I will end with a statement from women in my community about clearing fields: if we join our hands we shall make a bigger impact. So when we leave here let us find a way to join our hands!"


Rasoamihamina Razananoely (Noely) from Madagascar then spoke. She works with FIEFA/MIR (an IFOR branch), the National Action Plan for Gender and Development, and is in many gender networks. "There have been numerous mass movements in my country," she said. "Madagascar is the fourth biggest island in the world. Since independence the country has been getting poorer and poorer. In 1960 we became independent from France. In 1972 students started strikes and a neocolonialist movement gave power to a military regime, and then a socialist regime. In 1991 this was overthrown after a long mass movement. So it was replaced by a liberal regime. But this regime lacked strong policies so the former leader of the socialist government came back to power until 2001.

"FIEFA/MIR was established in 1992 to spread the message of nonviolence. It works for active nonviolence (ANV), organizes trainings, actions and awareness raising. Some have left the movement to become ministers in the new government. Almost all of us are new members, so we must build capacity. We must associate with others in this field. We want to build a three-year program linked with the national education process. We want to link with teachers to establish the message of nonviolence because children are the future. We want them to learn about nonviolence from a young age.

"Many religious groups ask us for trainings. There are in particular two villages subject to turmoil where our members raised awareness in order to reduce violence.

Women in Madagascar

"There are many inequalities for women because of traditions and our culture. More women than men are poor. Women earn lower wages for the same type of jobs. There are more illiterate women than men, and women have a work overload because they also have to do domestic work. They work 17 percent more than men. When women are not married or can't have children, they are excluded from society. Because of poverty there are many free trade zones for cheap labor. In these areas wages are very low and many women work here. They deserve to earn more.

"There is a national action plan for gender. It is called PANAGED. It has three main programs: to mainstream gender in institutions and development projects; to improve women's economic status (for example, women's access to land, protection for rural women, access to the formal sector, and diminishing the workload of women, especially in the domestic sphere) and to improve the legal and social position of women. FIEFA works especially in this area here. We want more training to reduce violence against women, to analyse social laws, and more female representation in decision making. There is a Gender Research Network of women and men who exchange experiences in regular meetings. We use tools such as social economic analysis based on gender."


Ia Verulashvili then spoke. "Georgia is a country of five million people. In 1921 we became part of the USSR. Georgia was rich, with sea, mountains, a road between Europe and Asia. In 1991 we became independent. In 1992 there was a civil war with the ethnic Muslim minority in Abkhazia. Russia helped incite this war. It was very strange and unexpected for us. We have another conflict in the middle of South Ossetia. There are some 100,000 IDPs in the country, half of them women. In 2001 about one and a half millions Georgians emigrated. This is a big problem.

"Women experience violations of their legal rights. There is trafficking of women and children, domestic violence, homeless children, and health problems like AIDS. I am the head of the Women's Center in Tbilisi. We work on women's rights, on improving laws, against trafficking, on women's leadership, domestic violence, and on reproductive rights. We have a small group that works on peacebuilding.

"We conducted the first investigation of women's rights in Georgia. It is a very traditional culture. There are many problems in each district. Women don't know their rights. We have reviewed all laws to see how they affect women, and made brochures to educate people. We have set up a hotline to answer women's questions, and a two-year training in women's leadership. At first the government denied there was a problem about women's status. But we analyzed who left the country. It was many young girls. 'Travel' agencies would pay their tickets and promise them an education, which she must repay. These agencies were essentially buying these girls from their parents. We used the mass media for a big awareness campaign on this, but it was not enough to achieve anything. There is no law to punish traffickers.

"So five NGOS joined together to lobby for a new law. The American Bar Association helped us to set up a group of lawyers to draft a law with international experts. We successfully submitted this to parliament and it was passed. Now there is an action plan on the prevention of trafficking.

"One group can do nothing. If we want to do something we email each other and in one or two hours we are all together. Now we have legislation on domestic violence.

We need close contact with the government and parliament. We have trained parliamentarians, and now have collaboration with the head of the Health Ministry. This is the only way possible to achieve a good result. If there is no law, no action plan, nothing will work.

"Now we are lobbying for a section in Parliament to work on the prevention of gender violence. We want to lobby for a gender sensitive budget. This is very important because we don't want to take the money away from breast cancer or women's health. We created a very active group. We publish in local newspapers articles about legislation, how to do a breast examination, etc. We see lots of women who come to the Center with this newspaper and say, oh I found a lump -- help me.

"In terms of peacebuilding, we have created a small unit to translate materials into Georgian. We've set up a network of NGOs who want to work on this. If we get information we give it openly to everybody because some groups cannot find funding. So we share information. Parliament is empty of women, so we decided women need some education. You never see women involved in peace negotiations. Women must be there. During the Parliament election last year [2003] we translated materials on peacebuilding to have a nonviolent election. We made the materials so that every trainer can make use of them in their workshops. We need women in Parliament, not just because they are women, but because they know peacebuilding."

There was a question about what a gender sensitive budget is. Okama then wished Ia happy birthday and announced a workshop by Peter Slattery on working with men and boys.


"It's a scary privilege to be here," Peter began. "Thank you. I regard it as an honor. I have been working 25 years with people having a hard time, especially with families and boys. It was in India where I first heard a man talking about gender. I asked him what made him take up this issue. 'I'm a man,' he said. 'It seems impossible to me not to be involved in this issue. Men are involved in violence and as a man I have some responsibility to help men leave violence.' To explore gender we can focus on many places. The focus of my work with men is on what we value, what we believe in, and how this is reflected in what we do.

"I'm speaking as a white, non-indigenous man. Gender is part of everything we do. So whenever you work it includes gender. Men are scared about gender. Many men become defensive because men have been attacked -- for very good reasons -- when the talk turns to gender. The exercises I will do with you are things I would do with men and boys.

Values and Meaning

"Write down in pictures or words: What is it that gives your life meaning and purpose? What do you hold close to you? Write this down. Look at what you've written -- is anything there that is the most important? What stands out?"

