Lahore: A two day sensitization workshop regarding interfaith harmony, women’s role in peace building, peaceful coexistence and social cohesion was organized by PAIMAN Alumni Trust, at PAIMAN House for Women leaders of religious political parties’, women leaders from other faiths and female social activists. Prior to this workshop 1,000 Madrassa students and 130 non-Muslim community members have already been sensitized on Interfaith Harmony, tolerance and Peace building in six districts of Pakistan.
The project primarily aims to build the capacity of women of faith based political parties and social activists in conflict transformation, interfaith dialogue and address the issue of violent extremism in society.
During the workshop the participants were sensitized on kinds and causes of violent extremism and its impact on women in Pakistan. The participants were also given an opportunity to learn how different religions perceive the concept of peace and coexistence. The human element was the prime focus of the workshop, to show how masses (especially women) irrespective of their faith suffer when extremist ideologies are given more importance.
As a group the participants also worked with each other to develop models of peace building which would be acceptable for people of all religions. Through identity substitution the women were made to realize the strengths and fears that majorities and minorities of a country feel in situations of unrest. This helped them to see the human faces of the perceived dehumanized out groups.
The initiative has been taken to help in building bridges among female politico-religious leaders, Madrassa teachers, non Muslim activists and other civil society actors concerning the role of women in engaging their respective communities in developing understanding around the issue of women initiating and strengthening interfaith harmony and social cohesion.
The most important component of the workshop was to highlight the role of women in peace building processes. The women were given a chance to explore the best practices of peace building, women peace practitioners have initiated in different parts of the world and eventually design a workable action plan for peace. Furthermore the participants were encouraged to create an environment of peace and interfaith harmony within their areas.
During the final leg of the training the women learnt about networking and linkage development which would in future facilitate them in their work regarding peaceful coexistence in their respective areas. An action plan was developed for future action to strengthen and proceed with the work of peacebuilding and developing social cohesion.