Women in Fiji to learn how to influence social change
Women in Fiji to learn how to influence social change beyond just the community level.
Women from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia's West Papua, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Kenya are in Suva to learn how to influence social change, and to take that influence beyond the community level.
The Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding is hosting the two week training course, which began on Monday, and is part of a programme from the Eastern Mennonite University.
The executive director for the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Koila Costello-Olsson, told Leilani Momoisea that there needs to be more key women in influential positions affecting how conflicts are being dealt with.
KOILA COSTELLO-OLSSON : We are wanting to groom leaders who are social change agents, there's a particular way of thinking and doing. The type of leadership we want to contribute to in terms of peacebuilding means knowing yourself, understanding your community, your sphere of influence. Also being intentional that the type of leadership and peace building you're contributing to is one which involves analysis, one which involves understanding the context, one which involves using non-violent means to bring about change, and working for peace and justice.
LEILANI MOMOISEA: So it's expected that these women will be going out into their own communities, getting involved in the community, servicing the community. Is there some examples of ways they are doing that, or previous students, how they've done that?
KC-O : They usually say 'this is the area we are working in'. This programme is saying we need to be extending our sphere of influence. So if you've only been working at community level, you've not been working towards national level, it's really encouraging you and giving you the skills to say I want to be influencing policy change, I want to be influencing the design of training that's going on. We've had women who have gone through the programme who have actually in the last year or so have stepped up and designed intervention processes, that have consulted with chiefs and with decision-makers on conflicts that have arisen in the community, and actually have gone in, and have been requested. Prior to that they weren't being requested to run any workshops. But not just running workshops, it's running workshops on actual issues that are coming to the forefront and are being able to design better processes to deal with it. We've also had some of them that are feeding into policy papers where they never used to before, but also being confident enough to say, 'this is what the people on the ground are saying, and this is how we want to re-frame it into the language of policy-makers so that what's being created is well informed and from the people.
LM : So beyond community level, it's influencing government, at that level as well.
KC-O : Absolutely, not just governments but if you are part of a particular institution, how you influence decision making processes to be better informed. We know when you're working on peacebuilding it's also addressing the root causes of issues, conflicts, getting people to go back and analyse it and say OK, change processes are occurring, can we better understand this, can we influence this in a better way, so that it benefits most of us, and not just one side of the community.
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