While we head towards International Youth Day on 12th August, Safecity is taking this opportunity to honour women peacebuilders through this series on Women Peacebuilders. We invited women peacebuilders to speak of their experience of using different tools towards peacebuilding in an attempt to showcase the massive change women leaders are bringing towards developing peace and to build collective learnings for those who want to be engaged in peacebuilding processes.
Series curated by Vandita Morarka
Edited by Renita Siqueira
Rukmini Iyer is a leadership facilitator, coach and organizational transformation consultant with over 17 years of experience in South Asia and the Middle East. She’s also a trained conflict resolution specialist and peacebuilder. She is based in Mumbai, India and runs a proprietary consulting firm Exult! Solutions and a peacebuilding platform called The Womb Tales. She also serves as a Director on the Board of Quantei South Asia Pvt Ltd and leads the Human Capital function for the organization across Asia. Recently, the Institute for Economics and Peace has conferred upon her the honorary title of Global Peace Index Ambassador. Among her current projects, she is leading an initiative to create feminine leadership in agriculture in India.
1. What got you started on your peace journey?
Rukmini: I had a fairly emotionally and physically violent childhood. The need for peace, as an individual, perhaps stemmed from there. Later, as a psychologist, I had a natural interest in looking at what causes conflict in relationships, communities and between countries and looked at possible solutions. This resulted in my working on conflict resolution projects with my corporate clients with whom I used to do leadership consulting. Then, the peace journey was formalised and broadened when I was awarded the Rotary Peace Fellowship in 2013. Working with a cohort of 20 fellows from around the world was a great experience in terms of being able to appreciate different perspectives on peace and the experience deepened my commitment towards peacebuilding.
2. How have you engaged with conflict resolution practices towards Peacebuilding, at a broader level and in everyday life?
Rukmini: I run peace circles (local and virtual) almost every month where we work on a specific theme around peacebuilding each month, such as gender, privilege, etc. The idea is to equip common citizens with peacebuilding techniques and hope that they create a ripple effect in their families, work places and communities. It is important that civilians engage actively in peacebuilding for us to aspire towards world peace.
The professional work I do also facilitates utilisation of a lot of conflict resolution practices, since I work with individuals and organisations to address conscious and unconscious issues that create conflict. I address these issues through facilitation and coaching techniques.
3. What are the challenges you have faced?
Rukmini: The primary challenge is disengagement. Sometimes it takes a while to get people to understand that conflicts need to be actively engaged with. There is also a lack of ownership around world peace, perhaps because we do not engage in enough dialogue. As a human race, we need to get comfortable with the idea of things not being black or white, for us to give peace a chance.
4. How do you think conflict resolution techniques can be leveraged better in everyday life towards Peacebuilding?
Rukmini: It will really help to have more spaces for dialogue, whether physically or virtually. Also, engaging children in peacebuilding in critical. The earlier we get people to realise that peace begins at the level of the individual and is an internal process to start with, the better the chances of these individuals sharing their peace with the world. Also certain techniques such as non-violent communication and appreciative inquiry can be easily used by people in all spheres of life including student life, parenting, work places, etc. We need to explore avenues to educate people on these techniques in a manner that is easy and affordable.
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