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Organization: WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace)
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Postal address of organization/institution

Core 4A, Upper Ground Floor, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003 - INDIA

E-mail address of organization/institution


Website address of organization/institution


Telephone of organization/institution

91-11-24648450, 91-11-24651606
Fax: 91-11-24648451

PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

WISCOMP collaborates regularly with other South Asian and international peacebuilding initiatives on a range of mutually beneficial projects. Some of our partners include:

Centre for Social Research (CSR)
The Centre for Social Research is one of the leading women’s institutions working in the field of social action since 1983 in India. CSR aims to empower women and provide them with the resources to be self-reliant individuals. Resource persons from the Gender Training Institute of CSR have conducted workshops for WISCOMP on gender training at the Panchayat level in India. They have shared their expertise on imparting political education, to women and men, which is a prerequisite for the strengthening of local governance structures.

Danish Centre for Conflict Resolution
WISCOMP has worked with trainers from the Danish Center for Conflict Resolution, Copenhagen, as part of its efforts to impart skills in nonviolent communication, active listening, dialogue and negotiation. In 2003, Bjarne Vestergaard and Sidsel Kragh from DCCR were invited as resource persons for the Second Annual Conflict Transformation Workshop where they conducted training sessions in dialogue, nonviolence and active negotiation. DCCR specializes in a range of culture-specific mediation, facilitation, dialogue and negotiation techniques, and recently helped to establish the Tibetan Center for Conflict Resolution in Dharamsala.

Henry Martyn Institute
WISCOMP has collaborated with practitioners from the Henry Martyn Institute in Hyderabad, India, on workshops that address the interface between religion, violence and peace. The Henry Martyn Institute is an international center for research, interfaith relations and reconciliation. Since its founding in 1930, HMI has established a long record of teaching and research. It’s emphasis is on study and action at various levels in order to reduce prejudice, resolve conflict and increase trust, co-operation and understanding between individuals and groups.

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
WISCOMP, in collaboration with IDEA, has embarked on a research-praxis initiative titled South Asian Experiences in Reconciliation after Violent Conflict. The purpose behind this collaboration is to engage with varied perspectives on the question of reconciliation and justice in post-conflict situations. Based in Sweden, IDEA has conducted extensive work in the area of reconciliation and dialogue in regions of protracted conflict.

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
MKSS is a grassroots organization that was formed in 1990. It pioneered the Right to Information movement in India and is among the best examples in the world of a grassroots movement that has been successful in demanding increased transparency and accountability in government. Its objective is to use modes of struggle and constructive action for changing the lives of its primary constituents — the rural poor. Aruna Roy, a founding member of the MKSS, is on the WISCOMP Advisory Board, and has conducted workshops on the Right to Information for various WISCOMP projects.

Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN)
PRADAN is a voluntary organization, which works in select villages in 26 districts across seven states in India. The focus of its work is to strengthen livelihoods for the rural poor. This involves organizing them, enhancing their capabilities, introducing ways to improve their incomes and linking them to banks, markets and other economic services. PRADAN has facilitated trainings for WISCOMP (in Jammu and Kashmir) on the procedures and benefits of thrift groups, based on the principles of micro-credit and micro-finance. This has provided the necessary impetus for the local animators who work with WISCOMP to organize themselves as self-help groups.

Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS)
RCSS is a premier South Asian networking institution, interacting with leading think tanks, resource persons, and young scholars in South Asia and outside the region. Based in Colombo, it encourages research, dialogue and deliberation on contemporary international affairs on a broad spectrum of conventional and non-conventional sources of conflict with an educational and problem-solving perspective. WISCOMP has been engaged with the programs of RCSS on a sustained basis and has provided expertise on gender and non-traditional security to the organization.

Search for Common Ground (SFCG)
WISCOMP has worked collaboratively with Search for Common Ground, Washington DC. Susan Collin Marks, (Former Vice President, SFCG) was invited as the Keynote speaker for the WISCOMP Symposium on Conflict Resolution: Trends and Prospects in 2001. In March 2002, WISCOMP and SFCG held a collaborative screening of the film Titanic Town. Following the screening, Susan Koscis, (Vice President of Arts and Culture, SFCG) moderated a discussion on "Women Waging Peace".

