South Asian activists part with message of peace


New Delhi: A two-day international conference on possibilities of peace-building and conflict-management in the South Asian region, christened ‘Beyond Our Differences’, culminated here Sunday.

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Organised by WSICOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace) and GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict), the two-day conference saw a number of eminent speakers and activists from various countries share their views on contemporary South Asian issues.

“The idea of the whole programme was to get people from different backgrounds and regions to discuss the issues that currently haunt the peace of South Asian region. It’s very important that these views get a platform to promote a better understanding of the issues,” said Manjri Sewak, consultant, conflict transformation, WISCOMP.

The two-day confluence saw visitors from Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and various other regions of South Asia attend the conference. Students, writers, journalists and activists also attended the event.

Some of the people present included Gazala Paul, founder of Samarth Trust, Kamla Bhasin, a feminist activist, Yashwant Deshmukh, founder-owner YRD media, Gurpreet Mahajan, professor at Centre for Political Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Meenakshi Gopinath, principal of Lady Shri Ram College, among others.

Issues like unrest in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, were discussed along with possible measures to solve them, and safeguard women and children, who usually prove to be the most affected in conflict situations.

Rita Manchanda, research director of South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), said: “To solve their own issues and to provide a different voice in the society, women have to take part in the electoral process with a greater interest.”

“The children suffer the most from post traumatic stress when they witness ghastly instances of violence first-hand. It is through a proper education and interaction between children, that we can dream of a secular and pluralist society of India,” Gazala Paul said.

WISCOMP is an organisation that facilitates gender-sensitive training and research in the areas of conflict transformation, security and peace in South Asia. It is a part of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of the Dalai Lama to foster a culture of coexistence and nonviolence.