From the 19th to the 21st July 2019, 25 women from 17 countries came together for the 2019 Creators of Peace Annual General Meeting in Caux, Switzerland. Inspiring peace builders from Cameroon, Nepal, Kenya, Australia, the UK and more united to showcase the work we have done throughout the year, sharing skills and feedback, whilst celebrating their successes and solving their difficulties.
After welcomes and introductions, we started with an overview of women’s place in the world today. Assessing a variety of areas, from economics, to relationships and climate change, the presentation aimed to provide a context for the context in which Creators of Peace is operating - alongside other international organisations also committed to empowering and assisting women. It highlighted areas of improvement and progress, especially in relation to employment and land rights, but regarding violence against women and access to healthcare it showed there is still work to be done, reinforcing our desires to strive for equality and equity, and affirming the importance of our work in contributing to positive change.
The second day started with a group activity which asked us to consider Creators of Peace activities as parts of a tree - the roots (the values that inspire us), the trunk (the activity that support our work) and the leaves and fruit (positive outcomes in women’s lives and communities). This allowed for a chance to share what projects different countries had organized around the world in 2018. Following further country updates and reflecting on lessons learnt throughout the year, we split into two groups for skills sharing.
Shared learning focused on accompaniment and team care, with representatives stressing the need for further care for facilitators in order to enhance and support their work, both emotionally and financially. We agreed to improve communications through more regular check-ins and face-to-face meetings, as well as devolving tasks and promoting inclusive leadership. Other sessions focused on fundraising and impact evaluation.
Through interviews conducted with Creators of Peace representatives from 21 countries, our report showed that in 2018, a staggering 88 peace circles engaging over 1000 participants took place, led primarily by local volunteer women. We discussed thechallenges of the data collection process, and formulated new ways to streamline and expand how we will record Creators of Peace activities in 2019/2020. One suggestion was the creation of a shared online space, where representatives could log their activities regularly throughout the year.
We then began the General Assembly, where we heard from the President Amina Dikedi-Ajakaiye, Executive Officer Kate Monkhouse, Secretary Anne-Claire Frank-Seisay, Treasurer Gabi Sebastyen, Ambassador Daphrose Ntarataze Barampama and Elder Jean Brown. On Sunday, elections were held for the International Committee. The five continuing committee members: Amina Dikedi-Ajakaiye, Anne-Claire Frank-Seisay, Diana Damsa, Gabi Sebastyen and Luz Stella Camacho were re-elected, alongside new members Birte Finken, Marienne Makoudem, Serena Rix Tripathee and Vinitika Lal. A motion for Kate Monkhouse to continue as Executive Director was overwhelmingly carried.
After the administration and voting had taken place, UK Coordinator Miranda Shaw led us in a craftivism workshop. Craftivism is a social process of collective empowerment, action, expression and negotiation, including various forms of needlework such as yarn-bombing and cross-stitch, which identifies strongly with feminist movements. Miranda guided us in sewing powerful slogans onto embroidery fabric, which, alongside a letter, will then be distributed to inspiring women who are giving leadership for peace all over the world.
Finally, after a brief session on action planning and prospects for the coming year, our gathering came to a close. We left feeling rejuvenated and inspired, thankful for the connections we had made throughout the weekend, and with a strengthened resolve and commitment to making a difference in our communities upon our return home.