The Coexistence Initiative
WISCOMP collaborated with The Coexistence Initiative, New York, to present the Common Ground Film Festival, which showcased several award-winning documentary films. The objective of this partnership was to create a forum for a public audience to watch films on peace and security, and to discuss the important role that films can play in transforming conflict. The Coexistence Initiative (TCI) is an international organization that seeks to catalyze a global awareness of, and commitment to, creating a world safe for difference. TCI attempts to enhance the impact of the work undertaken by individuals and organizations pursuing coexistence, tolerance, and peace.  

Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA)
Over the last five years, WISCOMP has been an active partner of the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia. It participated in the WIPSA-led women’s peace delegation to Pakistan in March 2000 (under the leadership of peace activist and former parliamentarian Nirmala Deshpande). A Delhi-based organization with chapters in different parts of South Asia, WIPSA works to build people-to-people contact in the region.

Women Peacemakers Program
The Women Peacemakers Program, an initiative of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, was set up in 1997 in The Netherlands. It works to support and strengthen women’s peacemaking initiatives around the world. The Women Peacemakers Program has provided valuable resources for some of our projects, and has also given financial support to WISCOMP to bring together women from regions of armed conflict in South Asia for dialogues in peacebuilding.

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.


In keeping with the spirit of universal responsibility and its role in facilitating active coexistence, WISCOMP runs a Conflict Transformation Program that builds a crucial interface between issues relating to conflict, security, nonviolence and peacebuilding. As part of this Program, practitioners and scholars engage extensively to build a synergy between the theory and praxis of conflict transformation in South Asia. Training workshops are conducted for universities, NGOs and think tanks. As part of this Program seven Annual Conflict Transformation workshops have also been organized since 2001 that have brought together Indians and Pakistanis as well as other South Asians to dialogue on issues of common concern. The Conflict Transformation Program seeks to:

• Empower a new generation of women and men, in South Asia, with the motivation, skills, and expertise to engage in processes of nonviolent change in different conflict settings. These include conflicts ranging from the intra-personal and inter-personal to those at the community, intra-national and international level.

Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath, Honorary Director, WISCOMP

• Introduce Conflict Transformation as a field of study in South Asia.

• Foreground the lens of gender in the analysis of conflict and in the conceptualization of peace initiatives.

• Provide a reflexive curriculum for peace that evolves in response to changing regional and international landscapes. This is done through knowledge sharing, theory-building, skill enhancement and critical reflection on contemporary thinking and practices in conflict analysis, mediation, multi-track diplomacy, reconciliation, justice and post-conflict peacebuilding.

• Build partnerships, mentoring relationships and a network of peace practitioners and theoreticians who can contribute to peacebuilding initiatives in South Asia and the world.

