In Focus: Jasmin Nario-Galace



GAAV recently caught up with Jasmin Nario-Galace, Centre for Peace Education/We ACT 1325, the Philippines, to learn more about her work to reduce armed violence and promote peace.  

1.    Describe your work
I am the Executive Director of the Centre for Peace Education, Miriam College, the Philippines, and Professor at the Department of International Studies of the same College. I am the National Coordinator of the Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325) which has 39 member organizations nationwide. I am also President of Pax Christi-Philippines.

 2.    What does the Centre for Peace Education (CPE) do?
The Center for Peace Education’s mission is to help build a culture of peace through education and advocacy. It believes that to reach peace, we must teach peace. Hence, it conducts trainings and workshops on peace education to various sectors including teachers, students, members of grassroots communities, government officials and the security sector. It provides spaces for young people of different religions and ethnicities to come together with the aim of building bridges of friendship and understanding. CPE carries out leading campaigners in the Philippines on arms control and disarmament and is, hence, active in the campaign for the adoption of a nuclear ban treaty (as member of ICAN), ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (as member of the Control Arms Coalition); small arms control (as member of IANSA) and the ban on cluster munitions and landmines as members of the PCCM and PCBL. CPE is active in supporting the peace processes in the Philippines, particularly the peace process in Mindanao. It is very active in helping implement the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It lobbies for engendered peace agreements and other policies. It supports victims of war. It helps capacitate women on peace skills to help resolve conflicts and prevent violence.

3.    What other entities are coordinated via CPE?
Via CPE I coordinate Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325), a national coalition advancing implementation of the Philippine National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security. I am also Steering Committee member of the Global Network of Women Peace builders (GNWP). I am President of Pax Christi-Pilipinas (PCP) whose members include the religious as well as lay advocates of peace. PCP’s focus is Catholic peacebuilding. CPE is also Chair of the Justice and Peace Education Committee of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines. It leads both the Peace Education Network (PEN) as well as the Philippine Council for Peace and Global Education (PCPGE). PEN is a network of organizations doing peace education in both formal and informal settings. PCPGE is a network of faculty and administrators educating for peace.

4.    What do you feel are top priorities to tackle armed violence in your country?
The priority is to end ongoing armed conflicts so support for the ongoing peace process in Mindanao is important. Peace education is also important as an accompanying process. A peace agreement forged by members of peace panels should be understood and embraced by people. Peace education can help do just that as it aims to transform mindsets supportive of war or mindsets that are intolerant of diversity. Peace education is informed by peace research and encourages peace action. Thus, increasing available data on all forms of armed violence to inform evidence based responses is important.

5.    What motivates you to do the work you do?
I have been exposed to different situations of marginalization and forms of violence. As a young girl (a transferee to a new school in the city from a school in the rural area), I was a victim of bullying which hurt me to the core. I was a student leader –activist during the last years of the repressive Marcos’ regime and, hence, had benefited from the many teach-in sessions against the dictatorship. I was also Coordinator of the Office for Social Concerns of Maryknoll College for many years which allowed me to integrate with grassroots communities: peasants, fisher-folk indigenous peoples; political prisoners, labourers and gain an experiential understanding of their economic situation. My Maryknoll education also helped me develop compassion for the marginalized and encouraged me to act against injustice.  

6.    What has been the greatest achievements for CPE?
It helped, through PEN, in the adoption of policies such as EO570 which is an administrative order to integrate peace education in basic education and teacher education curricula as well as EO 576 which is the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It also helped actively in the lobbying for an Arms Trade Treaty specifically its provision on gender. CPE has also inspired the establishment of peace centers in various schools nationwide as well as the integration of peace education in other schools’ teaching-learning processes. It has also inspired graduates of Miriam College to go into peace, human rights or women, peace and security work. Our work has inspired young people to join workers in the vineyard for peace! We have also led initiatives at people-to-people peace process through our Twinning Project aimed at building bridges of friendship and understanding between people of different cultures, religion and ethnicity.

7.    As a member of the Global Alliance on Armed Violence (GAAV) what types of activities have you understand?
I have engaged in numerous GAAV activities across different areas of work:

  • In 2014 I served as a resource provider to share experience from the Philippines on implementing policy on arms controls and the Women, Peace & Security agenda with Guatemalan stakeholders.
  • I was also the national focal point for civil society for the Asia Pacific Regional Review Conference of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence working with GAAV as the global civil society coordinator.
  • After this conference GAAV and CPE co-hosted a multi-stakeholder national dialogue on developing a report on armed violence and security in the Philippines. This group of actors convened at this meeting have gone onto develop a consortium which includes government ministries, academic institutions, civil society and international partners for the purpose of sharing, consolidating and standardising data to generate a report which combines all available evidence bases.
  • Recently I also co-hosted a side event with GAAV and IANSA during the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York. I also contributed to the Gender and Armed Violence working group paper on Implementing the Women, Peace & Security agenda and Reducing Armed Violence.

8.    Any upcoming activities?
In May, via it’s expert group on armed violence and security reports, GAAV will carry out a training to support the national process of developing a report on violence and insecurity.

9.    From who have you learnt the greatest lessons in life?
For life experience, from my Catholic education that inspired me to embrace diversity and work against marginalization and violence. For work experience, I have been inspired by the lives of champions of nonviolence such as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and mentors in peace education such as Loreta Castro, Toh Swee-hin, Virginia Cawagas and Betty Reardon. I take life lessons from my father who modelled to me to be compassionate and service to the poor (He gave free legal service to farmers and other rural poor). My mother modelled generosity to me. I grew up giving away food and gifts on a very regular basis to our neighbours compliments of my mother.

10. Your message for GAAV members
There is much to do in relation to curbing armed violence. Each one of us can take a pathway to get to peace. We can be educators for peace. We can be disarmament campaigners. We can do direct service to victims. We can help mediate or resolve conflicts in communities. We can be trainers on conflict prevention, conflict resolution and mediation. Or we can support peace processes to help end wars. Choose your pathway. There are lives to save.