Institute Mosintuwu (IM)
In the Sulawesi province of Indonesia, violence has erupted as a result of escalating religious tensions in the region. In late 2011, two churches were burned to the ground, and a suicide bombing occurred on the island of Java. Fearing a backslide into violence, Institute Mosintuwu (IM) recognized the importance of keeping its Women’s School up and running in the Poso district, as its curriculum offers education to youth on the local conflict and recognition of their human rights, and promotes community involvement and advocacy for harmonious relations between Muslims and Christians. The students of the school, in turn, take the knowledge and lessons learned back to their families and villages. In response to the imminent conflict in Poso, IM requested funds to ensure that its Women’s School can continue to operate. IM also plans to organize a seminar to found an interfaith organization for one hundred women from fourteen villages to come together and address the escalating violence. After the founding, women can implement grassroots peace plans in their own communities.
IM is a grassroots movement in the post-conflict district of Poso, and its vision is to secure peace and sovereignty for the people by advocating for social, economic, political, cultural and civil rights and developing the discourse of civil sovereignty.
Funds were used both for the School of Women for Peace and Justice, and Women’s Movement Seminars. Through its curriculum on civic engagement, rights, and economic management, the School of Women “has managed to build trust, break down suspicion and resentment, and create a good relationship between the female members of the religions of Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism, and various ethnic groups.” Women participants gain knowledge and skills and then go on to participate actively in their communities, campaigning for peace and prevention of conflicts. For example, when a recent killing occurred, some participants of the School of Women in the community were able to work out the issues using diplomacy and their mobile phones, preventing the situation from sparking new riots in the areas of Poso and Tentena. Graduates of the School often come to be known in their villages as active participants in the peace and justice process. IM notes that in the patriarchal context in which they work, women’s opinions are often not acknowledged, so the fact that graduates of the School are recognized by the village, district, and county government as leaders in their community is significant.
Through the Women’s Movement Seminars, participants agreed to build an Interfaith Women’s Organization, composed of many graduates of the School of Women to continue to implement the peace-building and community-building skills they have learned.