The first Workshop, titled Rehumanizing The Other, brought together graduate and undergraduate students from universities in Pakistan and India. In addition to Kinnaird College for Women and Lady Shri Ram College, some of the institutions that were represented at the Workshop were: Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (Karachi), Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lahore), University of Peshawar (Peshawar), University of Delhi (Delhi), Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai) and St. Xaviers’ College (Mumbai). For most participants, this was their first opportunity to meet a college student from “the other” country. This led many participants to observe that “the enemy now has a face…the other has been humanized…and through this process, the self has been transformed”.
The initial goal of the workshop was not to arrive at agreements on the issues that divide us, but to change the way we saw each other and interact with one another. The idea was not to negotiate on the interests and positions that India and Pakistan have held onto for the last several years, but to build “social capital” to enhance the capacity of young people to solve problems and to dialogue on difficult subjects. Social capital refers to the networks of relationships among persons, firms, and institutions in a society, together with associated norms of behavior, trust, cooperation, etc., that enable a society to function effectively. Relationships are a form of social capital. When people connect and form relationships, they are more likely to cooperate together to constructively address conflict.
Since 2001, the Workshops have consistently focused on developing new models of leadership for young Pakistanis and Indians who will be in positions of political and economic decision-making 15 to 20 years from today. This sentiment was in fact reflected in a question that Prerona Prasad, an Indian participant from the 2001 Workshop, put to President Pervez Musharraf on a visit to Pakistan: “Why does our generation have to carry the baggage of your past?” She was echoing the desire of a growing number of young people in the two countries to have a different kind of future – a future based on trust, respect and cooperation. Khadija Amjad, a Pakistani participant from the first workshop in 2001 sent WISCOMP the following feedback: “My perceptions about the other have turned on their head. Several threat perceptions faded…I realized that all Indians are not anti-Pakistan.”
The second Workshop, held in 2003, broadened the profile of participants to include researchers, journalists, grassroots’ practitioners and educators from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tibet and India. Titled Transcending Conflict, it focused on the peace process in Sri Lanka and the efforts for long-term social change in the war-ravaged island nation. The goal was to learn from the experiments in justice and reconciliation that were being undertaken in Sri Lanka. Post-conflict countries such as South Africa and Rwanda were also analyzed to draw insights on the complex goal of reconciliation.
Titled Dialogic Engagement, the third Workshop sought to promote wider civil society ownership of the peace process between Pakistan and India. The focus of the Workshop was the role of the media (print, television, music, art and cinema) in conflict generation and conflict transformation. For the first time, a module titled Kashmir: The Way Forward was factored into the workshop curriculum. It broke new ground on approaches for the transformation of the Kashmir conflict and provided a context to study and critique diverse international peace accords and lessons for India and Pakistan.
Envisioning Futures: Dialogue and Conflict Transformation, the title of the fourth Workshop (held in 2005), sought to shift the focus to leadership models and methodologies for sustained dialogue. Seeking to build leadership among multiple stakeholders, the workshop explored new models of leadership that the framework of Conflict Transformation offers. Leaders can play an important role in situations of conflict by reducing fear and suspicion, and shifting public consciousness from vulnerability and psychosis to mutual strength and respect.
The fifth Workshop, titled Collaborative Explorations and held in 2006, was informed by the framework of multi-track diplomacy. The engagement moved beyond an understanding of the role of various tracks, and delved into the constraints that different tracks work with, and the points at which they intersect. The Workshop also addressed the Kashmir conflict, using multiple formats such as a quiz, group discussions, participant presentations, film screenings and exhibits. While the quiz on Jammu and Kashmir sought to facilitate an appreciation of the multicultural ethos of Jammu and Kashmir, the medium of documentary film was used to capture the contemporary realities in Jammu and Kashmir following the outbreak of the armed conflict. Expert panels, participant presentations and group discussions facilitated engagement on the conceptual vocabulary of security, peacebuilding and futures studies in the context of Jammu and Kashmir.  

The sixth Workshop titled Coexistence and Trust-building: Transforming Relationships, was unique in terms of the diversity in the regions that the participants came from. For the first time, regions (in Pakistan) such as Hyderabad (Sindh), Quetta (Balochistan), Multan, Gujranwala and Muzaffarabad were represented. The workshop focused centrally on the growing culture of fear and mistrust between India and Pakistan and sought to address it through Collaborative joint projects around issues that might be seen as “connectors” between the two countries.
The Seventh workshop in the series was held in 2009. Titled Seeking Peace in Changing Worlds: Conflict Transformation and the New Geopolitics of Power, the Workshop addressed the issue of otherization by exploring peacebuilding approaches that could reverse this trend that has assumed dangerous proportions in South Asia. It also addressed the issues of territoriality and identity in the context of growing violence and terror, both of state and non-state actors.  