Peter then asked the participants to get in small groups of five or six to talk about what they wrote down, and to make a body picture/sculpture/image of one thing that gives meaning to their lives. Making such physical images helps people who are illiterate, he pointed out, or who are speaking a language that is not their mother tongue. "There is also lots of discussion about men not being good in talking," he said. "In this exercise we are trying to find out what matters to men, so that we can have a conversation. So if you feel threatened and attacked, as men are these days, instead of telling men anything, ask them things. I emphasize that the men I work with have absolute privacy and control over what they say. Just to focus on who you are and how you respond, that's gender. I move from playful to serious, from general to personal, from power relations in the world to power relations in your family."

The next exercise was also one about identity. "It's a simple activity to focus on who we are as a people. Tell the person next to you were you come from. Were you born inside Europe, or outside Europe? The second activity -- stand on this side of the room if you speak two or more languages."

"Let's move into something a little more serious," Peter said. "Boys are supposed to be tough. Many boys won't have a go at a new thought or emotion because they are scared. If they walk down street nobody will notice them, unless they are violent. I worked with one young fellow who would scream everywhere 'what the fuck you looking at?'. He draws attention to himself in a destructive way. So I'm asking you two questions I often ask men and boys: stand on this side if you've never felt embarrassed, and on this side if you've ever been embarrassed. What made you feel embarrassed?"

Peter, after warning participants that the next question was about shame, then asked them to stand on one side of the room if they had ever done anything they felt ashamed of, and on the other side of the room if they had never done anything to feel ashamed of. "Now how come you felt ashamed? The most common responses are 'I wasn't supposed to do it,' 'I got it wrong', 'I cheated'.

"If this question raised something disturbing for you, put it in the back of your mind or heart for now. One of the things men and boys have learned is that they need to control. One of the things that helps people grow in resilience is having sense of control. Most of us are prepared to think about these things, and why. But some people, particularly men, experience this as a lack of control. When I talk with men about shame, they don't have to tell me any secrets.

"Another question I often ask is 'what is it that brings out the best in you?'" Participants gave many answers to this question, including feeling loved, trusted; feeling safe, affirmed, being appreciated, no boundaries, being confident, opportunities, self-determination, being connected, being a good model for others, interest, and passion.

"One conversation I like to have with men is what brings out the best in relationships, including male-to-male and female-to-male relationships. One thing men struggle with is how to be powerful but not in control of others," Peter continued. The next exercise explored power in relationships. Two volunteers read out a script. One said "Hello", and the other replied "hello". The first person then said, "You're late" and the other said, "I know."

The volunteers, using the same script, then experimented with feeling powerless or self-confident. One then became a participant, and the other a trainer, in order to explore personal power and position power. "Position makes a difference in a relationship," Peter said. He then asked for two more people to join the volunteers. "You are applying for job at McDonalds," he instructed the four volunteers. "You are all in the waiting room. Try to play in relation to the power or powerlessness you think the other person has." Tones of voice and body language quickly revealed which volunteers were portraying people with self-confidence or a lack of confidence.

"This is a playful way to start to look at power in relation to personal power. I'd take this into an exercise as how I as a man want to have a relationship with my children, or to be at work with women. I'm trying to create a process that respects men. I also often ask men and boys 'How do people see you?' Boys will often answer: 'We're noisy, a problem, rapists, murderers.' It's hard to grow up like that. As men we need to take on our history of violence, but need to not get trapped in that history."

He was asked how healing fits in with this work and if he asks men and boys if they have women role models. He answered, "If we expect men to be in touch with their emotions, then they are. The first healing is to be in touch with emotions. I do ask questions like 'how have women influenced your life? What have you learned from women? From men? Is this linked to sex or gender, power?" Peter then thanked everyone for participating in the workshop, and the group broke for lunch. For more information on his work with men and boys, see

During the break, before the visits to local women's nongovernmental organizations, a fair was held in the foyer of the YMCA. Tables were piled high with goods for sale, produced by refugee and ethnic minority women from Burma as income generating projects.

During the afternoon participants divided themselves into different groups to visit four separate local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The NGOs were:

The Community Health Project, founded by Mrs. Pimjai Inthamul, a prominent grassroots leader who has been living with HIV for the past 16 years. Living through the loss of her husband to AIDS and handling the oppression against people living with HIV, Mrs. Pimjai has integrated Buddhist practice and activism in her personal life and in her work. She approaches her health holistically, combing traditional Thai herbal medicines, meditation, organic food and activism for social change. In the past 16 years, while living with HIV, she has never used chemical drugs.

The Community Health Project helps all oppressed and marginalized groups in Thai society, including youth and elderly people, indigenous women, women from Burma and women living with HIV/AIDS. The Project offers skills development training, counseling, income generation, training on gender awareness, and empowerment training for women living with HIV/ AIDS. The participants visited the Project, located in the village of Mae Rim, some 30 miles north of Chiang Mai, in order to learn more about the Project's activities and to meet with Mrs. Pimjai.

Women's Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE)

Located inside Chiang Mai city, WEAVE is a women's organization committed to working in partnership with marginalized ethnic women from Burma. WEAVE believes that encouraging ethnic women's leadership and developing their status benefits the whole community. WEAVE supports women to expand their power, rights and opportunities through active women's organizations in their own communities. WEAVE has four project areas: early childhood development (WEAVE supports some childcare centers in refugee camps); women's health education, capacity development and income generation. Many examples of the high quality products produced by WEAVE clients (such as slippers, purses, shawls, herbal ointments and cards), which incorporated traditional weaving, were sold during the market. Participants met with the various project coordinators and learned more about their work and the situation of refugee women from Burma in Thailand. WEAVE, PO Box 58, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai 50202, Thailand. Tel. +66 53 221 654; tel/fax +66 53 357 695. Email: Web:

Also inside Chiang Mai city was the office of Education Means Power of Women Engaged in Recreation (EMPOWER), a local NGO that speaks out for the rights and protection of women in the sex industry. The income generated by foreign men visiting Thailand for the purpose of sex is a major source of foreign income for the country. Sex workers, however, are marginalized and discriminated against within Thai society. EMPOWER operates from a feminist perspective, respecting the choices of all women and working from the needs sex workers themselves identify. EMPOWER centers in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai provide legal and health services, language training (particularly in English, so sex workers can better negotiate with foreign clients), skills development, and a sense of community among women. Participants met with the center's outreach coordinator and students and teachers.

