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28. Juni 2011

This is How Mothers MOVE Against Violent Extremism!

From June 6-8, thirteen inspirational women came together in Vienna to share their experiences as activists and mothers in countering violent extremism.

The Mothers MOVE conference gave participants the opportunity to hear from women from different cultural contexts, with the aim of learning from each other’s experiences, sharing best practices and comparing the similarities and differences of mothers’ role in the security arena between cultures. This is how these mothers MOVE against violent extremism:

“I want to give peace education to youth, young mothers or university students. They are the entry point, they will be the mothers, and they are the fruit of their family. I agree we need to teach about the peaceful interpretation of the Koran. What is peace, how is it created and how is it destroyed? Women are the first school of the family. If they are good, the children will be good. Then the country will be great” – Dewirini Anggraeni, Peace Activist, Indonesia.

“I lost my husband. I have no revenge for those who killed my husband. You can’t bring someone back to life through revenge. I engaged other families’ victims to go to therapy and look to the future. I invited them to join an organization called Husband and Wife Bali Bombing victims. It contains 22 families and 47 children. Those children who are affected by the Bali bombing might have revenge or anger in their hearts. Mothers can explain that revenge is no good. I have learnt not to hold a grudge against anyone, including the terrorists who killed my husband.” – Hayati Eka Laksmi, Widow of Bali bombing victim, Indonesia.

"I see the need to orientate and sensitize mothers to their impact on their families. Mothers are the entry point so we want to work with them to get access to the youth, in order to deradicalize youth. We engage mothers in livelihood work while living within their own communities so that they can be change makers within their communities and their families. When women start bringing something back home (food, money, clothes) even the most conservative of men is transformed. We try to educate women on the true transcription and interpretation of the Koran. We also teach them how to mediate and how to create a dialogue." – Mossarat Qadeem, Grassroots Activist, Pakistan

“I live in an interface community. Sporadic violence between my community and my neighbouring community in Northern Ireland exists. Because we are across a wall or across a field there is no trust and no respect, so we began a dialogue. We set up an interface forum. It took us 9 months to reach a place where we could begin to be honest. We began to build relationships. There were always rumors flying about, so we rang each other on mobiles if we thought there was a chance there would be a violent attack happening soon. We built up trust, I believe you and you believe me, and we warned each other about dangers.” – Catherine Cooke, Community Peace Activist, Northern Ireland

“Mothers must sit down with their children and encourage them to find a creative outlet for their energies, be it meeting with people from the other side, organising trips or gaining more education. It is time that women here gain an understanding of further afield, outside of Northern Ireland, outside of Europe. Groups are ready to gain an understanding of other traditions, to see that there are more women very different, very similar. They have a lot they can learn from other women so they can appreciate themselves.” – Maureen Fox, Community Peace Activist, Northern Ireland

“We noted that grassroots women from the Protestant community weren’t engaging as much. We devised a program targeting key hard-to-reach communities. We put out leaflets called Let’s Talk Politics. Paramilitary leaders in the area said that if any of the women went they would face consequences. The women met with a community gatekeeper and decided to start a women’s studies program. The title was changed but the content was the same. Rather than involving 15 women, we ended up holding a conference of 60 women from this area. The work that’s being done at the grassroots level – that’s where we believe the change will happen.” - May De Silva, Community leader, Northern Ireland

“I thought, “I am a housewife, I can’t do anything.” But then I realized it is not enough to tolerate what is happening, we must do something. The hardest thing I had to do was to go against my constituency, and reach out to the Muslim women to stop the killings. It was a big surprise to find that these women are just like us. For the first time I began to see similarities between us – we are human beings, we are mothers, we have pain and hurt. That helped me overcome the prejudice, the hate I felt over the killings. As a result, we are able to hold conferences together, take a stand together and say, “The killing has to stop.” In order to bridge the gap, we have reached out to not only Muslims and Christians, but every tribe of people. We want women to represent every tribe in the State.” – Esther Ibanga, Community and Christian Faith Leader, Nigeria

“The vision is to create an enabling environment where Muslims and Christians can co-exist peacefully. One way is to introduce a curriculum into schools to talk about tolerance, co-existence. There is a need for trauma healing and for the services of experts. We need to create a joint talk and use the media to redefine concepts. We have to talk about why a certain group of people would feel the need to kill, and why we must not use violence to show we are not happy with certain issues or certain systems. We need to use the media as a tool that will help us to coexist.” – Khadija Hawaja, Community and Muslim Faith Leader, Nigeria

“I thought I had to be ready, I didn’t know for what, but I had to be ready. I am so proud, not just to be with these amazing people, but also to learn to use the power and pain inside of us. We have to learn to use pain. I am a mother, and my own mother taught me how to be proud of myself. The jail didn’t kill my mother, the pain did. Dealing with this pain and anger, trusting myself, dealing with this sentence, “I have to be ready”, that is my challenge.” - Siham Ikhlayel, Peace Activist, Palestine

“Democracy is something new for us, and mothers have a central role in educating their children about how to operate in it. Mothers must be empowered not only to care for their children’s basic needs, but also to be able to contribute to the character-building of their children, including how to choose for themselves, how to be tolerant of others, and how to deal with the problems and opportunities we are facing. Mothers are able to guide their children in the new political reality. Mothers in Egypt now need training in political awareness. They must be empowered to teach their children about democracy.” – Shaimaa Abdel Fattah, Teacher, Egypt

“Having a network is an important thing. We can eliminate the potential for violence through mothers’ intuition. When there is a potential for violence, what can I do before it happens? A quick reaction. What are the resources that I have to stop the cycle? Networking with a number of people.” – Nadia Al-Sakkaf, Editor of the Yemen Times, Yemen

“We go to talk to students in Israel and Palestinian territories as a team, to share our personal stories. We talked to 17 year olds as they would attend the military service next year. It is much more powerful to go together, than each going separately to their own community’s school. Our vision is to create a framework to reconcile for peace, to share our narratives, to explore each other’s narratives. Sharing the real stories is way more effective than the academic blah blah.” – Robi Damelin, Peace Activist, Israel

"I ask mothers to have patience when dealing with teenagers attracted to violent extremism." - Farah, Teacher, Pakistan


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