While the goals each year have been different the theme of “prejudice reduction” has found resonance in all of WISCOMP’s India-Pakistan workshops. As a participant from the first Workshop in 2001 had articulated, “Prejudice hardens us, and the more we harden, the less accepting we become of people different from us. This increases our tendency to believe that there is only one truth.” Another important theme of this program has been to encourage participants to pursue education in the field of peacebuilding. Many alumni have pursued higher education in peacebuilding and chosen careers in this field. Third, all workshops have been located at the intersection of theory and praxis and have emphasized an inter-disciplinary approach to peacebuilding. The diversity in the participants’ professional backgrounds has further facilitated this process. Over the years, the workshops have built a synergy between the goals of prejudice reduction, relationship building, and peace education.
The WISCOMP Conflict Transformation Workshops have sought to bring about change at multiple levels:

• Personal change: Change begins with the self. The assumption is that we cannot contribute to peacebuilding if we ourselves hold negative prejudices about “the other”. Mahatma Gandhi’s words – “Be the change you want to see in the world” – are a guiding compass for the WISCOMP initiative with the CT workshops focusing on generating new attitudes, behaviors and knowledge among the Indian and Pakistani participants.

• Relational change: At this level, WISCOMP’s focus has been on developing new and improved relationships between the next generation of leaders in India and Pakistan.

• Cultural change: A key emphasis has also been on promoting cultural values that support nonviolence, positive peace, mutual respect and coexistence.

• Structural change: WISCOMP believes that personal and social change processes are tied to building new models of leadership for the next generation of peacebuilders in the two countries.
CT Workshops over the last few years have generated an Annual Collaborative Research Award which supports joint research by an Indian and a Pakistani alumna. The Research Award provides a context for young people in the two countries to dialogue on a sustained basis and to link their academic research with the experience of working collaboratively.


As part of its efforts to build constituencies of peace in contexts of violent conflict, WISCOMP supports initiatives in regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, and the Northeast. WISCOMP has been facilitating similar initiatives between students, peace activists, educationists and journalists from different regions in South Asia such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. These initiatives for peace seek to:

• Initiate collaborative relationships between policymakers, grassroots’ workers, the media, NGOs and educationists so that the voices of a range of stakeholders, particularly women, can be mainstreamed in social change processes.

• Empower women and men from regions of protracted conflict with the skills and expertise to engage in processes of conflict transformation in their local communities and regions as well as in official peace negotiations.
• Transcend geographical boundaries and the conventional hierarchies of age, gender, class and social status to learn from the perspectives and experiences of people in conflict negotiation and peacebuilding.

WISCOMP’s initiative in Jammu and Kashmir called Athwaas. Athwaas which means ‘a warm greeting or shake of the hand’ in Kashmiri, comprises a group of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh Kashmiri women who nourish peace constituencies and who explore possibilities for a just peace through a range of activities including active listening, trauma counseling, conflict transformation workshops, articulation of the concerns of women to policymakers and government interlocutors and initiation of programs that facilitate economic empowerment.

WISCOMP’s Kashmir initiative has opened up an invigorating process that has enabled its members to negotiate the difficult journey to re-humanization and understanding. Conscious of the empowering potential of “listening/peacemaking circles”, WISCOMP used this methodology to encourage active listening and to facilitate an acceptance of the existence of multiple truths and realities in Kashmir. An important area of shared intervention identified by the Kashmiri women relates to the need to work with young men and women so as to dissuade them from “picking up the gun” since a whole generation had been raised in an environment vitiated by conflict, it had become easy to draw them into violence. In addition WISCOMP has also enaged with the media  

The WISCOMP Peace Journalism Workshop Series
WISCOMP looks to involving media students and young journalists to be animators in building linkages between media and peacebuilding, especially in conflict-torn regions like Jammu and Kashmir. The WISCOMP Peace Journalism workshop series has, since 2007, sought to create an open space to interrogate and assess the principles of peace journalism and what it could offer to the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Three workshops have been organized as part of this initiative.  


Recognizing the power of education as a tool for building sustainable peace across socio-political divides, WISCOMP through its various programs, experiments with diverse methodologies to explore the changing vocabularies and stimulate holistic learning within and outside educational institutions.  

