2021 was a difficult year for global peace and security, with rises in violence, political instability, and social unrest exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, here at Transformative Peace, we are hopeful for the year ahead, seeing plenty of opportunities to contribute to inclusive, transformative peacebuilding processes in 2022. We send our deepest gratitude to all of our partners and supporters for putting their trust in our peacebuilding efforts this year, and look forward to continued opportunities to collaborate in the year ahead.
TP sends everyone best wishes for the holiday season and a happy new year! We look forward to another year of engaging with communities and key stakeholders all over the globe to tackle some of the most pressing topics in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
Our Transformative Conversations
In 2021, Transformative Peace convened 5 conversations that aimed to introduce new perspectives, raise awareness, and spark critical conversations within the realm of inclusive peacebuilding. We look forward to hosting more of these conversations in 2022!
Dismantling Islamophobia in France: Finding a Sustainable & Strategic Response - In a Transformative Conversation held January 5, 2021, Dr. Houda Abadi spoke with French Muslim activist and former CCIF Director Marwan Muhammad on the rising tide of institutionalized Islamophobia in France and how to promote equity and inclusive policies that push back against systemic hate and bigotry. He highlighted key spaces for action to prevent and counter Islamophobia as prioritizing self-care and ones’ own inherent dignity that cannot be taken away, drawing best practices and lessons learned from efforts to combat structural racism in other countries; raising awareness on international platforms where politicians feel accountable; and elevating the voices of members of the Muslim community.
Women’s Meaningful Participation in Peace Processes: Challenges and Opportunities - On March 5, 2021, Transformative Peace’s Dr. Houda Abadi spoke with Karin Ryan, Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Special Representative on Women and Girls at The Carter Center, for a discussion on women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and how to advance a more inclusive agenda. Ms. Ryan discussed the need to push for better policy, amplify the voices of women who are in the trenches, ensure we do no harm, and listen to the local communities. The conversation also highlighted the frequent hypocrisy of UN or internationally-led initiatives that seek to implement Women, Peace, and Security agendas abroad but who do not prioritize women’s inclusion themselves, the need to engage men as allies, and concrete ways to harness religious leadership as a force to advocate for women’s rights.
Religious Peacebuilding: Challenges and Opportunities for Transformative Peace - On May 27, 2021, Dr. Abadi hosted Rev. Dr. Fatimah S. Salleh and Ms. Omar Manal for a conversation on the state of religiously-motivated violence and discrimination in the world today, including the impact of COVID-19, the new tools being used by religious peacebuilders to transform conflict, and the potential for religious peacebuilding to contribute to lasting social and transitional justice. Throughout the discussion, the panelists offered powerful insights about the dangers of religious reductionism, the role of governments in instrumentalizing religion for political aims, intra-religious dialogue as a tool to foster women's inclusion in faith-based peacebuilding, and how religions around the world are responding to social justice movements.
The Critical Role of Civil Society in Peacebuilding - On October 1, 2021, Transformative Peace hosted Dr. Marie-Joëlle Zahar for a conversation about the role of civil society in peace processes, including how civil society’s participation can strengthen the social contract between state and society, what is to be gained from their participation, and how to operationalize civil society’s meaningful inclusion. Through the lens of their direct experiences supporting civil society in contexts such as Syria, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr. Zahar and Dr. Abadi engaged in a lively exchange on the importance of local peace initiatives, how they can best be supported by the international community and the risks that local civil society organizations face when they partner with international organizations.
South to South Collaboration: Catalyzing Pan-African Youth Leadership - On December 2, 2021 Transformative Peace hosted Dr. Kofi Osei-Kusi, president and founder of the Pan-African Leadership Institute, about how pan-Africanism can catalyze African education systems in order to break the mental legacies of colonialism and unlock the transformative power of African identities. While many of colonialism’s legacies on the African continent have been tangible, such as outstanding debts and plundering of national resources, Drs. Osei-Kusi and Abadi spoke about the intangible cultural and ideological legacies of colonialism, which continue to have an impact on the confidence, self-acceptance, and perceived autonomy of many individuals from formerly-colonized countries. To illustrate this phenomenon, Dr. Osei-Kusi used the metaphor of a fish who was kept in a small drinking glass for many years, and, after being transferred to the ocean, continued to swim around in the same circle. “Years and years of colonialism, being oppressed, and being made to feel that you’re secondary or not fully human--the fact that the ‘glass’ of colonialism has been removed does not mean that you’re free in your mind.” To that end, he explained, there is a huge need for educational opportunities that are rooted in indigenous values and an understanding of African history that can liberate people and set their minds free; to “re-brand” Africa and challenge dominant narratives about inferiority, and to develop new “leaders with heart” who can do the re-branding. “A key ingredient is knowledge production that deconstructs hegemonic narratives, where we have education systems where critical thinking is encouraged and fostered in order to distance itself from the old system, in order to have a new generation of transformational leaders that are equipped and have the tools to critique and break the old way of doing things,” said Dr. Abadi. Pan-Africanism offers a set of values that can underpin African education systems in order to break the mental legacies of colonialism and unlock the transformative power of African identities. Dr. Osei-Kusi explained that the national borders we know today were artificially constructed, and in spite of them, most African countries share languages, ethinc groups, and a rich history. “Unfortunately, some of the divisions were made to colonize or to rule people. When we come together we’re able to be strong and we’re able to share our common culture, strengthen ourselves and build prosperity...a stronger Africa is good for the world.” Dr. Osei-Kusi spoke of the gaps between ambitious policy frameworks that seek to empower youth in Africa and foster pan-African collaboration and the realities on the ground. He spoke of a general lack of funding for the implementation of policy instruments, and the need for greater innovation among African leaders in order to overcome dependency on foreign funding and foster local ownership.
