Women from communities across Leeds have completed an accredited 10-week programme tackling a range of issues relating to radicalisation and conflict.
As part of the ‘Women for Peace’ project delivered by national charity ‘The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace’, women from a range of different cultures and backgrounds came together to share their thoughts and discuss topics relating to extremism, peace and conflict. Through the course, participants were taught techniques on how to hold a conversation on sensitive issues with colleagues, friends and family in a constructive manner and how the importance of critical thinking was vital in challenging traditional narratives and stereotypes. In completing the programme, those taking part will receive a Level 2 accreditation: ‘Understanding Conflict and Extremism: Building Peace’ Open Award.
‘Women for Peace’ forms part of a range of programmes and training by Leeds City Council’s Prevent team to tackle all forms of radicalisation and build resilience and understanding between people from all communities, cultures and backgrounds.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council executive member for communities said:
“Through the refresh of our approach to cohesion and Prevent which we carried out last year, we have been moving forward with a range of work to help break down barriers and misconceptions that can build up between communities and can sometimes make people more vulnerable to extremist messages.
“Courses such as this are an important strand of our Prevent programme. It was therefore extremely positive to see women of all backgrounds and cultures come together from communities across Leeds to discuss the issue of extremism and to learn new skills to help them challenge this type of behaviour.”
Louisa Rodriguez, Women for Peace Project Lead said:
“It has been inspiring to see a diverse group of women from all walks of life, come together to discuss challenging topics around extremism, conflict and peace. These women have developed their own network and now have skills which they can take back to their communities and families to promote peace and resolve conflicts.”
Those featuring on the course were also full of praise for the course.
One delegate praised the course stating: “I was privileged to be a part of this amazing group of women from different backgrounds, cultures and religions who told their stories, all varied and all very touching.”
Another participant said: “The structure of the course and the way it addressed topics such as extremism and conflict allowed for challenging issues to be openly explored. I am now much more aware of the ways in which radical beliefs can develop, and have a greater understanding of the importance of critical thinking. I learnt a great deal from the programme, and also from the diverse group of women who took part, due to the variety of experiences they spoke about.”
Leeds City Council’s Prevent programme: The council has a statutory duty to ensure they are paying due regard to the need to safeguard vulnerable individuals from extremism and build resilience towards radicalisation. Leeds’ approach to Prevent involves increasing the awareness and understanding of radicalisation, building resilience to extremist narratives, developing critical thinking skills, and providing safe spaces for holding difficult conversations.