Its initiative on Education for Peace is designed to further its commitment to foster a culture of peace and initiate measures that will fashion non-violent responses to the multitude of conflict in the South Asian region. Activities under this program have involved teacher trainers, teachers and students in this process of transformation through modules on ‘education for peace’ and ‘diversity and difference’. Curriculum development forms another important facet of our engagement in this area.
WISCOMP seeks to accomplish this through the following approaches:  

• Teach nonviolent communication skills;

• Facilitate experiential learning from self and others;

• Introduce theoretical knowledge from the evolving discipline of peace and conflict studies;

• Promote values such as human dignity, human rights, compassion, empathy and partnership;

• Motivate individuals to make lifelong commitment to peacebuilding at multiple levels – within the home, in their communities and in society.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

All efforts are drop in the ocean and yes we have seen how people are postively touched by thr programs we have organised. Having said this we also believe that a lot more can be done and needs to be done in this field. The notion of culture of peace still remains to become a part of the lay persons vocabulary or even a widely adopted lens by universitites, schools and education institution. We hope that as the movement gains currency this will follow.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

WISCOMP’s initiative in Kashmir –Athwaas, the center of our Peacebuilding project, has in the last seven years forged bonds among diverse groups and has also registered its presence as an effective voice in civil society. However, the failure to institutionalize dialogue, has limited the impact of this initiative, especially in promoting dialogue in the larger community during heightened polarization, as was seen during the Amarnath Land Controversy.

While our peace education initiative has received over-whelming response and we have been requested by several organizations and institutions to organize workshops and trainings for them, in highly polarized settings the response to such initiatives has been lukewarm. In such settings finding likeminded partners is one of the biggest hurdles.  

For out Annual Conflict transformation workshops the foremost challenge has been to overcoming the stiff visa regimes in the region. While participants across the region are eager to attend our workshops and explore the possibility of peace, the process of procuring visas that can enable interactions across divides has been very difficult.

One of our core project is the Scholar of Peace Fellowship project, which has enabled us to fund research initiatives of young and mid career South Asian professionals in the areas of security and peacebuilding. However, dissemination of WISCOMP’s work across South Asia continues to remain a challenge as costs are not competitive in comparison to large publishing houses which enjoy economies of scale and also have huge marketing networks.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

As WISCOMP enters the eleventh year we are thinking of accepting some change in the projects. While the overall mandate of WISCOMP – of promoting gender sensitive discourses and praxis on security, conflict resolution and peace building - remains as relevant today as it was a decade ago we are in the process of re-examining our core projects and giving them a new direction.

As part of research and advocacy we would like to deepen our engagement with the following constituencies in the new phase of our development.
• Senior professionals working in the area of International Relations and Conflict analysis
• Policy makers
• WISCOMP alumni
• Collaborations with international organizations
We envisage partnerships with peacebuilding organizations and peace departments within universities in the South Asian region to expand our work in the area of Education for peace. In addition, we will continue to organize short workshops for high school students around issues of multiculturalism, celebrating diversity and fostering tolerance to expand the constituencies for peace.

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

The global movemnt can be stregthen by:
• Enhance the role of women as peacebuilders, negotiators and as agents for nonviolent social change.
• Contribute to an inclusive, people-oriented discourse on issues of security, which respects diversity and which foregrounds the perspectives of women and the hitherto marginalized.
• Facilitate theory-building and innovative research on holistic paradigms that address the resolution and transformation of intra- and inter-state conflicts.
• Empower a new generation of women and men with the expertise and skills to engage in peace activism through educational and training programs in conflict transformation.
• Build synergy at various levels – between theory, practice and policy; between those working in academia, in the formal structures of foreign policy and diplomacy and those engaged in grassroots’ peacebuilding.
• Build constituencies of peace through research, action and mentor programs that focus on areas such as multi-track diplomacy, peace advocacy, active coexistence and cross-border networks.
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Organization: WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace)

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