The International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP) combines feminist and Buddhist principles and methodology in its work to support grassroots and NGO activists working for social change in the areas of justice and peacebuilding. The core components of IWP's programs are nonviolence, feminism and spirituality to promote social change. IWP conducts its work with activists from India (Ladakh and Tibetans in exile), Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. IWP's work includes trainings, seminars, study tours, and regional and international workshops. The focus of IWP's work since 2003 has been active nonviolent resistance, leadership for social change, gender and diversity, Buddhist peacebuilding, and anti-oppression work between women from the global north and global south. Participants visited the center in Mae Rim and met Ouyporn Khuankaew, the IWP director and co-founder. International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice, 33/8 Sunpong, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180, Thailand. Tel. +66 53 892 507 or +66 53 376 103. Email: or

Energized by the meetings with local activists, the evening's reflections looked at questions such as: How do we bring our trainings in gender and nonviolence to wider audiences of both men and women? What questions have we learned to ask? What will I do with the things I've learned today?


Summary: Participants found exchanging experiences and issues very valuable. While participants' views and experience with gender training, or integrating gender into other training, varied considerably, all participants had a great deal to offer each other. One overriding concern expressed by participants throughout the consultation was how to continue this exchange after the consultation ended. How could they stay in touch with one another in order to keep sharing ideas, resources and questions? The morning's Training Resource Market tried in a very direct way to link women together over shared concerns and to stimulate more professional sharing and networking.

Another recurring issue was the question of finding and sustaining the inner resources necessary for work for social change. This was the issue of spirituality. Renewing inner spiritual resources, retaining one's own personal integrity, and staying in touch with values that first drew one into social change work, were crucial concerns to participants. Specific resources on trauma counseling and healing, especially from gender-based violence, were asked for.


Joanne Sheehan of WRI and Shelley Anderson of the WPP began with a short review of the consultation's original aims. These aims included breaking the isolation of women nonviolence trainers; bridging the gaps between different cultures and social change movements; supporting women trainers in developing methodologies, materials, and modules to integrate gender into their trainings; and exploring new ways of organizing and activism. The two organizers said much progress had been made towards these aims, but that the consultation had always been envisioned as a "beginning, not an end in itself. We wanted to build follow-up in the structural of the consultation itself," said Joanne.

Future plans of the WRI and the WPP were explained, as was what participants could expect in terms of support from the two organizations after the consultation. They emphasized that "the best of what we can do is to come away with needs you have identified and examine how these needs fit into our work capacities."

Joanne Sheehan spoke about War Resisters International's (WRI) new Nonviolence Program. The goal of this program is to develop and distribute resources, including a handbook with case studies and training exercises. The program will include networking; campaigning resources; materials on conscientious objection (to include gender sensitive training); a Dealing with the Past component (on ways communities can heal from the trauma of organized violence, including seeking justice); and workshops and trainings on active nonviolence. This last component will concentrate on development and making available materials on-line.

Shelley Anderson spoke about the IFOR Women Peacemakers Program's (WPP) major areas of work: Nonviolence Education and Training; Networking and Building Regional Capacity; and Engendering the Peace Movement. The WPP can provide some funding for gender-sensitive nonviolence trainings for women, in addition to training materials and links to trainers. Its annual training of women nonviolence trainers accepts applications from women both inside IFOR and in the wider peace movement while its annual internship for young women peace activists is open only to IFOR members. The WPP's regional gender trainings are open to activists in many movements. The WPP also produces a wide variety of training materials, which are provided free or at low cost to activists who ask for them.

The WPP is developing a gender-sensitive nonviolence training manual and participants were asked for their support in conceptualizing and field testing the manual.

After a powerful personal sharing by gender trainer Gladys Gbappy-Brima of Sierra Leone, Ouyporn Khuankaew, director of the International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice, a feminist nonviolence training center in Thailand, conducted a workshop on healing and support for activists.


"There is no word for poverty in the Lanna (northern Thai) language," she said. "This word only appeared some 30 years ago as part of westernization." The concepts underlying the Western idea of poverty are contrary to Buddhism, which emphasizes letting go and living simply. "Development as it is now is a complex system to exploit those who are different. Feminism and nonviolence have to redefine development. For me, when we speak of resources we are being colonized. We are beginning to come up with activists who say 'we can't do this project because we have no budget. We have to find an international donor before we can do our work.' This is sad because we are not seeing what will really sustain us as human beings. Our spirituality is a rich resource. We need to look at our spirits as resources. We need to get out of the capitalist system."

The exercise Ouyporn led the group through was grounded in Buddhist practice. She asked each participant to draw three lines. These would form a triangle to portray either their organization or themselves.

The first line represented material resources, such as training manuals, money, an office, etc. The second line represented the activist's community or support system, such as a lover, friend, family, network or spiritual teacher. The third line represented each activist's inner resources.

The length of each line represented how much of the resource the organization had -- if there was more money than support, then the material resource line would be longer than the support line.

Once the triangles were drawn, Ouyporn asked the participants to get into pairs and talk about their drawing. After ten minutes she continued:

"The next part of this exercise is called building resources. Concentrate on whereever the line is shortest. Answer these four questions:

1 What exactly do I want to do about this situation? Be as specific as possible, and don't list more than three things. For example, if there is a lack of trust in the organization, what do I want to do about it? Prioritize these three items.

2 What resources do I already have in order to accomplish the first priority?

3 What resources do I need? How and where can I get them?

4 How, when and where will I accomplish these goals? What's the time frame?

"We have to believe that it is possible to change, and that we can accomplish what we want," said Ouyporn, who added a last piece of advice. "We have to be prepared to let go if what we want doesn't happen."


A Training Market followed. Participants were encouraged to share and 'shop' for training resources that they needed. Blank charts labeled "Networks", "Strategies", "Exercises and techniques", "Case Studies" and "Written materials" were placed around the large plenary hall. Participants were asked to visit each 'stall' in turn and spend 20 minutes discussing and writing down what they needed and what they could share (see appendices for the complete report on each topic).

