Engaged Leadership: Skills and Perspectives – A Workshop

30th October – 3rd November 2014, New Delhi

WISCOMP and FAEA collaborated to bring together students from diverse backgrounds and regions over five days for a workshop on “Engaged Leadership: Skills and Perspectives”. A large majority of the 42 participants who attended this workshop were recipients of FAEA scholarship and came from families with limited economic means; many were the first, in their families, to earn formal degrees and travel outside their communities. About half of the participants came from Srinagar and the other half were from other parts of the country.

The workshop program focused on ways to cultivate positivity, present oneself in public, think critically, and develop one’s full potential. Professional Leadership-Self-Presentation and Interpersonal Skills, Exploring Shared Spaces, Thinking beyond Borders, Non-violent Communication, Conflict and Media and Entrepreneurial Skills, formed the themes of the various sessions of the workshop. In the light of the flash floods that struck Srinagar few weeks before the workshop the program was redesigned to include sessions on leadership in times of crisis. To motivate the youth to take action a session titled Involving Youth in Post-Disaster Reconstruction in Conflict Contexts was added.

In the feedback that was collected by WISCOMP and FAEA at the end of the workshop many of the participants shared that they had been positively impacted by the skills they learnt at the workshop as well as the interaction they had with peers from different parts of the country. The Kashmiri students were specially appreciative of the empathy expressed during the workshop by fellow participants.

The Role of Media in Conflict and Peace: Exploring Alternatives

28th –30th DECEMBER 2014, New Delhi

The WISCOMP workshop titled The Role of Media in Conflict and Peace: Exploring Alternatives aimed to offer an alternative perspective to journalistic practice with a focus on sensitive, responsible and reliable reporting. 34 participants were drawn from the Journalism and Mass Communication departments of universities and colleges in Delhi and Srinagar that are partnering with WISCOMP in its Hum Kadam initiative. Through the workshop the aspiring journalists were motivated to communicate issues, problems and stories set within a conflict context in such a manner that it opened up spaces for conflict resolution and transformation.

The program entailed the exploration of specific themes that were connected to media ecology and ethical issues that professional journalists encounter in the field. the workshop sessions included – Digital Story-telling, Peace Journalism, New Media, Oral Histories, and Corporatization of Media, among others.

The participants acknowledged that in their professional training at the universities they had not been exposed to the ideas they learnt at the workshop. When asked to give their feedback on the most useful learning from the workshop there was a collective view that itwas essential to foster peace though journalism and learn how to report about a conflict by exploring and acknowledging different perspectives and respecting alternate truths.

Collaborative Research

Attitudes of Teachers in India and Pakistan: Texts and Contexts

During the course of Conflict Transformation workshops WISCOMP received requests from participants for supporting collaborative research projects undertaken by young professionals from India and Pakistan. It was felt that such collaborative projects could enable participants to engage with each other’s worldviews and jointly generate options for the transformation of the conflict between the two countries.

As a response WISCOMP invited applications from the Conflict Transformation Workshop alumni for a collaborative research award. The first in this series of collaborative research was awarded to Michelle Baxter (Program Officer, Action Aid, Chennai) and Zahid Shahab Ahmed (Program Officer, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Islamabad) for their project titled Attitudes of Teachers in India and Pakistan: Texts and Contexts.

The research sought to explore how teachers in India and Pakistan induce “enemy images” in the minds of students, and how this indoctrination influences processes of peacebuilding and nation-building. It also examined the content of history textbooks and their role in perpetuation of hostility between the two countries. The findings of the research were published by WISCOMP in 2007.

Spaces for Reconciliation and Justice

WISCOMP supported Mr. Harsh Mander, Managing Trustee, Aman Biradari Trust, in a project to study processes of justice and reconciliation in Gujarat. Titled, Communal Socio-political Movements in Independent India: Spaces for Reconciliation and Justice, the project had two components.

• Action research that documents the activities of community based teams in Gujarat engaged in processes of reconciliation that include but also go beyond processes of legal justice. The action research was being systematically documented through a monthly newsletter.

• Academic research, which will looked at how practice and theory could be synergized in the new and emerging field of Reconciliation.

Making Women Count for Peace

In the year 2012-13, WISCOMP established a multi-year partnership with Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and five other research institutions in India and Nepal to collaboratively work on the project ‘Making Women Count for Peace: Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in South Asia’. With a focus on contemporary Northeast India and post-conflict Nepal, the project addresses the role of women in governance and politics, particularly within the context of peace and security processes.

The goal is to investigate what women’s empowerment might mean in different contexts, i.e. in protracted conflict without third party mediation in Northeast India, and a post-conflict setting with heavy multilateral and international involvement as in Nepal. The investigators approach this question by studying how gendered political power is transformed in conflict, assuming that differences in the forms and expressions of gendered power relations during and after conflict impact on how ‘empowerment’ might be achieved. By contextualizing and tracing manifestations of gendered political power in conflict as well as post-conflict settings, the project seeks to contribute new knowledge on processes of ‘disempowerment’ and ‘empowerment’ in conflict and peacebuilding.

The project will produce both academic and policy-relevant output, including recommendations to policymakers on how women can play a more prominent role in peacebuilding and how such a role may be linked to the goal of women’s empowerment.