Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia

by Peace Dialogue NGO
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia
Help Young People to Build Peace in Armenia

Peace Dialogue NGO organized a three-day workshop entitled Young Womens Leadership Workshop from August 15 -17. It was aimed at capacity building in human rights, democracy and peaceful settlement of the conflicts for young women and girls who are involved in civic activism in different cities and villages of Armenia. A number of young women and girls from Lori, Shirak, and Tavush regions participated in the workshop.

During the workshop the participants were given an opportunity to observe the interconnections between different social phenomena based on their own experience, as well as the influence of such phenomena on different political and civic processes. The participants were introduced to the concepts of “violence” and “conflict”. They tried to observe the role of democracy in the processes of peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Through different activities the participants talked about identities and about numerous phenomena that have influence on these identities.

Moreover, on their own examples, as well as on staged examples, the participants tried to analyze and understand the needs and the fears behind the behaviors of the parties involved in the conflict.

n addition to providing theoretical knowledge and tools to the participants, the organizers also aimed at creating a platform for the participant to learn from each other by sharing their experience and lessons learned in numerous spheres.

At the end of the workshop, referring to the content of the program, many of the participants mentioned that, aside from the knowledge gained from the workshop topics, it was particularly noteworthy that certain concepts, such as peace building, gender and identity were interpreted from alternative perspective.

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In the 1980s a group of Jewish scholars and teachers were concerned about the growing hostility towards democratic values and growing ethnocentrism in the Jewish society. They had already recorded long time ago the failure of the education system in the area of peace and democracy. These factors, as well as the murder of a peaceful activist in 1985 during the protest against the war in Lebanon became stimuli for this group of teachers and scholars, who are devoted to the principles of democracy, to establish the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace in Israel. It was meant for playing an active role in bringing up reforms in political and peace building sciences.

The founders believed that the education programs in democracy and peace should include and address the conflicts and values in the society. Based on this notion the institute program was developed which contained a completely different approach - a system of experience based / practice oriented methods. The educational program created by interested people was named Betzavta (Togetherness).

Following the logic, we decided to organize a training in our city and give an opportunity to our participants to measure how democratic and peace-minded they are.  On April 19, 2014, seventeen young people from Vanadzor took part in the first training course based on this methodology at Peace Dialogue NGO. The training course aimed at creating controversies and alternative situations on equality and freedom, the principles of democracy, the majority and minority issues. The participants who shared the same cultural values, when put in difficult situations, were to try to find non-formal ways of cooperation and to identify their own behaviors.

The peculiarity of the training was that it created a platform for the participants to measure the degree of respect and importance towards democracy, as well as the capacity in cooperation and willingness in the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The method was quite interesting and powerful for the participants. One of the participants mentioned: “Despite that fact that we consider ourselves democratic and it seems like all our actions are driven by that principle, however, during the activities very often it became clear that in our daily life and in similar situations we pay little attention to our behavior and perceptions, and their connection with the democratic principles.”

Now we are working on preparation of a workshop related to the topics about stereotypes, gender based issues and cultural violation.  Young women from all over Armenia will be involved in the process. As we mentioned in our project description, there would be no achievement of peace in the region without reducing or in a better way- overcoming indifference, taboos and culture- based violence within the societies. In our socio-cultural context it’s very important to work especially with young women who are the most suffered part of the society bearing on their shoulders the most heavy part of cultural violence.

Once again we want to say great thanks to those people who supported us and gave us an opportunity to extend our work in a hard process of peace-creation.     


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Leading by the concept that violence within the society is possible to reduce by following the  principles of democracy and civil involvement  we initiated the workshop giving chance to men and women for equal participatory in community budget planning experience.  

How to make people more responsible for their districts, towns, and cities? How to bring the community closer to local decision making? How to achieve participation of ordinary people in local politics? These are the questions that the participants of the workshop were trying to answer during a simulation game on participatory budgeting for an imaginary city called “Noravan”. 
The workshop was held on March 22 at Peace Dialogue
s office. More than 25 people took part in the workshop. It was prepared and facilitated by the project manager of "Violence has many faces" from Peace Dialogue NGO and an EVS volunteer from Poland.

Participatory Budgeting offers an alternative to representative democracy. It is a democratic way to manage public money. PB is a democratic process in which community members have direct participation in public expenditure management.

The mechanism was developed in the early 1980s in poor slums (favelas) at the city outskirts of Porto Alegre in Brazil. It was a time when Brazil was under military regime driven by the Armed Forces against the democratically elected government. The PB was initiated as a response of ordinary citizens towards negligence of their local governments.

Currently, there are several thousand participatory Budgets around the world. They exist in such countries as Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, USA, France, England, Italy, Poland and many others. Most of them are for the city budgets; however this method is also used in schools, universities, cooperatives, regions and other institutions to give real power to people.

During the workshop participants played roles of the residents living in four districts in an imaginary city “Noravan”. They were making collective decisions on public expenditure according to the needs of their particular characters and the priorities of their neighborhoods.

Due to simulation, participants could exercise in practice how to bring ordinary people closer to decision making process.

The simulation was followed by a discussion during which the participants highlighted the necessity of a similar mechanism in Armenia. "It's hard to input this practice in Armenia, but it's not impossible. There should be civil will and consciousness for such kind of civil involvement" - said one of the participants of the workshop. 

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During the last few months Peace Dialogue NGO had a number of meetings with its partners from the sides involved in the conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh to discuss the preliminary activities for the “Violence Had Many Faces” project. As usual during this period we held meetings with the representatives of the NK conflict parties introducing them the theatrical methods used in the youth peace building activities and shared our experience with them.

Why we chose the theatrical methods?.

From point of view of our staff members, the educational component is particularly important and the theatrical methods are a part of our educational activity. The methods selected by the organization for developing analytical and critical skills among young people involved in the peace movement would give an opportunity to raise the profoundly taboo issues in society that include elements of violence and human rights violations and abuse. Methods that would create a platform for resolving those issues through nonviolent have been chosen.

The economical, social and political situation in the country, as well as in the region, and the experience acquired in previous years by the organization were the base for selecting theatrical tools as more effective and applicable tools, especially in youth peace work.

Thus, Peace Dialogue activity is based on the Brazilian Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and theatrical methods of Brazilian socio-political activist Augusto Boal. There are at least two reasons for this choice. First, the methods were quite interesting and motivating and with their help it is possible to raise even the most taboo issues, look at the problem from different dimensions, and discuss and identify interests and needs of different parties involved in the conflict. Second, it decreases the possibility of aggression in the existing repressive political context.     

The majority of our partners also agree that the theatrical methods provide an opportunity to reach trust inside the group and faster integration of the participants in the group. In addition, the work with theatrical methods makes it a lot easier to implement initiatives on the local level, to involve broader segments of the society and to raise numerous tangible and taboo issues.

However, the lack of the money designed and collected for the project still remains an urgent issue. More than $25.000 is needed for the implementation of the project, whereas only $3000 has been collected so far. Nevertheless, PD NGO goes on with the fundraising from various sources. In this respect we anticipate the support from our partner organizations, foundations, and individuals from different countries.

The PD staff is grateful to all the individuals and organizations who donated money for the project implementation.  We are grateful that you appreciate our work and share our perceptions in peace building. We'll periodically share our activities, success and even difficulties we'd face on the way of the project implementation. Once again thank you for your support.


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Organization Information

Peace Dialogue NGO

Location: Vanadzor, Lori - Armenia
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @peacedialogue
Peace Dialogue NGO
Armine Zakaryan
Project Leader:
Armine Zakaryan
Vanadzor , Lori Armenia

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