Network roundtable: “I feel the energy. We all want peace.”

Ever since a team around our founder and president gathered the names of 1000 women peacebuilders from across the globe and nominated them collectively for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, we have understood how fundamental networks are to peacebuilding and specifically to women’s peace work. We also know: networks need to be cultivated and cared for. With this in mind, we invited 12 women peacebuilders to come together in Bern in February 2024.

For this first in-person exchange, we invited women from Cameroon to Ukraine, from Brazil to Guam. Among them were programme partners, women who have written for our “Feminists Connecting for Peace” magazine, women who have participated in and spoken at our webinars and one of the 1000 PeaceWomen, Tecla Namajanja Wanjala from Kenya. The roundtable offered the opportunity for everyone to share their vast individual and collective knowledge and experience, to brainstorm and strategise on how best to collaborate to achieve common goals and strengthen the network.

From brainstorming to storytelling

We used different methodologies to foster engagement: plenary discussions, brainstorming sessions, group work – and an outdoor storytelling exercise on Bern’s “house mountain”, the Gurten. Over the two days, we explored, exchanged, reflected and connected – building and strengthening our network.

“It is not easy, in our countries not everyone wants peace,” said Olga Karatch, a Belarusian activist at the conclusion of the roundtable. “But I am very impressed with how many women from the whole world want the same thing. I feel the energy. We all want to have peace.” Women’s rights activist Vera Vieira, director of the Associação Mulheres pela Paz, said she would take “affection and friendship” back to Brazil with her “and also much more energy to continue the effort for justice.”

It is an incredible feeling when you meet and understand all these people from all over the world. It is something I tell myself, that networking is possible, and we can be connected

— Olena Zinenko, Ukraine

Photos: Kim Divina Eggimann/PeaceWomen Across the Glob