On May 24, 15 women from Pakistan, Yemen, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Israel, Bosnia, Indonesia, India, and Somalia came together to start a week of intensive workshops to launch SAVE’s first global campaign: Mothers for Change! which seeks to empower and enable women to fight violent extremism on the front lines—in their homes and communities, where people may be hijacked by radical ideologies. In this training camp, the participating women—SAVE leaders and future facilitators—have already had the chance to learn about and model a variety of strategies for forming mothers groups in their home countries and to start dialogue processes to initiate understanding and conflict resolution.
The workshops are taking place in Carinthia, Austria, where the participants have the chance to create a shared group identity and develop a coordinated plan for the implementation of Mothers for Change! Despite the range of educational and professional backgrounds and the variety of ethnic and religious affiliations represented within the group, the determination of these women to transform their societies has brought them together in a common purpose.
The SAVE workshops offers a platform to women activists around the world to share and learn from each other. Representatives from Women Into Politics, an NGO in Northern Ireland, are leading the workshops to share the community-based strategies that they have developed to help bring together Catholic and Protestant groups in their country. Activists from Yemen and Pakistan have found commonalities in the challenges they face in societies with restricted women’s rights and low literacy rates, and they have been able to learn from each other and exchange ideas for the future. Other activists from Bosnia, Somalia, and Palestine are able to discuss crucial implementation strategies with their peers, such as reaching out to target groups, defining a clear mission, and moving from vision to reality.
These workshops also allow women the ability to offer fellowship and support across boundaries through both shared grief and hope. The participants are taking part in Storytelling workshops, which are process-oriented dialogue sessions for conflict resolution and reconciliation. The SAVE Sisters are being trained to be Storytelling facilitators, and they are learning how they can foster constructive dialogue in their countries and to reach out to vulnerable female populations through community education. In these ways, concerns about social, economic, and political stability are being paired with issues in the security realm in order to re-envision lasting solutions to global security problems. These new voices are critical to the development of alternative security solutions—to moving from ideological discourse on a theoretical level to tangible policy solutions that create change at the community level, utilizing female “Know How” and women’s central role in the family and civil society.