Non-violence Forum to spread a culture of peace

On April 28, HWPL held a joint forum with the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Mali to UNESCO on the theme of โ€œNon-violence Forum to spread a culture of peaceโ€. About 180 people attended the online forum, and presenters from various countries in Europe, Africa, and the Americas had time to present and discuss the reality of domestic violence and school violence after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UNESCO Mali Ambassador Amadou Opa Thiam, who hosted the forum, said, โ€œAllow me to greet and congratulate, very warmly, “HWPL France”, which has understood that it is now high time to take action. This violence must stop. It has no place in the 21st century. Positive change is possible.โ€

The presentation on domestic violence and school violence continued.

Domestic Violence

ย Christine Maze, President of the Bordeaux Bar Association, gave a presentation on domestic violence, the first topic of the session. She mentioned, โ€œIt is indeed a huge issue in France about this violence against women. Today in France one out of two women dies from the blows of her violent husband. Today there is really a will to fight but it is necessary to go much further. And we have Spain which is close to us and the Spanish model is a model for France.โ€

Delegate of Alma Association Against Gender Violence, Minerva Kadar Afonso, also mentioned the issue on child violence while speaking about domestic violence. Delegate Alfonso said, โ€œChildren; because they are the future generations to come if we don’t protect them, if we don’t really do everything so that they are out of this violence, they will reproduce it.โ€ Furthermore, the implementation of policies on training experts to accelerate awareness on violence was emphasized.

Assistant Professor Mohamed Diawara of ESC Mali School of Management noted the domestic violence occurring in his country and said that promoting womenโ€™s rights means ensuring womenโ€™s safety against all forms of violence. To end and prevent violence at home, we need to cultivate experts from all walks of life, and teach female and male students how to respect each other through the education system.

School Violence

ย In the second session, four presenters talked about the issues on school violence. The first presenter was Ali DAOU who is in charge of the culture program at the UNESCO Office in Bamako, Mali. He shared several cooperation measures established in Mali and said for children exposed to violence we need to help them become mentally tough and embrace cultural diversity. He also explained that children should be able to experience and learn the culture of peace by creating a space for conversations in schools for resolving conflicts peacefully and other things.

Counsellor Bouchra Sirsalane of Puteau City Hall spoke on the issue of cyberbullying among young people in France. It was emphasized that concrete actions should be taken to raise awareness for this topic. Some examples are schools having experts educate and train students to behave ethically and responsibly on social media, or operating prevention and health awareness centers where teenagers and parents can be educated together. Counsellor Bouchra Sirsalane added, media and digital education should be strengthened on a national level so students can manage their own online identity and act properly on social media.

Senior Lecture Maria Hadjielia Drotarova of CTL Eurocollege, Limassol emphasized, โ€œEducation is the foundation, the basis of human transformation. Today, we see that peace education has become an important issue and a major concern for researchers and educators around the world. Indeed, recent research shows that the earlier children are introduced to knowledge of peace and practice related skills, the more likely they are to become agents of positive change in the future. Peace education can be delivered to a specific or broader audience, such as us, students, their peers, and professors, scholars, lecturers, teachers, and other academic personnel within institutions of higher learning, thus promoting knowledge of a culture of peace.โ€

Lastly, Thomas Smith, a teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, highlighted the importance of peace education as a way to solve school violence. Mr Smith said, โ€œWe cannot turn a blind eye to the reality of violence, for it comes in all forms. But these tragic realities can be solved, through peace education, and no mother, no brother, no sister, no family will ever again suffer from violence committed by students against other students. We must teach our youth and future generations that peace begins with oneself.”

After the presentations, the audience and presenters freely answered questions and shared their experiences related to the topic.