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ACCORD participates in Vital Voices trans-regional exchange programme

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Pravina Makan-Lakha, General Manager: Operations at ACCORD, has been nominated to participate at the Vital Voices Trans Regional Exchange: Women Leaders building Peace and Prosperity meeting taking place in Northern Ireland.

 This meeting will take place from the 21-27 October 2007.

The meeting aims to explore ways of working across regions to develop strategies for community building and conflict resolution in the Middle East, Northern Ireland and South Africa. Given the multifaceted role women play in conflict situations, Vital Voices believes that it is critical that they are fully empowered to participate in decision-making processes at all levels and sectors of society. Recognizing the powerful and significant role that economic development can play in moving societies towards stability and progress, Vital Voices places particular emphasis on providing women with the tools to remove barriers to their full participation in post-conflict economic development. To that end, in 2005 Vital Voices launched an ongoing Initiative on Women Leaders Building Peace & Prosperity. The inaugural training session in 2005 convened women leaders from Northern Ireland and Israel to exchange ideas on capacity building for civil society engagement in peacemaking. This current program in October 2007 will build on prior accomplishments by convening a larger group of women from Northern Ireland, Israel and, this time, South Africa to develop strategies to address the role of women in peace negotiations, reconstruction and economic development, and community building across racial and religious barriers to combat structural inequalities and violence.

This program will highlight the impressive work that is already being done by women in peace building and economic development and will provide a unique opportunity to share that work across three different regions: Northern Ireland, the Middle East and South Africa. The potential impact of this ongoing program is very broad in scope. The women leaders will return to their communities with new skills, ideas, and a renewed commitment to work towards peace and economic development in their societies. This type of investment in women’s leadership will spur the growth and development of civil society on these issues and will encourage cross-regional network building. In addition these women will be able to share what they have learned with other women in their own networks and amplify the work of Vital Voices in Northern Ireland, Israel and South Africa. Integrated into the week of training will also be hands-on site visits and one-on-one mentoring between women working on similar issues. These sessions will allow women from South Africa and Israel to benefit from the experiences of the women in Northern Ireland and promote shared learning experiences between all participants.