Women Wage Peace at an event after the 2014 war on Gaza (GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
It’s not always that both these two days fall close together on the calendar, but this year they are just a few days apart. Here is an introduction to two very powerful organisations which many women are involved in: Women wage Peace and Parents Circle of the Israel and Palestinian bereaved families for Peace.
Women wage Peace is a grassroots movement with tens of thousands of members from the right, centre and left of the political spectrum in Israel – Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, united in the demand for a mutually binding non-violent agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, involving women in the process (in the spirit of UN Resolution 1325). The movement works throughout the country to raise awareness and engage the public in a discussion about the feasibility of a political resolution. It creates opportunities for dialogue with individuals and groups through formal and informal meetings within the community. The movement also organizes national events, such as demonstrations and protests, in order to pressure decision makers to work toward reaching a viable peace agreement.
The Parents Circle conducts dialogue meetings both in Palestine and in Israel – in schools, private homes, women’s centres in Palestine and many groups visiting from overseas. What we have gathered from these extraordinary meetings is that we as two nations do not know the “other”. The majority of 17-year-old students in Israeli schools has never met a Palestinian, and the Palestinians we meet have never met an Israeli who is not a settler or in
uniform. The experience of hearing a Palestinian and Israeli tell their stories is a unique experience for anyone taking part in a dialogue meeting. The organisation conducted more than 450 dialogue meetings, they reached approximately 10,000 Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals through Dialogue Meetings in Palestine and Israel. Also 90 Israeli high school teachers were trained to support approximately 2,250 high school students before and after the Dialogue Meetings that took place in their schools.
What great examples these are of women taking a lead in nurturing dialogue, understanding, peace-building and conflict resolution. What an example to remember as we observe International Women’s Day and we think of the role of mothers in our lives.