Women as peace makers at the grassroots


What you need to know:

  • When a society recognises and rightfully involves women in peace building and community organization, the traditional gender roles and stereotypes will be challenged. 

My mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her,” said Jodi Picoult, the American novelist and social activist. Gilda Radner, another writer, would add: “Motherhood is the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force. It’s huge and scary—it’s an act of infinite optimism.” Family is the grass root of society.

It is also a popular saying: “God cannot be present everywhere, so he created mothers.” Mothers and mature women in general can achieve amazing things, not just for their families or for their acquaintances, but their vision and thought goes beyond many barriers. Women can be great peace makers, starting from the grassroots.

A good mother is one who is in touch with reality, genuine in her approach, possessing veracity, and one who makes things happen despite numerous hurdles and dissuasions. Building peace is akin to motherhood, full of hurdles and discouragements. These two activities ought to begin from the grassroots. Women seem to be opting for it. Women can be great peace makers starting with motherhood.

Women are able to do them with ease because they are nurturers who value life and strive to preserve life at all costs. The basic duty of every woman is to build families which are the basic unit of any society and is necessary for building larger communities. 

Women do all this with their God-given gifts of empathy, understanding and compassion, gift of dialoguing, perseverance and temperance. These gifts are not always the outstanding gifts given to men.

Often due to male chauvinistic tendencies, people tend to undermine the leadership roles women play or could play in the society. Given to their feminine qualities such as tenderness, astuteness, affability and easy communicability, women can be better leaders in the society. This is particularly possible in the grassroot communities and among people from the lower sections of the society. 

This is because women are generally down-to-earth and constantly in touch with the reality.

The lessons on peace, tolerance and nonviolence are easily understood by women and through their personal life-examples, they can easily teach others on values close to feminine values. These values, when aligned with leadership values and skills, can easily inspire others and empower them to act upon. These values can also help in building bridges between groups and communities.

A committed and successful woman leader at the grassroots helps in achieving increased participation of other women in peace building efforts. They can accelerate and find quicker conflict resolution and proposal of newer and more workable peace building inventiveness. Above all, women are in a better position in knowing other specific needs and concerns of young people. In the fast changing world, women’s contribution to peace is indispensable, quicker and inclusive.

When a society recognises and rightfully involves women in peace building and community organisation, the traditional gender roles and stereotypes will be challenged. This can also bring about more sustainable peace and development in the community. A community that is determined to grow and transform, should make more and more effort to empower their women in leadership and governance structures and give them necessary time and means to grow.

Like peace building, motherhood and homemaking is a complex and multifaceted concept that includes various aspects such as unconditional love, nurturing, selflessness, empathy, safeguarding, unwavering commitment and being a role model. Let us empower women at grass root and employ them for implementing peace; harmony and peace will prevail at all levels.

Lazar Arasu SDB is a priest and school administrator. [email protected]