ICAN’s Senior Program Officer, Stacey Schamber, and WASL member and President of PCID, Amina Rasul, in conversation about the She Talks Peace podcast, part of the global She Builds Peace campaign.
When the pandemic hit the Philippines, Amina Rasul, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), wondered how they would continue their work. Their scheduled launch of the She Builds Peace campaign was canceled the day before the event, so they pivoted to zoom. Without in-person meetings, they were unsure how to proceed until one friend suggested that Rasul try podcasting. “What’s a podcast?” she wondered. Rasul conducted her research, listened to dozens of podcasts, and finally connected with Podcast Network Asia, a podcasting firm with experience in the entertainment industry who was keen to support podcasts with more gravitas.
Rasul realized that a podcast offered an opportunity to reach a wide audience, not only in the Philippines but globally. She connected with Dina Zaman, fellow member of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL), the Southeast Asian Network of Women Peacebuilders (SEAWP), and co-founder of IMAN Research, a Malaysian based think tank. They were both interested in educating others, especially women, about the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda and understanding the critical role that women play in strengthening human security. Through the podcast, women peacebuilders have an opportunity to discuss their work, the challenges they face, and the reasons for their motivation and commitment to women’s rights and peacebuilding. The first episode of the She Talks Peace podcast, which aired in August 2021 reached listeners across seven countries, this has since expanded to 82 countries. While the majority of the audience is women, 29% are men, and the podcast has reached a wide intergenerational cross section: 8% of the listeners are adolescents and 10% are senior citizens, perhaps in decision-making roles.
Listenership by Age (As of August 2022)
Listenership by Country (As of August 2022)
Centered on the WPS agenda and implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325, She Talks Peace has become a platform for information sharing, networking, and training on the role of women peacebuilders bringing peace and security to their communities. With guests from Indonesia to Afghanistan, from Malaysia to Nigeria, each episode shares the stories of peacebuilders and their dreams and hopes for a world without violence. Topics have ranged from violent extremism to modern day slavery, from technology to protecting the environment. Many WASL members have joined to discuss the issues which affect their contexts (listen below).
“Attending university is part of my nonviolence, which I use on a daily basis. This is a way of saying to the occupation, we are here. We have to keep advocating our cause with the international community.” – Lucy Talgieh, WASL Member, Palestine
Rasul has found that podcasting is highly accessible and can serve as a powerful way to discover new audiences and strengthen communities. In her words, “the key technological advantage to podcasting is its time-shifting nature, the ability to listen to audio material when we choose. Podcasting offers convenience to listeners while providing a platform to get informed and be part of a cause.” Rasul reflects that the conversational style, with personal sharing and anecdotes, makes complex issues more understandable and humanizes peacebuilders, enabling listeners to connect with who they are.
“I’ve always focused on the personal. I think it’s important to keep this perspective in policymaking. Women are looking at how to eat, how to provide safe shelter for our children.” – Nina Portaska, WASL Member, Ukraine
“We have to be able to really talk to each other, even if the audience is just hearing us.” One young person described that listening to the podcast felt like eavesdropping because it made it real for her. Podcasts bring intimate conversations about difficult issues into our living rooms and can help communities feel supported. Rasul has encouraged others in the WASL community to host podcasts in their local languages to reach others and help “give a voice to the voiceless.”
“I feel like I’m making more friends. I’m getting to know our sisters more. If they amaze me, you can imagine how much they amaze young people who are listening.” – Amina Rasul, WASL Member and She Talks Peace Host
After Rasul promoted the podcast with her own network, several professors who teach either peace or gender studies contacted her to request permission to use the podcast as resource material. She met with them at Mindanao State University (MSU), which has Institutes for Peace and Development across seven campuses, and decided to create a localized peace curriculum integrating the podcasts into training modules. While the university teaches peace and conflict theory, Rasul explains that it’s not contextualized with an Islamic perspective. She plans to engage in cross-country learning exchange with other WASL members and university professors to develop the curriculum which will also highlight differences across Islamic contexts. In addition to MSU, the University of the Philippines, the Human Rights Commission, and the Department of Education have also indicated interest in the podcasts as learning material.
This year Rasul will experiment with a new format for the podcast, developing a video of the podcast for You Tube. Recognizing that understanding of WPS remains low among policymakers and the security sector, Rasul hopes that by educating the public they can in turn influence key decision-makers. “I want people to know that women peacebuilders are not a threat, they are allies.” Women peacebuilders care for their communities and want to ensure holistic, human security. By changing dynamics at the community level, there may be greater acceptance of women peacebuilders which can seep upwards to affect higher level change. As it develops, She Talks Peace promotes more public awareness and institutionalizes this knowledge in the university system. In Rasul’s words, “You throw the seeds out and hope they take root.”
“I want people to know that women peacebuilders are not a threat, they are allies.” – Amina Rasul, WASL Member and She Talks Peace Host