September 21 to 24, Coady Institute in partnership with Nobel Women’s Initiative and women leaders from around the globe, hosted a community leadership e-conference titled, Local Women’s Voices for Peace. Acknowledging the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), and beginning on the International Day of Peace, the conference aimed to elevate the voices of local women everywhere who are actively involved in peace and security work in their communities and organizations.

Over four days and 23 sessions, hundreds of attendees heard from women in East, West, Central, and Southern Africa; Australia and Asia-Pacific; East, South, and Southeast Asia; Middle East and Northern Africa; Latin America and Caribbean; and North America. Sessions were offered in several languages including English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

A screenshot of Dina Hussein speaking during a Zoom conference session
A screenshot of Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi during a Zoom conference session
A screenshot of Lorelei Williams during a Zoom conference session

“Wow! I learned so much from the speakers – their experiences, what they are doing, and their insights on numerous issues and challenges,” Dr. Robin Neustaeter says.

Robin is Program Teaching Staff at Coady Institute, Assistant Professor at St. Francis Xavier University, and one of the organizers for the conference.

“Around the world, women are using their skills and knowledge to address the issues and challenges in their communities,” she adds.

“For many women, this is work that ‘just needs to be done’. Period.”

In “The Role of Education in Supporting WPS”, Dina Hussein of Egypt discussed the importance of education for women and girls in the area of counter-terrorism.

Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi described the successes and challenges of implementing “peace clubs” in Nigeria during “Strengthening Local Structures and Practices” – recalling a story of a young girl who was able to begin attending school full-time due to the support of the peace club community.

During “From Where We Stand – Indigenous Women’s Voices and Perspectives”, Lorelei Williams of Skatin Nations/Sts’Ailes, Vancouver, Canada shared a personal account of her experience with violence against Indigenous women and girls, the personal impacts of residential schools, and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada.

“In listening to women, I realized that the ‘why’ is similar across the globe – patriarchy,” Robin explains. “Women want peace, social and gender justice, and well-being for their families, communities and societies, and themselves.”

Coady Institute continues to recognize and work to advance women’s peace and security at all levels through dialogue, advocacy, action, and learning.

Conference organizers have opened a call for contributions for personal, analytical, and creative expressions of women’s community peace and security work, with the goal of providing resources and inspiration for peace activists, community leaders, educators and researchers.

Robin has coauthored a chapter in the new Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education titled, “Peace-Building And Conflict Resolution Education” – the first of its kind in the history of the publication. She will also facilitate Coady’s online Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding for Community Development certificate in 2021.

“We often see the world in black and white. Violence or peace. Peace or conflict. This binary limits our potential, opportunities, and resources for building peace,” Robin explains.

“Community development work involves working with different people with different beliefs, attitudes, and ideas to achieve a goal – often the same goal,” Robin says.

“Taking time to intentionally think about our beliefs and behaviours in responses to conflict is an opportunity create a pause in which to think, ask, feel, see, and listen to build knowledge and practice.”

Want to learn more? Apply for one of Coady’s online certificates in areas such as Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding for Community Development, Citizen-Led Accountability: Strategies and Tools, Climate Change Basics for Community Resilience, and Introduction to Social Enterprise.

St. Francis Xavier University Adult Education is offering a Master of Adult Education (M.Ad.Ed.) in Women’s Leadership and Community Development online program beginning in 2021. Being a Coady graduate is an asset for this program.