What does peace mean for you, your community and your country?
Peace is when women feel safe. They’re free from any kind of violence. They can actually realise their rights and speak up whenever they want to speak up on any issues and take matters in their hands very safely and securely.
In what special ways do women bring peace to the world?
I think women are always the worse affected, along with children, in any kind of conflict situation, be it armed conflict, communal violence or any kind of riot situation. I think that they have a legitimate right to claim that the government acts to ensure their participation in the various processes of peacebuilding. And they bring a lot of peace also because they have intervened in various conflict situations. Women are at the forefront with their local activitism.
How do you maintain hope when there isn’t always peace around you?
It’s a very personal answer. I think there is enough good around. It’s not a very rosy picture, certainly, but what actually gives hope is the thin silver lining in the cloud that is still there.
What does your Caritas organisation concretely do to work for peace?
We have had some programmes, such as one where committees of men women and youths were empowered to be vigilant at the local level to diffuse the tensions. Similarly we have a programme on peacebuilding where the youth have been engaged in a big way – especially the school kids. That’s in Jammu and Kashmir and it sensitises kids to make them aware. That’s a cross-border peace programme.
What would you ask of world leaders to bring peace?
To create spaces and opportunities for women to come up in the political domain because there’s a lot of action that women have been leading at the forefront. You take any situation, be it a humanitarian crisis and we have seen the women leading the movements, so I think that kind of informal activism needs to get recognised and get into the formal domains where their opinions are accepted and they actually are participating in policy formulations and taking decisions on any matter that affects them.
Tell me about a woman who’s inspired you.
Mother Teresa and her life in many ways. I relate a lot to many of the things she has said. She was into her own form of activism when she was working for the down-trodden. I think she is one woman that I really relate to in many ways.
If you could ask people to do one gesture to work towards peace today, what would it be?