The day commenced with opening words by Marjaana Jauhola and Zahra Edalati, organizers of the event and teachers of the course, who stressed the necessity of creating such space for the development of the field and to opening doors for students and young researchers equally. As Marjaana said, “we are making history”.
The symposium continued with a keynote by Tiina Vaittinen, Senior Research Fellow at Tampere University and co-founder of the Feminist Peace Research Network, who shared her introduction to and experiences with feminist research, emphasizing it as being “on a continuum of feminist peace theory of care”. Furthermore, she concluded her address by stressing the importance of creating safe spaces within feminist peace research.
Following the inspiring talk by Dr. Vaittinen and an intense Q&A session, the participants had the opportunity to take a look, examine, discuss and learn more about the students and some of the attendees’ poster presentations. The symposium displayed a “gallery walk” where everyone could listen to the students’ presentations on a varied range of topics, from the “Inclusion of women in successful peace processes: the case of Colombian 2016 Peace Agreement”, “The effect in women’s everyday life in Afghanistan after the rise of the Taliban in 2021”, and “The gendered assumption in the discourse of women’s participation in the military in Finland”, to “Feminism and the headscarf ban for teachers in schools in Berlin”, and “The use of the WPS Agenda by Nigerian and Kenyan NGOs to combat violent extremism in local communities”.
The rousing conversations between students and participants allowed an enriching exchange of knowledge and experiences that greatly benefited both. The program counted with two rounds of these poster presentations with a middle break for lunch. But all presentations left us critically thinking and reflecting on feminism and feminist research, allowing us to transition naturally to the final panel discussion of the symposium on “The Futures of Feminist Peace Research in Finland”.
The panel was chaired by TAPRI Senior Research Fellow, Élise Féron, and counted with the participation of Violeta Gutiérrez Zamora, Postdoctoral Researcher at Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), Leena Vastapuu, Assistant Professor of war studies in the area of gender, peace and security at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU), Ana Tarazona, PhD Researcher at Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), and Deanna Reder, 2023 MPhil candidate for St Andrews’s Peacebuilding and Mediation programme.
The panelists reflected on their important contribution to feminist peace research in the country and elsewhere, specifically in countries like Mexico or Colombia, where some of the speakers are from and where they have conducted their research. They similarly signaled some of the hindrances they are currently facing, and the need to create informal spaces inside and outside academia where feminist peace research can be developed. Violeta Gutiérrez and Ana Tarazona emphasized as well that inclusion of voices from outside the academic community can be highly beneficial.
“Feminist peace is an ethical commitment”
– Leena Vastapuu
Finally, and to conclude the day, the participants were encouraged to build a utopia tree by one of the course students, Elora Schrauth, who asked the audience to think of their utopia world and write it down, so we can be reminded and visualize what we are working for. The symposium ended with some closing words by the organizers and the promise of future similar events that progress feminist peace research in Finland, as successfully done that day at Tampere University.