Identity violence and hate speech are on the rise in South and Southeast Asia. Yet actors working to address these issues often do so in isolation and/or lack support to amplify their impact. Networks for Peace uses its regional convening power to collectively engage and support civil society organizations and key influencers in promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence, mitigating the growing polarization of ethnic and religious identities in the region.
Working with partners in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and with the Central Tibetan Administration, Networks for Peace promotes intra- and interfaith harmony and social cohesion through grants, building capacity building, research and regional knowledge sharing.
STRENGTHENING REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NETWORKS
Networks for Peace’s regional approach focuses on building organizational capacity while providing networking opportunities to a wide range of civil society organizations and key influencers, including women, youth, religious actors, faith-based organizations and the private sector. Networks for Peace activities focus on: (i) promoting intra- and inter-faith harmony; (2) countering dangerous narratives and amplifying positive narratives of peace and inclusiveness; and (3) the promotion of young regional champions to foster greater understanding and tolerance between different ethnic and religious communities. Additionally, Networks for Peace programming incorporates key elements of USAID’s Women, Peace, and Security strategy that empowers women and marginalized groups through inclusion and meaningful participation in activities.
EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING
Networks for Peace expands civil society organizations’ access to evidence-based research, knowledge, tools, and resources to better understand religious nationalism and promote religious tolerance in South and Southeast Asia. By improving partner access to learning resources, Networks for Peace enables regional partners and stakeholders to design and implement more strategic interventions that improve the effectiveness of their advocacy and peacebuilding efforts. .
Networks for Peace held consultations with over 200 key organizations and influencers across Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetans in exile in India to better understand the context related to ethnic and religious conflicts in each country and explore avenues to effectively promote peace and inclusiveness.
Networks for Peace regional exchanges provided essential forums for 208 civil society representatives and key influencers (60% women) to share their experiences and best practices across multiple countries on issues such as interfaith and intrafaith dialogue, the role of women and youth in peacebuilding and problem solving. online misinformation and dangerous speech.
Since 2020, Networks for Peace has trained 146 people (64% women) to advance gender equality or women’s empowerment through their roles in public or private sector institutions or organizations. Since then, 211 local women have participated substantively in regional and national Networks for Peace activities.
Networks for Peace uses a gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) lens to ensure that women and marginalized groups are empowered and meaningfully included in all aspects of its partner networks’ operations. With advice from Networks for Peace, a regional network was able to incorporate the GESI principles into the selection of participants for its project. This has led to a more inclusive and diverse group of regional peacebuilding participants, made up of Buddhist monks, female clergy and representatives of marginalized groups.
Networks for Peace regional events, workshops and grants have supported national and cross-border collaboration among organizations working to promote intra- and interfaith harmony and counter dangerous speech. For example, following their participation in a Networks for Peace activity, a technology company in Burma and a civil society organization in Sri Lanka have explored areas of collaboration and are now jointly implementing a project to adapt a existing dangerous speech monitoring platform. In Thailand, through their participation in Networks for Peace’s Partnership Building Exchanges, three Thai private technology companies and a local civil society organization are establishing a Dangerous Speech Mitigation and Monitoring Network to coordinate their respective activities.