Supporting women, creating peace

Cindy Chokoza, International Womens Peace Group Cape Town regional representative, speaking at their event last week.

Women have the power to create peace because they are the foundations of society – but they also need support.

This was the message of the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) “Conversations for Peace” talk at The Centre for the Book in the city centre on the topic “Nurturing a Culture of Peace”.

The IWPG is a non-profit, non-government organisation comprised of women of all ages and from all walks of life and invites women to share their thoughts, as well as learn from others, on how they are all able to actively nurture a culture of peace within their homes, communities, workplaces and ultimately the nation. It drives home the message that women are key role-players in creating a culture of peace.

The IWPG is also working for the cessation of wars and world peace with all women around the world.

Cindy Chokoza, IWPG Cape Town regional representative, said the group was formed by chairperson Nam Hee (Maria) Kim, and the international headquarters is in Seoul, South Korea.

“She wanted to build a legacy of peace for all women and children and protect them from war. She decided to start this group and to show that women can protect themselves and their children.”

The IWPG’s mission is to raise awareness about peace, and bring this awareness to everyone around the world, as well as working hand in hand with global female leaders and women’s organisations, providing assistance and support in places that are desperately seeking peace.

“All of humanity has the right to freedom and happiness. Yet, throughout the history of mankind, there has never been a time of true peace and harmony, instead there have been disputes and wars, which have taken away people’s right to freedom and peace,” said Ms Chokoza.

She said even though she is not a mother, she hopes to be one day soon, and this is what inspired her to join the organisation. Ms Chokoza stressed that to ensure that no more young lives are sacrificed in the frontlines of battle, and that everyone’s right to happiness is guaranteed, the IWPG will implement the War Cessation Movement. “We will protect all youth with the love of mothers, and bring peace and unity through that love.”

She said the IWPG has been working with communities in Bonteheuwel and Atlantis, and is working on building awareness in Manenberg. “The IWPG is working towards building peace committees of small groups of women, who can run different peace projects according to the needs of their communities, as well as supporting the IWPG peace agreement and helping with the Declaration of World Peace, Cessation of War (DPCW)DPCW peace campaign.”

Ms Chokoza said the IWPG is active in more than 150 countries. “The IWPG strongly believes that women have an important role in uniting in one voice and one heart to bring about peace by protecting children with a mother’s heart and creating a legacy for future generations.”

Mayco member for social development and early childhood development, Suzette Little, talked about some of the challenges communities in Cape Town are facing.

“Peace means different things to different people in different areas. South Africans are the most amazing people and I will challenge anyone to find another country like South Africa. We have overcome so many challenges.”

She said the three key things were: respect, responsibility and rights. “If I respect your rights and you, I have a responsibility and that understanding becomes important. There are so many challenges everywhere.”

She said women had the power to change society because they were the foundation. “We are starting to see communities where our women are tired because the dependence on them as caregivers and providers is becoming a burden. We as women have always been branded as the scapegoat. We need to look at how we can build up our women.”

Ms Little said she believed the IWPG could play an important role in the community.

The IWPG is planning a Women’s Month event on Saturday August 27, with the goal of gathering many women from different Cape Town communities.

More information on the organisation and the work it’s involved in world-wide can be found at www.internationalwomenspeacegroup.org.