Speaking at the First Women’s Peace Table at the Marco Polo Hotel on Thursday, November 23, Grace Rebollos, a member of the Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA) said that by continuously building a “generation of mothers who build a culture of peace” the youth’s urge to join extremist groups due to radicalization would be prevented.
Rebollos cited the violence in Zamboanga last year and the recent five-month war in Marawi City where a number of young people were found to be members of extremist groups.
She said violent extremism and terrorism “have affected the youth a lot” with some, especially in the troubled areas of Mindanao “are easily recruited or radicalized by terrorist groups”.
Irene Santiago, convenor of the National Women’s Peace Table, also supported this view.
“It’s the mothers who know if their sons or daughters have been radicalized so there is a big role for women in preventing as well as countering violent extremism,” Santiago said, pointing out that the more she studied the roots of violent extremism, the more she saw the bigger role of women in peace building.
She explained that “the need for acceptance, identity, and significance are some of the factors that lead the youth in joining such groups, but with the guidance and influence of mothers, these could be averted”.
Rebollos believe that by keeping constant communication among various sectors such as through dialogues and peace tables, women belonging to every sector in the community will be able to voice out problems and come up with possible solutions.
“The peace tables must be activated at various levels with various sectors, and as these talk, we may not be able to reach a quick fix, it could be generational we might not even be able to see the full effects of a just and lasting peace within our lifetime but at least the effort, the process, the sailing by itself is the peace that we long for,” she said.
“Once we keep talking then we see that there are avenues for action,” Rebollos added.