Every participant either belonged to or had heard of specific training networks. Some networks were organized around specific issues, such as the Association of Women in Development or for specific regions, such as the Balkan Action Network on Small Arms or CAFOB: Collectif des Associations et ONA Feminines de Burundi. Some useful peace-oriented training networks included:

  • The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP -- which has a women in peacebuilding program WIPNEP), Ampomah House, 37 Dzorwulu Highway, Box CT 4434, Accra, Ghana. Web:
  • The Centre de Resources pour la non-violence (CRNV), 1945, rue Mullins, bureau 160, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3K 1N9. Web:

There were many needs listed for written materials, especially in languages other than English. Success stories of African and Asian women activists and practical training materials on gender and nonviolence topped the list. Materials on spirituality and nonviolence, and how to integrate spirituality into our trainings, were also requested. Some training materials that were mentioned include:

  • "Women and a Culture of Peace" workshop kit and poster from the IFOR Women Peacemakers Program
  • From Violence to Wholeness (FVTW) manual from FVTW, Pace e Bene, 1420 W. Barlett Ave., Las Vegas, Nevada 89106, USA. Web:

A desire for written case studies had been expressed by several participants since the beginning of the consultation. Such studies, whether on specific nonviolent campaigns, individual women activists' work, or particular strategies, were seen as excellent ways to analyze and pass on lessons learnt. Case studies on ways to mobilize rural women trainers, on peacebuilding across different ethnicities and conflict situations, or on counseling for survivors of sexual violence were offered, while studies on how to document success stories, on group facilitation and on finding funding for documentation were sought.

Participants had a great wealth of experience in training strategies, including strategies for working with specific communities, such as lesbians and gays; media workers; rural communities and youth. The needs were also great: how to include men in our work was often cited, as were strategies for working with young people, with illiterate communities, and strategies for building women's leadership in movements that are currently dominated by men.

Among the needs for exercises and techniques there were specific requests for exercises showing similarities between nonviolence and feminism, exercises showing the importance of considering gender in nonviolent trainings for men and women, videos or DVDs that show exercises on gender and nonviolence, and handbooks on training techniques for peace education.

The afternoon workshops included a continuation of issues raised in the plenary session on integrating the spiritual in daily work, facilitated by Ouyporn Khuankaew. The workshop Developing a Training Manual, facilitated by Shelley Anderson, looked at creating a specific resource on gender and nonviolence. After a quick sharing on training manuals, Shelley explained some of the process involved in developing the IFOR Women Peacemakers Program's workshop kit on women and a culture of peace.

One challenge is developing indicators that could measure the success of the workshop kit. Some positive indicators include the fact that some activists have, unsolicited, translated the kit into their own language. Another indicator of usefulness is the fact that other activists have incorporated sections of the workshop kit into their own training manuals. In at least one case, however, the activists involved deleted the gender-sensitive portion of the material they used. Another challenge, she said, was the development of more effective monitoring and evaluation for training materials.

The WPP is developing a training manual on gender-sensitive nonviolence training, she continued, and will ask participants from the Asking the Right Questions consultation to field test the manual. Participants then did two exercises, in reply to a question as to specific exercises about gender.

The first exercise was a gender race, to illustrate why it is important to focus on improving women's second-class status in society. Participants line up as if for a race on one side of the room. They are arbitrarily designated one gender or the other. On the other side of the room a sign has been taped to a wall or chair, stating "Gender Equality". Participants are then asked to take a step back if, in their society, they are primarily responsible for child care; and to take another step back if they are primarily responsible for taking care of household jobs, such as cooking and cleaning. Questions like these are repeated until, in most cases, women begin the race substantially behind men. Rather than a level playing field, men in most societies have advantages over women. In order for gender equality to be achieved, change must be made in women's position. Several participants said they had also used this exercise in anti-racism trainings, where it had sometimes raised very painful memories and tension within the group.

The second exercise involved a quick series of role plays by participants. In small groups of three or four, participants were asked to first portray a group of total strangers meeting at a bus stop. The first role play depicted the supposed interactions of a group of men; the second, a group of women; and the third a group of men and women meeting. Men were portrayed as silent or as jockeying for position. During the exercise with all-women groups, conversation immediately erupted. When 'men' began to harass women waiting at the bus stop, the women reacted with silence, averting their eyes or trying to take up less physical space.

Discussion about the interactions took place in between each role play, which were designed to stimulate thinking about the ways men and women are socialized. "We have to be careful not to fall into stereotypes," said one participant. "What I realized during this exercise was that I really don't know how a man would act."

The consultation ended that night with a traditional northern Thai meal and a closing ritual, followed by dancing and singing. The enthusiastic conversations and high energy during the meal, and the sad goodbyes the next day, resulted in a last question for all participants of Asking the Right Questions: how to continue the sharing?



What I need

  • Ongoing stories like the ones I heard here -- women making peace -- for use in group process resource (Cindy)
  • How to document our experiences? (Sandra)
  • How to document case studies/ lessons learned in work on issues of peace, violence against women, positive action (Sandra)
  • Documentation of training experiences in rural areas (Janet)
  • Mobilization of financial resources for documentation and training (Janet)
  • A review/documentation of women trainers for the past 10 years, especially in Asia/Africa, and what they have been doing with the skills (Okama)
  • How to obtain the case studies exposed here (Noely)
  • Review of the status/effectiveness of IFOR branches in Asia and Africa (Okama)
  • How to document women's stories (Gladys)
  • Success rate on prosecutions of violence against women/ girls (Sahro)
  • I want videos/DVDs of case studies from other countries. (Veasna)
  • Une documentation complète de tout ce qui s'est passé, par exemple -- cassette, video
  • Campaigns on gender and/or nonviolence training
  • How to shape the case studies collected as a resume of those who are in the field of gender (Suseela)
  • Creating spaces for retreat for activists (Ginger)
  • Case studies on how to talk about nonviolence and gender in ethnic conflicts
  • Case studies of women working for gender trainings -- for inspiration and to learn strategies they used (Hami)
  • Stories of empowerment among populations where people do not know how to read or write. (Saswati)
  • Stories and documentation of nonviolent movements and campaigns led by women that successfully resisted co-optation by men. (Jennifer)
  • Faith-based - particularly Muslim and Christian combining nonviolence, feminism and spirituality (Maj Ja, Ginger, Ouyporn)
  • Articles and stories from other organizations showing that nonviolence is not utopian and illustrating the situation in Southern countries and their needs (Sandrine)
  • Case studies from Asian countries that have similar situations as Cambodia (Sarom)
  • How to document women's stories (Virginia)
  • Stories of empowered women (Lee)

