Leaders of civil society working on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Following on from the successful hosting of a “Peacebuilding School for Gender Activists” in August 2011, International Alert gathered together some of the most promising and talented young women activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh for a three-day workshop from 6th to 8th December, as part of a wider project funded by the US State Department.The aims of the workshop were to share experiences of peacebuilding and the work that groups of young activists are currently undertaking within their own societies, to gather input and advice from the more experienced generation of female activists from the region, and to work on establishing the participants’ own network as well as coming up with ideas for new projects.The participants visited the Women’s Information Centre in Tbilisi, looking at how this organisation has developed over time and how it works to provide information on women’s rights and gender issues throughout the South Caucasus.During the session, the participants also had time to elaborate their ideas for projects in their own societies, including working with disabled veterans of the war, organising online art exhibitions, an anthology of youth writing, creating a network of women bloggers and a series of simultaneously held public events in all three regions, like a “Festival of Peace” and flash mobs. All of these events aim to promote peace and disseminate information about the different sides of the conflict.The workshop was very interesting for the participants, as they had the opportunity to debate and reflect on the role of women in society and in conflict areas, including discussion on a case study of the plight of women in Afghanistan, presented by the Director of Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS), Chitra Nagarajan.Overall, the 21 participants showed a high level of activity, engagement and interest in the issues presented, and it is hoped that they will continue to work together in the future, supporting and becoming part of the ”peace constitutency” of civil society activists in their own communities.