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International Symposium “Peacebuilding and Women: From the field of Women’s Support”


(l. to r., Prof. Endo, Dr. Rajbhandari, Dr. Dini, Ms. Seya)

The international symposium “Peacebuilding and Women: From the field of Women’s Support” was held December 7, 2013. The event was sponsored by the Global Collaboration Center, with cooperation from the NGO Japan Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP) and support from the Film Method Council. The symposium focused on peacebuilding and women, and in particular on grassroots-level activities with a pre-event followed by lectures.

The pre-event was a showing of the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which presents women’s grassroots contributions to the peace process in Liberia led by peace activist Leymah Gbowee, followed by a message from Ms. Gbowee for the opening of the symposium.

The symposium then proceeded with presentations by three panelists based on their field work. First JCCP President Rumiko Seya explained post-conflict peacebuilding and the status of women’s support activities in Kenya and South Sudan. Next Dr. Shukria Dini, founder of the Somali Women’s Study Centre, spoke about her life growing up as a refugee, the involvement of women in peacebuilding in Somalia, and women’s support projects. Finally, Dr. Renu Rajbhandari, Chairperson of Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) Nepal, described how women are affected by conflict in Nepal and introduced peacebuilding and women’s support projects.

University of Tokyo Graduate School Professor Mitsugi Endo commented on the seven commitments of the action plan in the United Nations Report of the Secretary-General on Women’s Participation in Peacekeeping and on issues in liberal peacebuilding, and asked each panelist individual questions.

(Panel discussion)

In the panel discussion, Ms. Seya discussed the methods used in needs surveys, Dr. Rajbhandari spoke about women’s involvement with rebels and about women’s rights, while Dr. Dini addressed the new Somali government and expectations of support from Japan. The session concluded with questions from the audience.

Over 100 students and members of the general public attended the symposium. They provided such feedback as “It deepened my understanding of women and peacebuilding,” “I could feel the speakers’ strong hopes for peacebuilding,” and “Coming to know examples of women activists was meaningful.”

Through examples from Africa and Asia, this international symposium provided an opportunity for renewed understanding of how conflicts affect women and to learn about women’s support during the peacebuilding period and the roles that can be played by women. The organizers would like to express sincere gratitude and appreciation to the speakers and participants and to everyone who provided support.

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