In Mexico there is great promise for a more peaceful future, and these 150 young peacebuilders could be the ones to lead the way.
Following the most violent year on record in Mexico, the second national Positive Peace workshop united 150 young peacebuilders in Hidalgo.
The aim of the program was to provide both a deep knowledge of peace cycles as well as the skills required to make change within the local system to create and sustain systemic peacefulness.
Many participants highlighted their acute awareness for daily acts of normalised violence.
While the headline figures about organised crime and trafficking may seem intangible to grassroots peacebuilders, shifting consciousness to micro-violence observed daily offers a new framework for action.
“What impacted me the most was the hard evidence presented and the presentations that explored violence in many spheres, where sometimes it is invisible,” said one participant in the in the workshop’s evaluation survey conducted by True Roots International.
“It made me change my perspective and be more aware of normalised behaviours that we have as a culture.”
The workshop encouraged participants to look at interpersonal peacebuilding as well as big picture goals.
After the first Positive Peace Encounter in Mexico, returning participant Yesenia Uribe was equipped to action small environmental changes in her community to promote peacefulness.
Ms Uribe went on to paint murals reflecting peaceful ideals to “open minds, develop resiliency, and to promote leadership.”
“Before the workshops, I had the idea that it was very hard as individuals to help and collaborate in the construction of peace,” said Uribe.
“Ever since, I have realised all the tools and opportunities that we have to build peace in our communities.”
The majority of participants were aged 22-29 and brought a diversity of expertise to the workshop, including conflict resolution, education and economic empowerment.
Prior to the workshop, 58 per cent of participants had not received formal training related to the themes of peace or peacebuilding before.
Upon the completion of the workshop, 98 per cent of participants felt they had a solid foundational understanding of the pillars of Positive Peace.
Ninety-seven per cent reported feeling equipped to explain what they learnt to others, according to the preliminary evaluation report conducted by True Roots International.
The ability to relay the Positive Peace framework is important to implementation as peacebuilding alliances cooperate on the same goals.
The opportunity to strengthen alliances and forge networks with fellow peace practitioners has been highlighted as one of the most valuable takeaways the program offers.
Sixty per cent of participants were members of Rotaract, 32 per cent were members of civil society organisations, 27 per cent were university students, and 19 per cent were involved in social impact projects.
“What impacted me the most was the group of young people with diverse identities in terms of personal histories, places of origin, and accents, as well as diversity in their projects that covered different sectors. Across this diversity, there was a common interest in improving conditions.” – Workshop participant
Ninety-six per cent of participants felt that they made valuable connections thanks to their participation and 87 per cent of participants reported a commitment to connect with peers from their region to maintain future communication.
The vast majority (94 per cent) of participants learned of new organisations in their line of work at the event, and almost as many plan to collaborate with those new organisations.
Vision of Humanity will report on the initiatives and successes of the workshop’s participants as they go on to build peace in their communities with the guidance of the Positive Peace framework.
Mexico is ranked 140 out of 163 countries in the latest Global Peace Index (GPI), making it the least peaceful country in the Central American and Caribbean region.
Despite the 2019 Mexico Peace Index revealing the highest homicide rate on record and a $268 billion cost of violence, a firm foundation of Positive Peace has been established in Mexico, which provides a hopeful path forward.
In 2017, IEP’s Positive Peace Index (PPI) showed that Mexico ranked 59 out of 163 countries, with an overall score better than both the global and the Central America and Caribbean regional averages.
When a country ranks higher in the PPI than in the GPI, it is said to have a “Positive Peace surplus”, indicating that Mexico has the potential to improve its levels of peacefulness.
Mexico has the second highest potential for improvement in peace in the world.
The program is supported by the American Rotary Club of Chattanoonga Hamilton Place District 6780 and local Mexican Rotary District 4170. The preliminary evaluation cited in this article was produced by Nicola Coakley and Summer Lewis from True Roots International.