Center for Peace and Justice (CPJ), BRAC University, and UN Women organized a ‘National Colloquium on Learnings from the Women Peace Café initiative in Bangladesh” on 28th March, 2022 at the Spectra Convention Center, Dhaka. This was the closing event of the project ‘Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities’ undertaken by UN Women Bangladesh and CPJ.
Muhammad Badiuzzaman, Research Coordinator of CPJ and Zia Uddin, Project Manager presented on the learning outcomes of Women Peace Café initiative in Bangladesh, in the first session of the event.
Since 2018, Women Peace Café has built capacity of young female students on Social Entrepreneurship, Online Peacebuilding and Social Cohesion, Digital Literacy and through mentorship from faculties. Through the generous support from the Government of Japan and technical assistance from UN Women, this platform helped students to engage in activities including Peace Addas, competitions both online and offline, awareness raising on COVID-19 response in vulnerable communities, reaching youth across the country.
The Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, H.E. Ito Naoki was present as the Guest of Honour at the event. Praising the initiative, he said, “I was very impressed by young female leaders from respective universities from Rangpur, Mymensingh, and Dhaka, who empowered vulnerable communities at a grassroots level in partnership with CPJ, BRAC University, and UN Women. The change will not take place one day; however, they are the leaders who will change their community. I hope that young leaders will continue each initiative even after their graduation towards achieving peaceful and cohesive society.”
BRAC University Vice-Chancellor Professor Vincent Chang was the chair of the session. Highlighting on a more student-centered education, he said that Peace Café is one of the successful examples for undertaking student activities and learning outside the classroom.
“We have established four Women Peace Cafes (WPS) in regional and national universities through this partnership and trained students on social entrepreneurship, peace-building and social cohesion. The key takeaway now is to ensure the continuation and sustainability of this model.” said Diya Nanda, Deputy Country Representative of UN Women Bangladesh.
The first session was closed with the Vote of Thanks from Tania Sharmin, Programme Analyst, UN Women Bangladesh and this event moderated by Shahariar Sadat, Director of Academic and Legal Empowerment, Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC.
The second session of the event included a Peace Adda, an informal dialogue on ‘Experience of Women Peace Ambassador Initiative and its Practice’. As a core part of the WPC platform, 106 Women Peace Ambassadors were selected for innovative social entrepreneurship engaging 290 volunteers, that further benefitted 580 community women across 30 districts. Fifteen Women Peace Ambassadors were awarded for their extraordinary contribution.
The event also awarded the winners of a video contest titled “Women as the Catalyst of Peace, Security and Prosperity Off and Online” that took place online through WPC social media platforms.
Dr. Samia Huq, Dean, School of General Education, Professor, Department of Economics & Social Sciences and Research Fellow, Centre for Peace & Justice, Brac University and Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, Senior Policy Adviser – SRHR and Gender, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands were the chief guests of the second session.
Dr. Dave Dowland, Registrar, BRAC University presided over the second session. In his speech he emphasized on student’s social activism and called the young Peace Café as the change makers in their communities.
The second session was closed with the Vote of Thanks from Zia Uddin, Project Manager of Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), BRAC University.
Women Peace Café (WPC) is a university-based platform for young female students to engage in knowledge sharing, social entrepreneurship and civic engagement to promote women’s empowerment, peace and social cohesion by fostering innovative ideas and working with vulnerable communities. Currently there are four peace cafés at BRAC University, University of Dhaka, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University and Begum Rokeya University under the guidance of Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), supported by UN Women Bangladesh, with the generous funding from the Government of Japan.