What I can offer

  • Case studies of women who have attempted suicide because of gender violence (Suseela)
  • Creative development of peace team training (Jill)
  • Working in partnership across power imbalances (Jill)
  • Violence against Women campaign (Okama)
  • Share information, investigation and research on nonviolence (Natasha)
  • Training for women who are working with victims of violence -- feminist counseling (Sandra)
  • Provide information and mobilize rural trainers (Janet)
  • Doing a gender-sensitive documentation (Gladys)
  • Help in ways of doing that listed above : Documenting success rate on prosecutions of violence against women/ girls (Sahro)
  • Peace march in Cambodia (Sarom)
  • Case statements about using nonviolence in Cambodia (Veasna)
  • Peacebuilding training combining feminism, nonviolence and spirituality from a Buddhist perspective. (Ouyporn and Ginger)
  • Peacebuilding across different ethnicities and conflict situations (Mai Ja)
  • Success stories of people working for peacebuilding at my institution -- from Hyderbad -community worker ; NE part of India, North India (Hami)
  • Interaction Report mailed- half-yearly (Hami)
  • Journal -- articles on interfaith relations, reconciliation (Hami)
  • Courses on inter-faith relations -- library for study at institution (Hami)
  • Share our case studies (Saswati)
  • Stories of empowered women (Lee)
  • Provide information (Virginia)
  • Mobilize rural women trainers (Virginia)
  • Un centre de documentation -- un des plus important de la francophonie -- un journal, un site Internet, une mise en réseau avec d'autres organisations francophones: Un partenariat peut aussi éventuellement être envisagé. (Sandrine)


What I need

  • How to balance social/political activism with social harmony?
  • How to strike a balance between theory and practice? (Hami)
  • Exercises showing similarities between nonviolence and feminism, and the contributions they make. (Cindy)
  • Exercises showing importance of considering gender in nonviolent trainings for men/women. (Cindy)
  • More practical with empowered group
  • A handbook on gender and techniques. How to conduct trainings on gender? (Virginia)
  • Resources on conflict transformation, training techniques and exercises for people in armed conflict
  • Exercices spirituels pour la guérison des traumatismes. (Clotilde)
  • time to collect and sort out the experience
  • more contact, teaching, participation in international workshops, case studies, conferences (Ia)
  • A handbook of exercises and techniques to conduct trainings on nonviolence and gender (Susan)
  • Manual de formation(Clotilde)
  • Etre en réseau avec les autres au niveau régional et en connection avec IFOR (Clotilde)
  • Encadrement au niveau National/IFOR (Clotilde)
  • A video or DVD that related to exercises and techniques for ender and nonviolence and conflict resolution because we want to see the real picture. (Sarom and Veasna)
  • A handbook of exercises and techniques to conduct training on peace education (Vina)
  • Printing materials for exercises for groups of empowered and peace education (Natasha)
  • Handbook with exercises on spirituality (Joy)
  • A more professional way of eradicating FGM (Sahro)
  • What didn't work win which setting, and why not. (Casha)
  • I want to learn more exercises and techniques for training women who are not able to read or write (Saswati)
  • Exercises for schoolchildren on gender and nonviolence

What I can offer

  • Exercises through visual presentations (Virginia)
  • Comparative training techniques -- from teacher-centered to large-group to small-group to experiential (Casha)
  • Training methodologies for conflict resolution skills for teachers, peaceworkers, students (Hami)
  • Project management training (Ysabel)
  • My experience in trainings (Clotilde)
  • Exercises from our From Violence to Wholeness process -- very adaptable (Cindy)
  • Ways to incorporate feminist spiritual practice into nonviolence trainings.
  • A basic manual for group facilitators (Sarom)
  • Training on advocacy, gender-based violence, women and politics, prevention of HIV/AIDS, prevention of breast cancer, prevention of trafficking (Ia)
  • Exercises for inner strength-harmony (Suseela)
  • Exercises through visual presentations (Suseela)
  • Engaging young women (Janine)
  • Interactive games (Janine)
  • Indigenous people's models of social change and development (Janine)
  • Games, exercises on issues of violence against women, identity, discrimination, power, nonviolence, stereotypes, prejudices, gender, sexuality, active listening (Sandra)
  • Handbook with exercises for women empowerment training (Joy)
  • Je peux organiser des ateliers de formation des femmes leaders au niveau communitaire pour la guérison sociale (Clotilde)
  • Je peux participer au niveau régional dans l'organisation et la réalisation des ateliers de formation sur le processus de guérison intérieure (Clotilde)
  • Multi-lingual support for trainings across language boundaries (Casha)
  • Creative design of exercises (TFT), facilitating group dynamics (using issues in the group) and designs with groups (developing agenda together to meet needs of participants.) (Jill)
  • Games, exercises on gender (Okama)
  • Games, drama and the curriculum that is connected to our daily life and culture (Vina)
  • Public relations training (Natasha)
  • My experience and expertise (Sahro)
  • Tools (Lee)

MEDIA TOOLS (Videos, Tapes, DVDs, etc.)

What I need

  • Videos, manuals (Natasha)
  • Video materiale - cassettes, CDs (Julienne)
  • Videos, tapes -- CDs, DVDs (Janet)
  • Videos, tapes, CDs, DVDs (Virginia)
  • Video material especially designed for those who are not able to read and write (Saswati) (Sahro)
  • Video material especially designed for those who are not able to read and write and for those who are not familiar with or never heard of the terminologies we use. (Sahro)
  • Videos/movies that are helpful to learn more about different aspects of peacebuilding (Hami)
  • More videos and CDs on women's lives around the world- as a tool for global action (Sandra)
  • Video materials -- and cassettes -- for the movement (Noely)
  • Video documentaries of women's involvement in struggles for justice, gender rights (Jennifer) (Gladys)
  • Videos-CDs, DVDs (Ia)

What I can offer

  • Economic Literacy Training videos (Lee)
  • Book -- What's Peace Journalism -- with guidelines for NGOs who work with media (Natasha)
  • Mobilisation translation (Janet)
  • "Out of Time" film on archaelogist Marja Gimbetus's work on cultures of the goddess -- evidence of pre- patriarchy cultures. (Jennifer)
  • How to do a documentary on issues concerned (Suseela)
  • Information about creating and becoming the media -- Indymedia (Jennifer)
  • Videos on the conflict in Sierra Leone (Gladys)
  • Collection of music that offers on nonviolence, peace and gender (Susan)
  • Euro Sex -- for work with sex-workers (Sandra)
  • Women's Tribunals (Sandra)
  • Tape documentaries on: (Sandra) Trafficking in persons Violence against gay pride parades in former Yugoslavia Gender-based violence War in Yugoslavia
  • "Peace Grows" peace music CD (Cindy) zContacts with professional translators and interpreters (Casha)


