Kvinna till Kvinna: Reflecting on the recent workshop

Linköping University SI scholar Yvonne Oluoch shares what she learned from attending a workshop with Swedish women's rights organisation Kvinna till Kvinna.

Kvinna till Kvinna: Reflecting on the recent workshop
Photo: participants of the Kvinna till Kvinna workshop

I first heard of Kvinna till Kvinna back in 2014 when I attended a 10-day workshop in Berlin, Germany on gender and technology with a focus on online security.  Kvinna till Kvinna is a Swedish foundation promoting women’s rights in more than 20 war and conflict-affected countries.

Attending this workshop guided the next steps of my career as a digital security consultant on women's online security. Four years later as an SI scholar and master student, I visited the Kvinna till Kvinna headquarters in Stockholm for a one-day workshop on women, peace and security.

Photo: Yvonne Oluoch (centre) at the Kvinna till Kvinna workshop

The workshop presented an overview of the women, peace and security Resolution 1325 agenda at the UN Security Council from October 2000. For the first time in history, women's issues were included in the peace and security agenda; today, Kvinna till Kvinna works in 20 countries globally to ensure that women's rights are respected, and increase their participation and representation at all levels of decision making.

One quote which resonated with me is an excerpt from the day’s presentation: “Peace is not the absence of war. It is the presence of justice and the absence of fear,” as Dr Ursula Franklin once said.

I got a better understanding of what strides have taken place and still need to take place to achieve global equality.

The Resolution 1325 agenda covers four main areas:

– Participation involving both men and women in all peace and security decision-making levels

– Protection: ensure women feel safe in every environment

– Prevention to eradicate gender stereotypes, patriarchal powers and enforcing women's rights

– Relief and recovery help with psychological support and reintegration in case of security violations

With such concrete approaches to ensuring the peace and security of women, what is then hindering the progress of these resolutions today?

Some of the existing challenges that I was made aware of by the workshop were the impunity in many countries which hinders justice to crimes on women and the fact that men are still overrepresented – only 7.6 percent of women are negotiators while 97.6 percent of men are signatories which is a clear indicator of the snail-paced progress of women’s participation in peace and security discourse. And it is time to change that.



Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.