Our Transformative News
Our newsletters are another way of engaging in transformative conversations for the peacebuilding field by raising awareness of emerging and best practices in conflict transformation to contribute to peacebuilders' abilities to deliver equitable, just, and dignifying interventions. In 2021, we shared newsletters about the Women, Peace, and Security agenda; the changing landscape of violent extremism; the role of religion in peacebuilding; the importance of community-based rehabilitation and reintegration for former violent extremists; the role of civil society and youth in peacebuilding; and the need for inclusive partnerships and south-to-south collaboration in peacebuilding.
Our Transformative Peacebuilding Activities
Transformative Peace works with a range of partners on a diversity of peacebuilding themes. Here are just a few activities we’ve collaborated on in 2021:
TP led several gender mainstreaming workshops for our long-term partner, the International Organization on Migration (IOM), which engaged local civil society organizations in Tangier and Tetouan, Morocco, and focused on deconstructing the social determinants of gender in relation to the socio-political context of northern Morocco.
TP led a workshop on mainstreaming gender and indigenous perspectives in peacebuilding for the ‘Beyond Borders’ cohort in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Women, Peace, and Security
Dr. Houda Abadi served as a guest lecturer at her Alma Mater, Luther College, discussing Women, Peace, and Security.
Preventing Violent Extremist
Transformative Peace developed a white paper for IOM- Morocco on Resilience, Development and PVE, and also a desk review on PVE and WPS.
Transformative Peace developed a policy paper for UNESCO on gendered approaches to preventing violent extremism in North Africa. The report made important contributions to gender and PVE in North Africa by examining gendered dynamics and trajectories of violent extremism in the region and efforts to prevent them, gendered assumptions that drive current policies, and lastly, policy recommendations that engage with gender in a meaningful and effective way.
Dr. Houda Abadi designed and chaired a roundtable conversation organized for USAID and IOM, fostering dialogue between policymakers and CSOs around PVE practices and policy.
Dr. Abadi delivered guest lectures for two cohorts at the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute’s North Africa Class, focusing on rights-based approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration, the current gaps and challenges with P/CVE programs, and the role of the inclusive processes in addressing exclusion and marginalization.
Dr. Houda Abadi gave 4 guest lectures to the North Africa class at the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute on the changing landscape of violent extremism in North Africa.
Rehabilitation and Reintegration
Transformative Peace developed a curriculum to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of women and children in the Maldives, in partnership with International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD).
Dr. Houda Abadi participated in a panel discussion hosted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) where she presented on the challenges and best practices for gendered approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration of returning foreign fighters.
Dr. Houda Abadi delivered a guest lecture at Emory University on the rehabilitation and reintegration of returning foreign terrorist fighters, especially women and children (RFTFs).
Islamic Frameworks for Conflict Resolution and Human Rights
Transformative Peace partnered with LSE to develop a policy paper on Islamic Frameworks for conflict resolution, with a focus on women’s rights in fragile contexts.
2021 In Numbers
Our Transformative Partners
Transformative Peace is deeply grateful for the support of its partners who work tirelessly to advance peacebuilding efforts around the world. In 2021, we had the pleasure of collaborating with:
International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD)
International Organization for Migration - Morocco
London School of Economics
Folke Bernadotte Academy
Exciting News for the Transformative Peace Team
WELCOMING OUR SPRING 2022 INTERNS
Transformative Peace is thrilled to welcome two new interns for the upcoming Spring semester, Austin Langdon and Teresa Fuertes Bellosillo, who will contribute to TP’s research and peacebuilding programs. You can read more about them below:
Austin Langdon recently graduated from George Mason University with a masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution with a concentration in Extremism and Conflict Transformation. He completed his undergraduate studies at Miami University with a double major in Political Science and Journalism.
Teresa Fuertes Bellosillo is a peace and conflict professional with experience working in governmental and non-governmental organizations in the Middle East. She holds an MSc in Conflict Resolution and Governance from the University of Amsterdam, and she has focused her research on the influence of third states and international organizations in peace processes in the Middle East and Latin America.