Jessica explains the importance of peacebuilding & bringing people & communities together
“Speaking from personal experience, lack of confidence seems to be an obstacle for many women. I’m still working on building mine but have seen that taking a few risks can bring huge benefits.”
I’m originally from Sweden but have lived in Northern Ireland for more than 14 years. I consider myself lucky to call both places ‘home’. I’ve always been interested in peacebuilding and improving relationships between people. Following studies in Sweden, I secured an internship at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at the University of Ulster.
What better place to explore these issues than in a society where peacebuilding is still actively happening? I decided to stay in Northern Ireland, joining local organisation Intercomm. Later, I began working with the Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium (BCRC) and Falls Community Council.
I’m particularly proud of my contribution to the production and delivery of the BCRC Anti-Sectarianism Toolkit and Training Programme which we rolled out across Belfast and beyond, mainly in interface communities. While working there, I completed a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, looking at the potential link between peace and religion, specifically faith-based peacebuilding organisations in Northern Ireland. I was humbled by the positive response from the respondents and their commitment to peace.
After almost ten years with BCRC, it was time to explore another aspect of peacebuilding – the link between education and peace. I now work as Community Outreach Officer with the Integrated Education Fund, focussing on putting integrated education on the good relations agenda (www.integratemyschool.com).
The Next Chapter initiative gives women a chance to build their confidence to get involved in society and politics – with a small ‘p’ as well as a big ‘P’. In particular, networking with and encouraging other women is important. Speaking from personal experience, lack of confidence seems to be an obstacle for many women. I’m still working on building mine but have seen that taking a few risks can bring huge benefits.
Thanks to Jessica for writing this article.
Be the Change You Want to See Community Project