Graduates of ‘MotherSchools: Parenting for Peace’ programmes, now equipped with the necessary competence and confidence to challenge extremism at the grassroots level, go on to disseminate their knowledge and share their experiences with other concerned and affected mothers and community members. MotherSchools’ transformative impact in at-risk areas where the programme has been realised proved not only to resonate with the broad spectrum of stakeholders; it also led to a central question: how can this global movement of Mothers Preventing Violent Extremism (MPVE) be sustained and extended? Women without Borders (WwB) has been since 2016 addressing this question through its follow-up programme: ‘MotherCircles: Leadership for Peace’.
MotherCircles convene former teachers and participants to bring their acquired ‘Parenting for Peace’ philosophy, knowledge, and experience deeper into their respective communities. During weekly sessions with mothers, each ‘Leader’ (former Teacher) works with and mentors two ‘Buddies’ (typically former Participants). Buddies in turn become Leaders, mobilise new mothers and Buddies, and the cycle of exponential growth recommences. Deepening the experience in communities where MPVE efforts already are having a visible impact is imperative to unrooting extremism.
This Model has the distinct quality of bringing key elements of WwB’s MotherSchools curriculum to particularly isolated women, who may have faced barriers to joining the original programme. By contrast, WwB’s MotherCircles curriculum promotes greater contextualisation by encouraging Leaders to rely more on their range of academic and practical expertise. As graduation ceremonies have demonstrated, the MotherCircles Model strengthens the ‘Parenting for Peace’ foundation through its ‘Leadership for Peace’ dimension.