Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), Brac University celebrated the International Peace Day with its own brain child, Women Peace Café (WPC) of Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh (JKKNIU) on Monday, 21 September 2020. The day-long celebration started with publication of peace message from various project stakeholders in social media and ended with a two-hour long ‘Peace Adda’ which held online from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm on the very day of international peace. Click here to download the peace messages flyer in PDF Or Watch a youtube video on peace messages
More than 48 participants from all over Bangladesh joined the online ‘Peace Adda’ and immensely enjoyed it thoroughly from the beginning till the end. The event was full of laughter and positive messages of peace from all the participants. Beautifully moderated by Mahmuda Sultana Shorna, Project Assistant of ‘Securing the Peace Off and Online Project’, the programme started with the welcome speech by Md. Wali Ullah, who serves the WPC, JKKNIU as the Chief Mentor. Reminiscing the past year’s Peace Adda, Mr. Wali took everyone down the memory lane and the moderator read out some of the many peace messages published in social media from project stakeholders.
The event was divided into several segments. After the welcome speech and reading out of peace messages, Ms. Jannatul Naiym, Mr. Sakar Mustafa and Mr. Sadik Hasan Shuvo were invited cordially to reflect upon their ideas of peace. All of them are Mentors at WPC, JKKNIU. During their speech, they all focused on the answers of these particular questions:
- What is peace?
- What are the barriers and challenges for peace at the local, national and international level?
- How has COVID-19 affected the pre-existing peace in our country?
- What can we do together to promote peace and social cohesion in our society both in and beyond pandemic?
Ms. Nilufa Sultana Sheta, Programme Coordinator at CPJ, BracU said, “Peace means love- love towards human beings, mother-nature, animals, society, and most importantly, state. Peace also means mutual trust and respect.” To her, all these combined is the perfect definition of peace. She further said that COVID-19 has shaken the whole world and is something beyond borders and out of human control. So, everyone has to come forward during these trying times and restore peace in the post COVID-19 era.
Next came the most awaited segment where the guest speakers shared their valuable comments and wise ideas. Md. Badiuzzaman, Research Coordintor, CPJ, BracU and Dr. Saber Ahmed Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Dhaka honored the seats of Guest Speakers for the day. Md. Badiuzzaman mentioned that there are three determinants of peace: i. International level, ii. National or macro level, and iii. Micro level. In every stage, it is the duty of individuals to play their own role. Hence, it all comes down to individual beings to establish and secure peace. So, the theme of this year’s International Peace Day- “Shaping peace together” should not only be maintained but also strengthened by everyone.
Moving on to Dr. Saber Ahmed Chowdhury, who presented another perspective where he stated that peace will not be achieved until and unless human rights of every human being is ensured as well as guaranteed. The pandemic has taught us that humans are made for each other and how they can stand hand in hand during hard times like the COVID-19. The entire world is at a standstill, yet more doctors and medical personnel are coming forward for the sake of humanity sacrificing their own safety, risking their lives. These make us dream about a better future and we can hope that peace is still somewhere inside the heart of every human being.
Ms. Tania Sharmin, Programme Analyst, Women Peace and Security, UN WOMEN, echoed the ideas of the discussants. She put forward that being able to live in a harmonious and inclusive society is peace. On the day of International Peace, she aspires to fight the inequalities the world is facing and hopes that wonderful initiatives like the Women Peace Café will keep working where the voice of the youth is heard.
After the end of the formal session, WPC members, both male and female, shared their experiences during COVID-19 and how peace has been affected by the pandemic in urban and rural areas in different parts of Bangladesh. The lively event ended with two beautiful performances by Maliha Tabassum Mithila and Rafia Islam Bhabna. Both of them are students at JKKNIU and members of WPC. To recapitulate, the vote of thanks was given by Mr. Zia Uddin, Project Manager. His positive and peaceful speech brought a wonderful conclusion to the programme. He added the Rohingya crisis as big concern for peace and security issues for South Asia and urged the global leaders to come forward to resolve the crisis. Mr. Uddin also shared his experience how digital exclusion happening during the COVID19 pandemic which may hamper the sustainable development of the country.
CPJ has facilitated the establishment of WPC at two regional universities. This is an innovative and pioneering initiative to engage young female students for promoting peace and cohesion in the society under the ‘Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities’ project, supported by UN Women.