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Women are most often reduced to the role of victims in conflicts and wars. As well as the significant suffering they face during conflicts and wars, being specifically targeted because of their gender thus experiencing rape as a weapon of war in addition to displacement harassment and economic hardship, women are also agents in conflict resolution, peace-making and peacebuilding. Despite being denied access to formal decision making structures as a result of patriarchal governance structures, women participate in many different ways in peacebuilding. Their peacebuilding roles begin at home and within the community level because of the patriarchal norms and rules that constrain their actions. However, women also act outside the home as activists, representatives of groups or organizers of rallies and workshops.

In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council passed a Resolution on Women, Peace and Security, known as UNSCR 1325. This is the first formal and legal document from the Security Council that requires parties to a conflict and the international community to respect women's rights and to support their participation at all stages in peace negotiations, conflict prevention and post-conflict dialogues. In keeping in mind that one of the principles of feminist development communications is that women are producers of knowledge, the workshop aimed to strengthen women's communication skills and raise their awareness of the UNSCR 1325 as a tool for advocacy.

It was this appreciation by Isis of the foregoing that propelled the organization to venture into the theme of women and peacebuilding.

"Crafting Messages for Women and Peacebuilding” was a five-day workshop based on the basic principle of feminist development communications that women are the source and producers of their own knowledge. It was held on 24-29 May 2010 in La Anclar, Bonificio Street Davao City. Following a one-year action research that surfaced the strength, resilience and challenges of women grassroots community leaders in selected barangays of Pikit, North Cotabato, the second Isis International Activist School workshop was designed to explore the transformative potential of communication tools - theatre, radio and visual arts - for the women to enhance their knowledge on how to effectively communicate their experiences in armed conflict situations on the one hand and their crucial role in peacebuilding on the other hand.

The five-day workshop resulted in the participants ability to discuss through short theatre pieces their strengths and aspirations as women leaders in various spaces of their lives; through radio, the support they need and draw from in their everyday life; and through poster making the importance of participation, protection and upholding of women's rights as basic ingredients to peacebuilding

On 29 May 2010, a multi-stakeholders dialogue billed as Development Communications for Holistic and Sustainable Peace, was held in Davao City. The dialogue aimed to provide an opportunity for the women to share the messages and the narratives they created as part of the “Crafting Messages for Women and Peacebuilding” workshop. The narratives demonstrated that values of participation, equality and democracy are sustained in various ways within and outside the home, thus becoming an important tool for peacebuilding. The event also served as the culmination of the two-year two-country project, Cultural Politics of Conflict, Peace and the UNSCR 1325, implemented BALAY Rehabilitation Center and the Atma Jaya University Indonesia that focused on strengthening women's role in peacebuilding.

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Isis International
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