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Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 in General News

“New Curriculum Encourages Critical Thinking on the Role of Gender in Peace”

Janna Barkman and Jazmin Papadopoulos are VOW Manitoba’s very own writers of the Toolkit for Young Feminists. Ellen Paulley, the writer at Menno Simons College in Winnipeg, has written the following interview with Jazmin who is a conflict resolution student at MSC and Janna who has taken courses.

The following article written by Ellen Paulley can be found at:

New Curriculum Encourages Critical Thinking on the Role of Gender in Peace

A new peace curriculum designed by Voice of Women for Peace Manitoba, aims to transform and enhance young women’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes around peace building and conflict resolution.

The curriculum, “Women, Peace & Activism: A Toolkit for Young Feminists to Build a Culture of Peace,” was written by Janna Barkman and Jazmin Papadopoulos, both of whom have studied at Menno Simons College (MSC).

Topics include empowerment and healing through art, transforming the media, engaging in collective action, environmental leadership, rewriting history with women in the story, sexual and gender-based violence and international protection, and culture jamming techniques.

Barkman, who has a Master’s of Development Practice from the University of Winnipeg, says that the topics are “reflective of all the people [she and Papadopoulos] talked to about it­ – especially the young people, they were in the background of everything.”

VOW Manitoba partnered with the Manitoba chapter of the Girl Guides of Canada, who connected Barkman and Papadopoulos with young women who provided feedback on and inspiration for the content. Funding for the curriculum was provided by UNIFOR.

The curriculum “does a really good job in teaching and encouraging young people to not just think about the role that being a woman or being a girl plays, but gender in general,” says Barkman. “It provides a starting point for critical thinking about the role gender plays [in peace].”

Currently available at the VOW Canada website, there are plans to have it available on the Girl Guides of Canada website as well. Online availability means that “anyone can access it, view the materials, case studies, and activities, and engage with it as they desire,” says Papadopoulos, a conflict resolution student at MSC. “Hopefully this means that the curriculum can readily meet the interests and needs of a diverse population.”

In early May, MSC and The University of Winnipeg Global College co-sponsored the first VOW Youth Peace Summit, where Barkman and Papadopoulos presented the curriculum to a group of high school students.

“I was impressed by the level of engagement with the material and with each other,” says Papadopoulos. “We were really fortunate to have a group that worked together so well and were genuinely interested in being present.”

The curriculum has already piqued international interest. Barkman and Papadopoulos presented the curriculum to a group of non-governmental and civil society organizations, and United Nations representatives in New York this spring. “We received a lot of positive feedback, and are currently in contact with folks in a few other countries about how the curriculum might best support their organizations,” says Papadopoulos.

Barkman and Papadopoulos would like to see the topics covered in the curriculum integrated into the formal education system. Their openness to new ideas and criticism means that the curriculum is always evolving, says Barkman. “I do have hope that we can create an even better curriculum that reflects better the world we want to live in.”