This month, PeaceWomen is pleased to feature a guest article from The Women's Regional Network (WRN) compiled by Chelsea Soderholm, Regional Coordinator of the WRN.
How do you take discussions about security, conflict, militarisation and governance outside elite security policy circles? How do you bring more women's voices into this discussion? How do we integrate their experiences and concerns into the security discourse? At the the Women's Regional Network (WRN), brainstorming around these questions generated the idea of Women's Regional Network “Community Conversations.”
Founded in 2011, WRN is a network of individual women civil society leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India working together to strengthen women's rights to ensure peace and security in the region. WRN is animated by a vision of women working collaboratively within and across borders, to listen to and learn from each other to construct a common agenda towards equitable and sustainable development with full participation of women in building a just peace.
The Women's Regional Network initiated the Community Conversations (CCs) process in 2011 as one of the first activities undertaken. The Network sought out women who live and work in remote and insecure areas to understand their experiences, fears and insecurities. The CCs acknowledge the contribution of women to justice, peace and social reintegration processes and document the creativity and agency women have shown in adapting their lives to conflict conditions.
This process has generated rich and detailed accounts from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India of the gendered social impact of politicised violence, militarisation and corruption in conflict-affected areas. Reports on Community Conversations highlight shared common issues such as the the pervasive impact of militarism and women's consistent creativity and enterprise, and provide recommendations for the international community, national governments, and civil society organizations to move forward. By identifying the common threads and themes, WRN is building cross-border strategies and seeking common solutions at this critical time for the region.