Indonesian women are still struggling to have their voices heard as part of mediation efforts in trouble spots and conflict resolution efforts in post-conflict areas across the archipelagic nation.
According to Electronita Duan (known as Eton), last year's winner of the N-Peace Award in Indonesia, women have much to offer the peacebuilding process.
“Even today, local and national governments have difficulty saying ‘Come sisters, let us build the peace side-by-side',” she said in the new N-Peace documentary of her story, which can be viewed here.
“They are still lacking in involving women. This is despite the fact that women suffered greatly during the conflict. And it was women who overcame the economic difficulties following the conflict.”
Facilitated by Search for Common Ground, Eton has been spreading her stories of peacebuilding efforts from her home in the Moluku islands to hundreds of mature-aged women throughout Indonesia at five Asia Muslim Action Network's (AMAN) Women's Schools for Peace.
The first visit was held in Bogor on International Women's Day on March 8, while the others followed in Cakung and Pondok Bambu in Jakarta, along with Pamona and Malei Lage in Poso, Central Sulewesi.
Eton was recognized with the 2011 N-Peace award for driving reconciliation efforts between Christian and Muslim communities in north Halmahera – the largest of the Moluku islands – after the 1999 conflicts.
Eton speaking to women in Bagor on March 8th.
There she established community organizations and empowerment projects, focused mainly in the areas of re-generating education and economic opportunities.
Through this, Eton showed that women could play a crucial role in helping to overcome the negative consequences of communal conflict, and build a lasting peace among former adversaries.
AMAN country director Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah said Eton was a strong role model in encouraging all people to pursue peace through creative means.
“The impression among the mothers is lasting. I met some of them after the visit … and they said that they would like to follow the path of Ibu (Mrs) Ethon – not to necessarily win an award, but to expand their initiatives to reach more women, men and children,” said Rubiyanti. “When women … are showed evidence of success from other women, they start to seriously think about how to build further success in other places.”
The school visits coincide with the start of the new search to recognize another Indonesian woman for peacebuilding efforts at the grass-roots level.
Applications for the 2012 round of nominations in the N-Peace Awards close on May 12, 2012.
The awards, facilitated by UNDP in partnership with Search for Common Ground, the Institute for Inclusive Security, and supported by AusAID, recognize: role models for peace; emerging peace champions; and men who advocate equality.
Eton said the continuation of the N-Peace Award would help further support women to come forward as agents for peace.
“The N-Peace Award is to reward women for their role as peacebuilders, so that they can be given some recognition and appreciation,” she said.
“It also encourages other women to be involved in the peace process. The involvement of women in the peace process and reconciliation efforts in conflict situations shows that they are also valuable as human beings.”