WOMEN leaders all the way from Luzon, Visayas and different areas in Mindanao gathered on Thursday, November 23, to launch the National Women's Peace Table.
Participants from Northern Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, specifically from Samar and Leyte, and from Mindanao started the one-and-a-half day event on Thursday which aims to strengthen involvement of women for peace making.
"We are convening national women's peace table today and tomorrow in order to plan for building a national peace movement initiated by women so that women's voices are heard collectively in decisions about peace and security," lead convenor of the National Women's Peace Table Irene Santiago said on Thursday, November 23.
Santiago added that women as mothers, professionals, have rich experiences on how to form relationships that lead to peaceful activities.
"I think this has been the missing element - the work that we have been doing for peace, that women, and men and children are not made to participate in achieving peace," she said.
She added that women will build on the process which the women have started doing peace in their communities and their families, but now making sure it is done in the nationwide basis.
Grace Rebollos from Peace Advocates Zamboanga, one of the participants of the event, said that they intend to keep talking to open venues for conversation.
"We are looking at places at where the peace table in this case now with women are making the lead become the platform of this discussion," she said.
She added that the establishing of peace tables can help prevent the resurgence of violent extremism among the youth.
"You talk about Marawi, you talk about Zamboanga, and I am from there. This is now the flavor of the month," she said.
She added that it is women, being mothers have the influence to turn all this around.
"We are saying that the women from whom this young people came, must assert some form of influence. But as they have been in a sense taken. We would like to think that the doors are not closed. We would like to think that we continue to build generations of mothers who build a culture of peace, that is not a culture of despair because there are historical hurts that need to be addressed, but we need to take perspective," Rebollos said.
She added that they may not arrive at a quick fix but they are hopeful.
"We may not be able to reach a quick fix, it could be generational; we might not be able to see the full effects of just and lasting peace in our lifetime, but at least the effort of the process, the sailing by itself, the peace we long for, it is not just the goal but it is being able to put in place a way of looking at life the way of doing things a way of looking at each other to determine, something we would like to bring in as an approach for violent extremism," she said.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also supported this initiative of establishing peace tables and graced the event.
In her speech she said that despite the fact that the quest for long and lasting peace entails a long and ardous journey, they continuously push for peace since it is the only way to secure the future of our children
"We should not stop kahit nakikita natin na imposible siya, hopeless siya and it is not going anywhere, we should not stop. Perhaps this is a sentiment shared by women here in Mindanao more than anywhere else in the country. But I am certain with your presence here today we can encourage greater awareness and better participation among more women all over the country in matters of peace and security," Duterte-Carpio said in her speech.
The event on Thursday was organized by the Democratic Leadership and Active Civil Society Empowerment in the Bangsamoro, a project fully funded by the European Union, and implemented by the consortium of Konrad-Adenaeur-Stiftung Philippines and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on November 24, 2017.
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