Summary of roundtable discussions
Millennium Forum, Derry
29th March 2012
Introduction of overall project
The Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA) and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland are partners in a Peace 3 project that aims to capture the experiences of women living through conflict and through the subsequent period of conflict resolution and peace building.
The aim is to learn from the experiences of women who have lived through these processes and to try to identify ways of making a positive impact. Over the next two years this project will bring women together on a cross community and a cross border basis and they will have an opportunity to exchange learning with women from other conflict areas through the Foundations for Peace Network.
Key issues will be highlighted in different workshops which will take place throughout Northern Ireland and in border county areas. These are: • Violence, safety and security
• Decision making and representation
• Women’s rights are human rights – women and social justice • Women and the legacies of the past
• Women and institutional change
The first theme addressed in the project was ‘Women: Violence, Safety and Security’. Workshops were held in Derry, Dundalk and Newry, and a final cross-border workshop will take place on 21st June 2012. At this event – ‘Women, Violence and Security: A Shared Learning Workshop’ – ten participants from each of the 3 previous workshops will convene to pull together the various strands of the discussions, develop recommendations, and decide how best we can influence policy.
The final part of the project is aimed at placing on an international stage all that has been learned through the discussions between women from different communities and regions. The project will have two important outcomes: • The learning gathered will be used for the design of policy recommendations that will be disseminated through the production of a Policy Report on Gender and Peacebuilding which will be primarily focused on influencing institutional change in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland • A Tool Kit on Women and Peacebuilding: Developing Practical Approaches will be produced. This will be circulated internationally with the intention of influencing governments and agencies responsible for providing grants and assistance to war-torn societies.
Over 50 women from across the Derry City area were invited to attend a workshop to discuss and provide their personal perspectives on issues around violence, community safety and feelings of security.
The morning began with Cathy Nelis, Vice-Chair of the local District Policing Partnership Board, providing a contextual presentation to the audience. This presentation is attached as a separate document.
Facilitated discussions took place around five tables with a scribe recording the issues that were raised. Participants were asked to focus their discussions around the following 4 key questions:
• What makes you feel unsafe / threatened in your community?
• Do you feel more or less safe since the peace process started?
• What needs to change in your community in order for you to feel safer?
• What role do / can women play?
At the end of each table discussion the women were asked to prioritise the issues raised in response to the four questions. The priorities were noted on a flipchart which was then put up on the wall for all the groups to see. At this point all of the women had a chance to read the issues raised at other tables. A short plenary discussion ensued Below is a synopsis of the issues raised in response to the first question:
What makes you feel unsafe / threatened in your community?
It was clear that responses to this question differed depending on certain factors such as age and...