What I need

  • Training strategies in how to work with the media
  • Training strategies in how to work with nonviolence (Natasha)
  • Training strategies in how to involve men in our work (Sahro)
  • Strategies for building women's leadership in movements that are currently dominated by men. (Jennifer)
  • Hands-on/ practical tools on nonviolence and gender (Okama)
  • How do we intervene at the policy level? (Okama)
  • Assistance in how to develop a group-process resource for women, even developing a timeline, etc. (Cindy)
  • How to involve youth and men in our work (Virginia)
  • Training manuals, be involved in network, training programs, implementation in Georgia peacebuilding project, become branch of WPP (Ia)
  • How to help people to overcome their own fear (Sarom)
  • How to get young women to be more involved in social work (Sarom)
  • Training strategies in how to make the people realize about their rights and responsibilities.
  • Trainings on how to integrate gender in conflict resolution skills and to deal with the socio-political situation -- to cater to people's needs (Hami)
  • Training strategies on involvement of men (Saswati)
  • How to reach new audiences, promote training (Jill)
  • Giving rural women an opportunity to experience what other trainers elsewhere are involved in (Janet)
  • Get experience from those who already have been trained and are doing some work in their communities (Janet)
  • Peace training from feminist model (Janine)
  • More training on mainstreaming nonviolence action within an organization/institution (Gladys)
  • Methodologies de renforcement effectif des capacites des mouvement internes de nonviolence (Clotilde)
  • Assistance matérielle pour atteindre tous les mouvements existants et les mettre en réseau. (Clotilde)
  • Integrated -- spirituality, feminism, nonviolence -- training resources -- manuals, programs, etc. (Martine)
  • How to compose a training for maximum effect -- balance of head/heart; fast-paced/reflective; provocative/ reassuring etc. (Casha)

What I can offer

  • Mobilizing rural trainers (Janet)
  • Training in how to work with media (Natasha)
  • Peace journalism (Natasha)
  • Empowering local women (Okama)
  • Developing plans for gender awareness (Okama)
  • Training for grassroots illiterate women (Suseela)
  • Training for couples (Suseela)
  • Gender training strategies for all categories (Suseela)
  • Training for religion/inter-religious dialogue (Sahro)
  • Using religious stories or phrases to emphasize gender equality (Gladys)
  • Women's Center (Ia)
  • Training awareness of domestic violence, trafficking, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS (Ia)
  • Biblical roots of nonviolence (Lee)
  • Training for women and men on feminist spirituality, and on feminism and the Bible (Lee)
  • Economic literacy techniques (Lee)
  • Ideas for organizing spiritual retreats for activists (Ginger and Ouyporn)
  • Spiritual retreats at our training center (Ginger and Ouyporn)
  • Manual on gender and diversity (Ginger and Ouyporn)
  • Training techniques for a peace march (Sarom)
  • Internships for young women (Joy)
  • Mediation training (Joy)
  • Training for grassroots women (Saswati)
  • How to work with and involve men and youth -- manuals, exercises, games, outcomes (Sandra)
  • Trainings -- women, men, youth, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), sex workers, Roma women, disabled women (Sandra)
  • Help organizing trainings for Francophone women's groups (Julienne)
  • Help organize networking with multi-cultural women's group (Julienne)
  • Training for grassroots women (Virginia)
  • Sensibilisation des leaders des mouvements internes centre la violencesur les techniques modernes de formation. Clotilde)
  • Encadrement des membres des cadres déjà créés (Clotilde)
  • We are in the process of developing our manual on peace-based workshops by next year, 2005 (Hami)
  • Empowered approach to gender


What I need help with

  • Should we not give importance first to practice nonviolence and justice in our personal life before training others?
  • More information on reconciliation with one's self.
  • Spiritual basis for sustaining organizations.
  • New forms of structuring and organizing that aer nonviolent and gender-aware.
  • How do we mobilize resources together to be able to reach a bigger audience of trainers? (Janet) (Hami)
  • How do I learn to recognize the cultural embedded-ness of the tools I use? (Lee)
  • Trainings that help to learn the socio-political context of the region. (Hami)
  • How to contextualize local activism in the global struggles for justice (Jennifer)
  • How to develop gender awareness for men (Rini) (Hami)
  • How to express inner sources for self/group sustainability?
  • How to articulate in daily practice spirituality with politics
  • How to develop gender awareness for youth and men. (Virginia)
  • Integration of nonviolence and gender with personal to political perspective -- How to integrate all these among rural populations? (Saswati)
  • The integration of nonviolence into gender more concretely (Okama)
  • Women's role in the peace process in Sri Lanka (Okama)
  • Examples of Resolution 1325 in practice (Okama)
  • Integration of gender into nonviolence concretely (Cindy)
  • How to include spiritual in my trainings (Sandra)
  • Training in reconciliation and nonviolent actions in a post-war situation (Gladys)
  • How to deal with our own fears, weaknesses and worries (Sahro)
  • How to ask the right questions to all people we work with (Sarom)
  • How to involve my culture with new and different ideas
  • How to strengthen the spiritual aspect of a nonviolence approach, as we find everywhere it is getting diluted? (Suseela)
  • How do we address the internal organizational violence (conflicts unresolved) we experience in our groups -- gender related or not? (Martine)
  • Comment créer un cadre de consultation entre les formatrices professionelles et les apprentis pour une meilleure collaboration régulière et une planification commune (Clotilde)
  • Including Georgia in the network (Ia)

