New PhD student will research women-to-women diplomacy
- Women’s organizations connect people that otherwise would not be able or willing to talk. In doing so they open up communication in contexts where it previously seemed impossible, says the new PhD student at the Department of Political Science, Magda Lorena Cardenas. Focusing on the initiatives developed by grassroots organizations in Myanmar and Georgia, and how these can change conflict narratives, she suggests that women can play a particular role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding by building bridges and creating common fields of dialogue.
Together with Rosa Emilia Salamanca and Lucia Ramirez she has published Indigenous women and Colombia’s Peace Process, Pathways to participation, which can be found HERE (or copy the link to your browser: http://www.c-r.org/resources/indigenous-women-and-colombias-peace-process)
After working for the Colombian government for seven years with gender issues, and human rights policy-design, some luck brought her to Umeå University: - I was very lucky when I found that Umeå had this research program, and a project related to women’s involvement in peace: It was exactly what I wanted to do research on. So it was very good timing.
Cardenas is fascinated by how apparently small strategies can have such a big impact on the transformation of a conflict, and sees commonalities among the capacities of women to create common fields of dialogue, common fields of operations in across such different contexts as Myanmar, Georgia and Colombia.
By exploring alternative ways of influencing peacebuilding and conflict resolution, Cardenas is an important part of the research environment where the Varieties of Peace research program is situated. Women-to-women diplomacy is her own concept and is a peacebuilding strategy based on the commonalities of women; their experiences of the conflict, their understanding of the conflict and the analysis that they have made of the power relations and the structural factors of the conflict. This knowledge and experiences give them several instruments for alternative proposals related to local peacebuilding. After working on the theoretical framework, Cardenas is now trying to get a good picture of the level of participation of women in the peace processes in Myanmar and trying to identify strategic organizations for her fieldwork.