Women's International Grassroots Peace Congress PDF Print E-mail

2009 Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congress

WHO IS IPI (INTERNATIONAL PEACE INITIATIVES)?

International Peace Initiatives (IPI: www.ipeacei.org) is a U.S. and Kenya based organization that partners with a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to finding, supporting, promoting, and funding innovative and effective initiatives that mitigate the effects of poverty, disease, oppression and violence.

IPI provides Amani Homes for the care and education of orphans and vulnerable children, supports grassroots capacity building, provides participatory community based action research, and networks ‘best practice’ information on HIV/AIDS management, peacebuilding, and rural economic programs. IPI also provides trainings in peace education, peacebuilding, nonviolence, and conflict resolution.

IPI works with grassroots communities because we understand, like many in development work now do, that bringing the “bottom up” by helping create sustainable lives, creates healthy communities, and nations that have the opportunity to thrive. IPI’s work uplifts the spirits and the living standards of African communities. IPI tools are education, enterprise and empowerment.


WHAT IS THE WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL GRASSROOTS PEACE CONGRESS? International Peace Initiatives (IPI: www.ipeacei.org) hosted the 2nd Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congress at the Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) in Meru, Kenya from August 20th – 23rd, 2009.

The Congress is a diverse international forum promoting women’s grassroots initiatives for sustainable development and cultures of peace. The Women’s Congress is IPI’s offering to support and comply with the UN Decade of a Culture of Peace

This is an event for providing trainings and creating connections that strengthen and empower the community toward sustainability. We create support networks for the work of grassroots women’s groups by forging links with local community based organizations, international NGO's, religious and educational organizations, African governments and the rest of the world.


THE PREMISE:

The collective instinct in women for the protection of life is a powerful force for good in the world.  Women can yearn for peace with a depth and commitment that enables them to work consistently, even in the face of continuing violent conflict, and work together, across political lines. When this collective instinct is honored and strengthened, it equips women to work more effectively for peacebuilding across our world.

IPI brings women from the grassroots together because they are often the most vulnerable to armed conflict, poverty and disease.  They are also often experts in community organizing on behalf of conflict resolution, health, education, and sustainability.  Our Congress is convened to empower and fortify, through trainings and alliance opportunities, the grassroots women of the world, particularly in Africa.


THE INVITATION:

International Peace Initiatives (IPI: www.ipeacei.org) hosted the 2nd Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congress at Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) in Meru, Kenya from August 20th – 23rd, 2009.

The Women's International Grassroots Peace Congress invited rural community women to share with the world their contribution to the UN Decade of a Culture of Peace. The Congress also cordially invited all international women and men who are stakeholders in peace, economic sustainability, and health to participate with us.


THE 2005 WOMEN’S INTERNATIOAL GRASSROOTS PEACE CONGRESS:
In 2005, IPI convened a gathering of women from around the world to hear the voices of and learn from rural women severely challenged by HIV/AIDS, poverty, and violence in their lives in Africa. Hon. Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter, was our keynote speaker. We hosted women from 14 African nations including Southern Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and also women from other parts of the world including Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan and USA. We had over 230 international women and had three transformative days of sharing information, ideas and practices, which changed our lives.  IPI has stayed connected with Congress participants and many new and significant community, and national, initiatives were launched and sustained as a result of the Congress experience in grassroots women’s lives.

THE THEME:

The theme of the 2009 Congress was: “Women, Peace and Community: Weaving partnerships that promote grassroots initiatives for sustainable development and cultures of peace.” This was a multi-cultural, international forum aimed at crafting new and informed strategies for thought and action.

THE GOAL:

The goal of the Congress was to create a space for education, networking, and promoting alliances that support and serve women working on grassroots peace, health and development initiatives. The Congress provided a regional and international outreach to dialogue about shared problems and to generate solutions. We endeavor to showcase best grassroots practices and share solutions to the many development challenges international women face today. This forum extended these connections through an African Grassroots Women’s Alliance.

SPECIAL FOCUS AREAS:

A special focus of this gathering was to celebrate the gains women have made in choosing to speak for themselves and to work toward prosperity (overcoming poverty), health (living with HIV/AIDS positively), and peace (working for their human rights by ending violence in their lives, their children’s lives and in their communities).

The Congress also emphasized the impact of women’s grassroots peace initiatives in community re-construction after prolonged conflict. We are committed to demonstrate that the intersection between populations and violence produces different experiences for women than for men. Disease and poverty impact women’s lives in unique ways too. Recognition of the different experience for women, resulting from the impact of these issues, is critical for designing and safeguarding women’s, and children’s, human rights.  This protection will only come about through the creation of cultures of peace; providing security, livelihood potentials, and ensuring the sustainability of the planet and its peoples.

Special focus was also on the plight of the almost 20 million children orphaned by AIDS in Africa.  

THE WORKSHOPS AND TRAININGS:

The 2009 Women's International Grassroots Peace Congress was a grassroots training Congress in which participants presented a series of workshops focused on community organizing, economic self empowerment, and health and life skills and services. The training workshops illustrated successful strategies and best practices related to community organizing in these areas.

Trainings included: economic self-empowerment and micro finance, U.N. resolutions regarding women, individual and group access to education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, life and entrepreneurial skills, environmentally sustainable farming practices, community solutions for orphans, and more.

Presentations were in form of stories, panels, circle discussions, workshops and trainings that explore the Congress themes. Presentations provided cultural, local and international insights and 'best practices,' and possible new practices, to address these serious development challenges.


THE FORUM:

This Congress was a forum for grassroots women to learn, share experiences, foster partnerships and alliances, and develop strategies for dealing with common challenges. The Congress aims to identify challenges, highlight successful strategies and best practices, share strengths and achievements of grassroots women, and to give voice to women’s grassroots peace and development initiatives in Africa and around the world.  This gathering was committed to bring these grassroots voices to the world’s attention as the women speak for themselves on issues critical to the survival of our global environment and humanity as a whole.

THE FUTURE:

The Congress initiated real-world progress toward accomplishing the UN's Nonviolence Decade goals of attaining a Culture of Peace by our focus on: eradicating violence and extreme poverty, promoting democracy, human rights, women’s rights, gender equity and equality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for sustainable development and peace.

IPI will continue to network and support the individuals, alliances and plans made at the conference.  We will continue to host, with partners, future Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congresses.

IPI committed to forming an African Grassroots Women’s Alliance out of the 2009 Congress.