SALO’s Research and Liaison Officer, Milisuthando Mbete participated in DIRCO’s South African Women’s Capacity Building Programme on Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation from 1 – 5 August 2019. This was followed by the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum on Conflict Resolution and Peace-making from 6 – 8 August 2019. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor gave the Keynote address at the graduation ceremony. As the 2019 Class Representative, Ms Mbete presented the words of appreciation and lessons learnt from the capacity building programme.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honour to stand here today on behalf of my fellow classmates who have become sisters and mothers and have devotedly taken on this journey to participate in the 2019 South African Women’s Capacity-Building Programme on Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation. Our inclusion in this course has not been taken lightly as we realise the important role each of us play in shaping our communities.
We thank the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Norwegian government for affording us this great opportunity that has not only been lesson-filled but also a great reminder of the contribution of our foremothers who have gracefully and unwaveringly, contributed to the attainment of peace in our communities – which has often come without praise.
This training program has made visible the voices and experiences of a diverse group of women, from crime fighters at the grassroots level, those formerly incarcerated, researchers, government officials, advocates and authors who represent different cultures and backgrounds. The richness in diversity and the inter-generational mix affirms our intersectional struggles but also our commitment to peace and security led by women.
Undoubtedly, we have all come out with an understanding of conflict at a personal level and
in our communities for us to learn, unlearn and also to practice and teach. For us, this now means focusing on the process rather than the issues and outcomes. As one of our facilitators reminded us “we need to go slow in order to go fast”. That peacebuilding must happen thoroughly for it to be sustainable.
Our participation in this programme coincides with Women’s Month, which recognises the leadership of women in South Africa and also focuses on the present challenges of women. We have also concluded our training with the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum (now Gertrude Shope Annual Peace and Mediation Network). Mme Shope’s legacy as an education, apartheid and gender activists calls us to reflect deeper on how we lead. Understanding that our struggles are intersectional, leadership extends to all aspects of our lives and requires that we proceed with a radical, practically orientated approach. This approach allows us to transverse boundaries that may divide us and form enduring connections.
We thank you once again for affording us this opportunity.”