Kate Monkhouse shares an update on how Creators of Peace is accompanying women worldwide as the coronavirus pandemic take its social and economic toll on women’s wellbeing and peace-making.
One of things Creators of Peace women delight in most when we see one another face to face is warm greetings, joyful exchanges and respectful listening. We miss doing these things at a time when we are unable to travel to one another’s countries. So, during this time of restricted movement, we are profoundly grateful for technology that enables to re-connect online across many time-zones and cultures.
During Zoom calls so far, Creators of Peace women have shared their gladness at being able to see one another. Women from 19 countries across the globe have shared about what is happening around them, their anxieties or concerns, and their hope or faith. We have encouraged one another to remind ourselves of the qualities that we have in ourselves as peace creators that we can draw on during these difficult days.
They have signalled what they are doing to look after themselves and others at this time: staying connected, phoning friends who are on their own, sharing healthcare information, listening to people in vulnerable circumstances, praying together in a whatsapp group, continuing team meetings online, advocating for women’s wellbeing, sending uplifting messages, delivering food, designing fundraisers…
We have encouraged one another to prioritise self-care and personal wellbeing at a time when “women who do too much” are staying at home, caring for children, spouses and elderly parents, running their businesses and continuing community leadership roles. This is without easy freedom to meet other women, counteract human rights abuses or access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
In terms of the impact of the pandemic on local peacebuilding, we do not want to lose sight of efforts to raise women’s leadership roles. The consequences of the pandemic are tough on conflict survivors, refugees in camps, migrants out of work or separated from families, communities without ceasefires, in fragile economies… we still need to work for a positive peace for all, and that must include women.
We launched our new online training programme at the end of May. This will help our teams to build community, share knowledge and learn skills. We will focus on meeting community need and online facilitation techniques, as well as accompaniment and trauma resilience to begin with. We aim to use the next few months to strengthen friendship and enhance teamwork across the miles.
As Creators of Peace, we are concerned about the pressures on women at this time, especially in relation to domestic violence and food security. We are launching an invitation to donate to enable us to provide:
- mobile phone top-ups (airtime) to enable peace circle participants to stay connected with support
- mini-grants for women who are unable to access food for their families during this time
- a gift to a domestic violence charity for specialist assistance to women at risk or needing safe refuge
Some have said that the pandemic is the same storm, but we are all in different boats. And depending on what country, culture or context we are in, our adversity and opportunities are different. Being part of a worldwide network means we can accompany one another. In the medium-term, we hope to help repair social fabric that has been made fragile by tensions and support meaning making of difficult times.
As peace creators we can also see ourselves as advocates for a new story as we give leadership for peace in our communities. Each woman will have a different story to tell of how she has come through this challenge. We will listen to one another. We will do our best to listen to our communities to see what may be ours to contribute. And we will listen to the world, to try to find new ways to recover and reconcile.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to our hardship fund. Thank you…