By Dr Scilla Elworthy
At the Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women organised by eShe magazine in January 2021, the concept emerged for a plan to utilise the change-driven energy generated by the female participants to employ their various skills and knowledge over a sustained period to lay the bases for a South Asia Union by 2025.
These women expressed their exhaustion over the societal tensions and the lost opportunities that the rivalries and disputes, particularly between Pakistan and India but also other countries in South Asia, had entailed.
During the Summit, it was agreed that the basic premise for this mission would be the fact that women and men who draw on YIN Intelligence have the values and vision necessary to build the bridges of understanding between the opposing sides of conflict, starting with India and Pakistan and extending to a South Asian Union in the future.
The Way Forward
The key stage of the plan is to find and address people with the skills and abilities necessary to change perspectives of the other, transform opposition, enable a wide constituency to engage and gather likeminded and like-skilled people who can play an active and integral part in the mission from the outset.
This is a vital step, since it is clear from previous experience that unless the right skills are applied to drive social change, it can fall victim to argument, dispute and sabotage.
So, the skills necessary are those that women and men have developed, particularly in the recent past, to address political change and to enable inspiration and gathering of people. They include skills such as listening, non-violent communication, dealing with anger, self-awareness, and taking a stand on the issues that matter to you without provoking more antagonism.
During the Summit, we were also influenced by the fact that many of the participants are experienced artists in theatre, music, videography and literature programmes for children. Even an artist’s residency in a palace was mentioned.
We know that the other skills needed are caring communications, to develop non-violent friendly human-centred ways of engaging large numbers of people with the vision. All these skills can be shared on social media and in online courses, such as the Mighty Heart.
The vision is to enable key leaders who possess these skills – from business, science, the arts, sport and popular culture – to be engaged in finding ways to transform opposition and develop solutions and a strategy for a political and economic union in South Asia.
There are four main challenges identified that this mission might encounter:
- Past history
- Deep injury, wounding and deaths on both sides
- Hatred being fostered and engendered by those who thrive on hate media
- Governments on both sides, who in some ways have vested interests in the antagonism. So it may even be necessary to engage with the military on both sides.
Lastly, it is important to highlight that we would use skills and knowledge gained from previous experience to ensure that the ‘Theory of Change’ utilised would be very clear.
Dr Scilla Elworthy is a peace builder, author and a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She is the founder of the Oxford Research Group, a non-governmental organisation she set up in 1982 to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics; and Peace Direct, a charity supporting local peace-builders in conflict areas. In 2003 she was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize. She is a member of the World Future Council, and co-founder of Rising Women Rising World, a community of women on all continents who take responsibility for building a world that works for all.