From April 9 to 11, a group of 15 activists from conflict regions all over the world gathered in The Hague for a training on successfully facilitating workshops with diverse stakeholders.
Thirteen women and two men from Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Israel, North East India and South Sudan attended the training, which took as a starting point that security can only be improved if all relevant actors are involved.
Women need to be heard at levels where decisions are being taken that directly affect their lives. Cordaid wants to increase the influence of women on peace and security issues in their community, to ensure that policies reflect the needs and concerns of those most affected. The training of women activists to mobilize and facilitate multi stakeholder groups is part of our strategy help women make themselves heard.
The workshop was based on a number of guiding principles: getting the ‘whole system in the room’ which means inviting people who have a stake in the agenda but who do not usually meet; putting the focal issue in a global perspective, helping each person to see a bigger picture than the one they would usually consider; searching for common ground and desirable futures; and the use of self-managed small groups, where people educate each other and make choices together, working from their own experience.
Apart from the actual training, the participants greatly valued the opportunity to share experiences. Many of them came to the meeting thinking their situation was not comparable to any other, but were surprised to recognize many similarities. “It is just like Afghanistan!” the Afghan participant exclaimed after hearing stories from Guatemala on the presence of police and armed gangs in the villages there. Not only was there comfort in recognition, but also inspiration through exchanges on experiences and strategies on what worked well and what not in a given context.
At the end of the three days, the participants went home inspired and full of plans to apply their new skills in their own situations and prepare planning meetings with relevant actors, from police, to government officials, civil society groups and community leaders. They will stay in touch with each other by forming a reference group on the progress made in the various countries. Cordaid’s Women’s Leadership Program will assist in this.