International Women’s partnership for peace and justice (IWP)
International Women’s partnership for peace and justice (IWP) is a local feminist organization based on spirituality and social activism. The organization is working at the grassroots level focusing on women’s activism in Thailand and other Asian countries. The organization was found in the year 2002. The women led organization has three fundamental principles. The three core principles are feminism, social activism, and spiritual practice. IWP holds workshops, retreats and other training courses which are focused on discourses of feminism, social actions, and spirituality. The organizational work started in the year 1997 usually freelancing work by working systematically and strategically with groups at grassroots level practicing the culture of participation and social activism. Working at the grassroots level is to decrease the hierarchal culture that is dominating the institution and several social movements. IWP focused to transform and sustain the lives and perception at individual, groups and community level. The organization is currently working in different Asian regions other than Thailand such as Burma, Sri Lanka, and India. In these countries, the organization collaborates with the organization, community peace group, and other social activists working in these particular countries. The core principles are enacted through consultation and power-sharing, respecting and valuing diversity, combing personal practices and social transformations, understanding the structural violence, unlearning internalized patriarchy, and experiential learning.
The organization usually communicate through workshops, training, articles, podcasts and other announcements. Also, the organization integrates different mindful practices and meditations to help the participants or the focused groups in developing the internal peace which will lead to balance the personal and activist life. The working methodology usually combines various learning activities, discussions, and practices. In consultation and power-sharing, the individuals are involved in the decision making process and sharing of wisdom, information, skill, and resources are carried out at all levels. This is particularly enacted to develop the trust and friendship among participants. In our programs, we also work with people with diverse cultural and ethnic background such as diverse in religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and other belief systems. The intersectionality is a concept where life and experiences of the individuals and the groups are understood in their diversity and complexity (Hobbs & Rice, 2013). The work of IWP in the diverse environment and respecting the diversity of the community member relate to their concept of intersectionality. The training programs of the IWP understand the difference in women based on race, class, geography and other aspects and also investigate on how these factors shape the lives of women in the region.
The organization is important as it is working to bring the change in the lives of the women living in Thailand and other Asian nations. The organization offers various anti-oppression courses, meditation retreat, women’s allies for social changes, women’s natural building workshops and Buddhist Education for Social Transformation (BEST). The organization is working effectively and efficiently in realizing and fulfilling its mandate and standard priorities as most of the courses and training workshops are surrounded by those priorities. There are different ways in which the organization is working towards the inequality of women. The work of IWP also emphasizes on the patriarchal society and devising the training and courses to unlearn the internalized patriarchal society. The center of the work is that women and men should dissolve the internalization and other power dynamics as it negatively impacts the communities and individuals. The concept of unlearning patriarchal society is relevant to the concept of defining the feminism in this world as defined in Gender and Women’s Studies in Canada. According to this definition, it is believed that men and women are of equal worth and social movements are essential to achieving the equal status in the patriarchal society and women’s changing role will transform the social and political lives of individuals and communities (Hobbs & Rice, 2013).
The organization takes up the identity question by working on the individuals with a diverse background. The concept of the organizational principle of the respect looking on spirituality, gendered and other sexualities. Also, the communities work with marginalized groups and help them see and change as well as resist the structural violence. The voices are being heard at the grassroot level where IWP are working with women’s health by offering the courses on gender and sexuality. It also implies the work on IWP’s work on gender justice and helps the women raise their voices to bring social change. The organization work toward social change by providing a comprehensive 10 days training course to the women and primarily focus on utilizing Buddhist feminist framework. The purpose of this framework is to bring in inner peace while women are working towards social change in the community. The course is open to women from all cultural, religious and ethnic background as well as with any sexual preferences. The 10 days course aim to provide a platform to build a supportive community for the women who are willing and committed to bringing social change. The course also helps the women to develop a personal growth, mutual respect and some skill set to work in the community for the social change. Buddhist education for social transformation (BEST) is a yearlong course working on feminism, and non-violent activism and spiritual practices. The course covers the topic of power and analysis of powers in the society. The concept of this course material is related to the social construction of gender and gender roles as described in the book Gender and Women’s Studies in Canada. The gender is constructed socially and the roles are defined for the women related to their traditional roles such as childbearing and household (Hobbs & Rice, 2013). The BEST course is related understanding the gender roles, violence and oppression and internalization as well as self-awareness of those women participating in the course. The organization incorporates Buddhist teachings as well as their practices. The organization is working for the social change by empowering the women and helping them fight against social and structural violence in the patriarchal community. The work on experiential learning is a thoughtful process where women participants usually learn through their intellect, their emotions and also build new skills. The organization is women-led and the lead trainers usually provide counseling and workshops to the women who are oppressed. During these workshops, the women share their experiences of structural violence, social roles and how these have led to the transformation and commitment towards social change. The focus on activism also provides a supportive environment to the women groups and comfortable environment while training. In other words, the organization led by empowered women is working towards empowering other women at all level in the country and neighboring countries.