Rewriting the roles of women
DISMANTLING TRADITIONS THAT ENABLE GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Von Denise Rafaeli Cadorniga
Women are key players in the progress and success of peacebuilding — even though they might not see it in themselves at first.
In Lanao del Norte in the Mindanao region of the Philippines we work alongside women to address safety concerns and co-create peace in their local villages. Many of these women are former members of an armed group and are still trying to figure out their place in the community now that the peace process is underway. On top of this, the pandemic has made life more difficult for women who are experiencing increased violence and threats.
In response, NP started a new women-led peacebuilding initiative. The first step of this initiative was to provide trainings to women in the community. Trainings covered topics such as women’s rights, the importance of women in peacebuilding, and peace advocacy. Women in the group expressed that prior to these trainings by NP, they were completely unaware of women’s rights.
"In the face of abuse, I did not know how and where to get support before these trainings with NP,” shared Fatima.* “Through the training, I learned that I can uphold our rights as women, and that we can seek and receive the help and support we need."
The trainings also explored the dynamics of child abuse. The women discussed norms in their community, such as child marriage, that are used as a way to help a child escape poverty, but all too often lead to abuse. In another session, they observed their own parenting practices, and identified ways they could be calmer and gentler with their children. They noticed their children responded more positively when they engaged them more peacefully. The next step of this project was for the women to explore what they wanted to do with the new skills and understandings they gained in the trainings.
First, they wanted to share what they learned with their community. “Our group tends to think not only for our own family unit, but also for the whole community,” reflected Tala.* “And, we value relaying what we’ve learned with other people who are willing to listen, because we have seen first-hand how these trainings have impacted our lives in a positive way.” With the whole community participating, change is magnified. Next, the training participants decided they wanted to tackle the issue of food insecurity. Breaking another norm in the community, that of women being confined to the home, they started a livelihood farm.
Being the peacebuilders they are, the women know that when there is food on the table, when there is proper livelihood for everyone, and when there is a sense of unity and caring for the community, peace is more present. The training participants now recognize the broader purpose of the role they play in their community.
"The role of women in society is not confined to what tradition dictates,” Nisa* reflected. “Through the trainings with NP, I realized that we are able to take on more roles as women."
Thanks to your support, women and youth have access to programs that help them dismantle cultural norms that enable violence. Thanks to you, women are able to build peace in their communities.
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These women received trainings of the WOMEN-STRIVE Project funded by the Government of Australia in partnership with NP. Women-STRIVE or Supporting the Transformation and Institutionalization of Local Initiatives on Violent Extremism is being implemented in Lanao Del Norte and Basilan to contribute in preventing and countering violent extremism through women empowerment in local peacebuilding, community-based conflict transformation and peace advocacy.