What I can offer help with

  • I can offer time and to mobilize local trainers to attend training on nonviolence and gender training (Janet)
  • How to integrate men into our gender awareness programs (Okama)
  • Names and addresses of women from conference for peace in Beirut (Casha)
  • Potential human resources -- that is women -- from Latin America (Argentina, Colombia) Eastern Europe (Russia, Moldova, Lithuania), Paletsine and Isreal, African countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Togo, Benin, Burkina-Faso), and women who are Muslims (Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt). (Julienne)
  • Link with IFPJ-International Federation of Peace Journalists (Natasha)
  • Mobilize journalist trainers from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, Middle East (Natasha)
  • Organize local trainers (Natasha)
  • Organize training in gender awareness (Virginia)
  • Create positive thinking in the people
  • Organize nonviolent trainings from a gender perspective (Gladys)
  • Time/experiences from my country, the Mano River Basin, and West Africa at large (Gladys)
  • Contacts of some women's organization involved in peace work/gender (Gladys)
  • Spiritual practice with strong feminist analysis and many practical applications (Jennifer)
  • Training manual (Ia)
  • Knowledge and research skills for analysis of organizational violence (Martine)
  • Muslim-Christian training (Lee)
  • Organizing nonviolence and gender trainers in Southeast Asia to come together for collaboration and networking (Ouyporn, Ginger, Mai Ja)
  • Ayaih -- a process that integrates the spirituality and practice of nonviolence -- eventually a resource based more on women's spirituality. We work in Latin and South America. (Cindy)
  • je peux participer à tout effort (Clotilde)
  • Contacts with trainers and women on various issues (Sandra)
  • Manuals (Sandra)
  • Contact with various networks worldwide
  • How to create platforms for interactions between trainers


Trainers' Networks I belong to already

  • Pace e Bene -- From Violence to Wholeness- Oakland, California (Martine)
  • Centre de Resources pur la non-violence -- CRNV -- Montreal, Canada (Martine)
  • Networking Alliance for Voluntary Action (Saswati)
  • UN Interagency Gender Working Groups (Okama)
  • UNDP Gender Focal Team (Okama)
  • Pax Christi International (Julienne)
  • Teachers for Peace (Julienne)
  • MIR-France (Julienne)
  • Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (Lee)
  • Peacebuilders -- TPNI (Lee)
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (Lee)
  • Africa Peacebuilding Network -- West Africa (Gladys)
  • African Feminist Movement (Gladys)
  • Action Chrétienne contra la TORTURE -- ACAT -- (Clotilde)
  • Communauté Missionaire Chrétienne Internationale (Clotilde)
  • CAFOB: Collectif des Associations et ONA Feminines de Burundi (Clotilde)
  • Swedish to Christian women's group (Suseela?)
  • Trying to form a local Network of Women Trainers called Mothers of Peace and Community Transformation
  • Internet resources -- (Janet)
  • Association of Women in Development - AWID - (Janet)
  • FEMNET (Janet)
  • WOUGNET -- Internet resource (Janet)
  • Réseau GENRE -- Madagascar (Noely)
  • ASTRA Reproductive health and ___ - Central Europe (Ia)
  • IANSA -- International Action Network for Small Arms (Natasha)
  • BANSA -- Balkan Action Network for Small Arms (Natasha)
  • BUL-MAK (Natasha)
  • CRIN (Natasha)
  • IFPJ -- International Federation of Peace Journalists (Natasha)
  • NGO Parliament (Natasha)
  • WWF -- World Women Foundation (Natasha)
  • New England Nonviolence Trainers Network -- War Resisters League (Joanne)
  • WAVE -- Violence Against Women (Sandra)
  • Regional Network Against Trafficking in Persons, Southeast Europe (Sandra)
  • Informal network of young feminist leaders -- Anti-Mothers (former Yugoslavia) (Sandra)
  • Feminist Net (Sandra)
  • Group of independent trainers - various resources, issues (Sandra)
  • Women in Black (Sandra)
  • Peace Network in Philippines (Susan)
  • EYCC -- Ecumenical Youth Council of Europe, Brussels (Sahro)
  • UNOY -- United Network of Young Peacebuilders, Netherlands (Sahro)

Trainers' Networks I know about but don't belong to

  • RANT Collective -- US, maybe Brazil -- (Jennifer)
  • Women's Program of WANEP (Lee)
  • Women in Peacebuilding Network -WIPNET (Gladys)
  • Akinomama Wa Afrika (Gladys)
  • Lialya za Gorova -- Bulgaria (Natasha)
  • Filip Spirovski -- nonviolence training (Natasha) (note from Dorie: I think this is an individual)
  • SEA VAW Network (Okama)
  • Women in Alternative Agriculture of Northeast Thailand (Okama)
  • Individual trainers in African countries (Suseela)

Trainers' Networks I know about in Latin America

  • I think the RANT Collective has trainers in Mexico and Brazil (Jennifer)
  • I have contact with a few trainers in Latin America (Natasha)
  • I have contacts and will send more information (Susan)
  • Servicio International por la Paz -- Chiapas (Lee)
  • La Strada

Trainers' Networks I know about in the Middle East

  • I have contacts and will send more information (Susan)
  • ISM -- International Solidarity Movement -- in Israel and Palestine (Jennifer)
  • Stop the Wall, based in the US -- I'm not sure they do trainings (Jennifer)
  • I can and will send more contacts (Sandra)
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams, Hebron (Lee)
  • ISIS-WICCE (Janet)
  • I know a few trainers, I will send names and contacts (Natasha)
  • There are some peace education networks


What I need

  • Collection of stories of Asian and African women activists (Okama)
  • Gender and nonviolence -- practical tools (Okama)
  • Information sur toutes les activites de IFOR
  • Manuel practique de formation
  • Spirituality and nonviolence (Joy)
  • Version francaise du principaux manuels (Noely)
  • Tool/manuals for training (Gender and Nonviolence) (Janet)
  • Success stories for women on gender, nonviolence and politics (Janet)
  • Gender and globalization (Janet)
  • Tool/manual for training (Gender and globalization)
  • More documentation on: (Sandra) Gender-sensitive budgeting Engendering our own organizations More materials on different social, cultural and economic contexts (in brief) Including spirituality in our trainings
  • Christian-Buddhist practice (Lee)
  • Gender and nonviolence practical tools (Virginia)
  • Games and exercises that incorporate gender and nonviolence into other issues (globalization, economic justice, etc.) (Jennifer)
  • Written materials on the above (Saswati)
  • Questions for evaluations
  • Human rights -- feminist perspective on empowerment and social justice (Janine)

