’A non-diplomatic outlook published in the spokesman Wednesday, 10 July 2013 00:00

Dr.Rakhshinda Perveen-’A non-diplomatic outlook

published in the spokesman Wednesday, 10 July 2013 00:00

Dr.Rakhshinda Perveen-’A non-diplomatic outlook

Published in Columnists

Women: the name is ‘peace-building’

The role of women in peace building, as a subject matter is quite in vogue these days, especially among the political and civil society. However, it has yet to be settled that whose cup of tea is it and whose constituency is it? Conventionally, the focus and connected multidimensional themes of it remains confined to the certain academic institutions and are also made visibly invisible by the iron curtains of security related military and semi civilian institutes.
What is peace? What is peace building? What are and should be the acceptable and ethical rules of engagement? Who are or should be the stakeholders? Should this be donor driven and or donor dependent or should it arise from grass roots with an innate sense of ownership while partnering with international community of experts and technical and aid organizations? Whether or not these larger than life queries are fully and satisfactorily answered it remains a fact that a substantial number of players in political, International donors, UN and Non profits systems are currently functional and operational in Pakistan on the very issue of peace building.
Barring few exceptions of genuinely interested and specialist ones a particular breed of ‘connoisseur’, have surfaced as self styled custodians of the complex spectrum of peace building within the country as well as in specific connection with India and Afghanistan. Alongside it appears that a concealed lash subsists between the merely passion driven ones and perpetually power hungry groups (I have simply classified the broader categories of players).
Notwithstanding the loopholes, biases and oversights the positive aspect of this entire state of affairs is that a number of socially conscious and amply qualified women and feminist men with specialization in various branches of learning of media, research, disasters and development are taking the lead.
A very effective instrument that is being used by a credible international organization, Search for Common Ground’s Pakistan office is working on the issues of peace building through youth and media. Amongst notable local organizations the Peace, Education and Development (PEAD) foundation is employing a series of policy dialogues with different layers and levels of stakeholders. Engaging the parliamentarians has also been observed in various initiatives. It is wished that 100 new faces in the current assembly and re- elected old ones would not focus on excursions in foreign tours but would really concentrate on their capacity building in connection with such initiatives where a considerable amount of resources is allocated to exposure visits of parliamentarians (high profile aka well connected and agenda setting TV anchors are also included in the list).
While these and other related efforts are result oriented but just as it took women rights movement to reap some of the fruits of their struggle in the form of seven pro women laws only in the last seven to eight years it would take at least sometime for establishing the connection of women in Pakistan with peace building.
Striving for intra or inter regional peace can never be successful, if it is viewed from a military lens only and efficacy of people to people prism is not apprehended. People to People contacts clasps small and medium sized traders especially women entrepreneurs (there are eight registered women’s chambers in Pakistan with an approximate membership of over 2,000 women entrepreneurs and business owners). One does not need to be an expert to forecast where the future of foreign policy lies or what is the magical glue that binds people and ultimately the states? Yes it was, it is and it would remain the economical ties.
And let me further unpack ‘People to People’, it includes poorest of the poor, slum dwellers, women farmers and laborers, youth from rural areas and urban middle classes.
This qualification should not be equated as exclusion of the technocrats and elites of different leagues.
The inclusion of non-elites and lesser children of God would facilitate transfer of empathy and put real issues like poverty, lack of health, education, livelihood opportunities and basic minimum needs at the centre of the stage. Hopefully, it would compel the earthly authors of our destinies to admit that peace is the only inevitable condition that needs to be fulfilled before channeling development funds and erecting development programs and projects in public, private and voluntary sectors.
It may initiate the deconstruction of victimhood and inherent folly of the patriarchal mindsets and structures of power to deny the inclusion of women in healing war torn societies and the outcome hopefully would see women as effective negotiators and decision makers too.

The writer is a freelancer

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