May's Unstoppable Women for a World Without Violence gathering may have been moderate in size, however in terms of the experience, wisdom and issues represented by the the 23 women present, it was HUGE.
This was so much bigger than our time-slot or agenda could possibly do justice to, and so rich in perspectives and intersections that we - well, okay, I - abandoned the planned agenda and instead allowed the discussion to flex as required.
At the vortex of conversations about war, peace and violence
Internationally, our hearts and vision connected with the centennial of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the international gathering of over 1000 women for the Women's Power to Stop War Conference, held in The Hague.
And back in Australia once again, May was the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Certainly there is no shortage of data to highlight the growing crisis for women in this country, nor the connections between war, gender inequity and violence against women.
Every participant that evening brought a unique, personal experience of the violence-to-peace continuum, and in some cases a little-considered take on the matter. Truly, you'd need to be there to gauge the magnitude, however a few notes taken from the discussion will give an idea.
Whiteboard notes: mapping the terrain
In terms of the bigger picture of time, our event recorded some key messages from the threads and conversations.
Examples of lived experience
The experiences of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant speakers of English
Fiona (R: right) is a languages teacher who spoke of the intersection of deep levels of previous trauma with teaching and learning of a new language for refugees.
Elina, from Finland, spoke of the enculturated disrespect by resident Australians towards the English spoken by migrant speakers. Suhaila and others spoke of the need to offer community integration support to refugees over many years.
Gender equality and the construction of masculinities
Maria reminded us all of the critical role of gender and the basic requirement for equity. Kat spoke both about issues relating to the practice of surrogacy; and the need to rewrite prostitution laws to target the buyers of sex rather than the providers. Alanah spoke powerfully about the role of DVConnect and the Shimmy Mob.
It was quickly clear that domestic violence had been the experience for many women in the room. We wouldn't have known had we not been having a conversation exactly on that topic.
Peace begins at home
From practising nonviolence in our diet by eating without killing, and ensuring that our animals and pets are treated fairly, through to and others and teaching philosophy for children in our schools and homes, there are a myriad of ways we can each make a difference towards peace.
Connecting with the global Women's Power to Stop War conference
A highlight of the evening was beaming in Brisbane woman Kerry McGovern who was attending the international WILPF meeting for a first hand report on global thinking and the actions needed to end war. More on this in future blog posts, following the Australian conference on this same theme in late May.
Thoughts for daily practice ...