What I can offer

  • Games, exercises, some manuals, documents. (Sandra)
  • From Violence to Wholeness manual -- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Cindy)
  • Peace Grows curriculum on CD, DVD on a culture of peace (Cindy)
  • Materials on nonviolence/conflict resolution/mediation (Suseela) (Susan)
  • Women's stories from rural communities (Janet)
  • Training materials on gender and peacekeeping -- link 1325 organizations. (Marianne)
  • Olaf Palme Foundation. Website: manual (Marianne)
  • manuals in Serbian and Albanian (Marianne)
  • Written publications for young women (Janine) advocacy/lobbying government sexual reproductive health positive body image how to engage young women in social issues/gender
  • Share our written materials (Saswati)
  • Women in Peacebuilding Training Manual from the West African Network on Peacebuilding (WANEP)
  • info about training


  • Bridge is an on-line database of materials on gender mainstreaming, gender experts and gender and development: BRIDGE, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK. Tel. +44 (0) 1273 606261; +44 (0) 1273 621202. Web: Email:
  • Peacewomen is an on-line resource on news about women's peace activism and developments in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325: (in English, French or Spanish).
  • For a monthly bulletin on new research publications on a wide variety of gender issues, including gender and conflict, gender and globalization, and violence against women, see Email:
  • The United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) operates a Trust Fund to Stop Violence Against Women and publishes materials on gender and peacebuilding (see especially the Independent Experts Assessment on Women, War and Peace). Web:
  • For the latest news and manuals on gender equality and women's empowerment see
  • The United Nations Development Program materials and manuals on gender and good governance, gender mainstreaming and more (see Gender Approaches in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations):

Websites on Men against violence against women:


  • The European Profeminist Men's Network operates a documentation center and database at Toulouse University, France, and an on-line discussion forum (in French and English). Web:; email:;
  • XY: Men, Masculinities and Gender Politics, Australia, published as a magazine from 1990 to 1998, and now is an online forum:


    A Force More Powerful (110 minutes) is an award-winning documentary on active nonviolence during the 20th century. It contains archival images and interviews with activists on pivotal 20thcentury nonviolent campaigns, including the Indian struggle against pass laws in South Africa; the Salt March organized by Gandhi during India's liberation struggle; a city-wide boycott in a desegregation campaign during the US Civil Rights Movement; the rise of civic organizations in South Africa's struggle against apartheid; the Danish resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II; the Solidarnosc victory in Poland; and the nonviolent overthrow of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

    Bringing Down a Dictator (57 minutes) is a documentary on the successful nonviolent campaign, led by students that toppled the Milosevic regime in the former Yugoslavia. Both 'A Force More Powerful' and 'Bringing Down a Dictator' are available from York Zimmerman Inc., 2233 Wisconsin Ave., Washington, DC 20007, USA. Web:

    Nonviolence for A Change, 25 minutes, with viewer's guide, looks at some current nonviolent campaigns in the UK and issues around the use of nonviolence. Available from JustUs Productions, Friends Meeting House, St. Giles, Oxford OX1 3LW, UK. Email:

    Tough Guise: the crisis in the Masculinity, the Media and Violence (80 minutes) looks at how the media's portrayal and reporting of violence helps construct one sort of masculinity, and at how this gender construct is hurting men. Available from Media Education Foundation, 26 Center Street, Northampton, MA 01060 USA. Tel. 800 897 0089 or +1 413 584 8500. Web:

    The Other Voices: Women Exploring the Sacred Spaces, 53 minutes, interviews with women from five different faiths in South Africa who are challenging male dominance. Accompanying workbook is available. Contact: Melody Emmett, The Other Voices, World Conference on Religion and Peace-South Africa, PO Box 93642 Yeoville, Johannesburg, South Africa 2143. Email: Tel./fax 011 6227695.

    Peacebuilding in Tsunami-affected areas

    It is estimated that women comprised up to 70% of Aceh's per-tsunami population of four million people. Men fled the war or emigrated in search of work. According to a short update by Nonviolence International: "Given that more men survived the tsunami because of their physical strength and speed, a horrendous percentage of those killed probably were women and girls."

    The Indonesian government is still operating out of a counter-insurgency mindset which is understandably creating additional challenges for Aceh's recovery. Groups like the Asian Human Rights Commission ( have expressed concerns about the strict control of the Indonesian military over aid stocks and distribution in Aceh. For more information on military obstruction of relief aid see

    Nonviolence International ( had peacebuilding classes in 100 high schools in Aceh, and a peacebuilding course for Muslim religious clerics. UNICEF reports that 1100 schools were destroyed in Aceh. Nonviolence International (email:; web: ) is accepting donations through their website for relief efforts in Aceh.

    Peace Brigades International has returned to Aceh with security and trauma counseling teams.

    Local NGO offices were destroyed in most of Aceh and many activists lost their lives. The office in Banda Aceh of the NGO Relawan Perempuan untuk Kemanusiaan (RPuK -- Women Volunteers for Humanity) was also destroyed, but RPuK activists are providing support to survivors: RPuK, Jl. Air Bersih no 106, Teumpok Teungoh, Lhokseumawe, NAD, Indonesia. Tel/fax: +62 0645 40977. Donations may be made to RPuK. Bank: LippoBank. Branch: Cabang Menteng Jakarta. Account number: 717-10-70975-3. Name of account holder: Ir. Samsidar.

    The women's group Solidaritas Perempuan is also organizing relief for grassroots women. Funds can be wired to: Solidaritas Perempuan. Account Number: (USD) Perserikatan Solidaritas Perempuan. Swift Code: ABN -- AIDJA. Bank Name: ABN AMRO BANK N.V. Jakarta Main Branch Jl. Ir. H. Juanda, 23-24, Jakarta 10029 Indonesia, PO.BOX 2950. Tel. +62 21 2312777. Fax: +62 21 2313222.

    In Sri Lanka the Association of War Affected Women (email:; web: has an email bulletin on tsunami affected women and set up a fund. Name of Account: Fund for Tsunami Affected Women. Bank account No: 0004120-1. Bank: Bank of Ceylon, Pilimathalawa Branch. Swift code: BECY- LK- LX, 7010/587.

    The Nonviolent Peaceforce teams in Sri Lanka are monitoring and reporting on the delivery of relief aid in refugee camps. See

    War Resisters' International, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, Britain. Tel. +44 20 7278 4040. Fax +44 20 7278 0444. Email: Website:

    International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Women Peacemakers Program, Spoorstraat 38, 1815 BK, Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Tel. +31 72 512 3014. Fax +31 72 515 1102. Email: Website:

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