P.E.I. psychologist Susan Hartley studies peace, conflict at Rotary Peace Centre in Thailand

Island psychologist Susan Hartley has spent the last 2 and a half months at the Rotary Peace Centre in Bangkok, learning from experts in peace negotiations and people on the front-lines of conflict areas.

'Peace agreements that are made with women at the table are sustained longer'

Susan Hartley visits the Mae Sot area in Thailand to visit camps of Burmese refugees (Susan Hartley/Facebook)
  Island psychologist Susan Hartley has spent the last two and a half months at the  Rotary Peace Centre in Bangkok, learning from experts in peace negotiations and people on the front-lines of conflict areas. 

  "It's been wonderful," said Hartley via Skype "I said to someone I've reclaimed or re-discovered my academic nerd because I'm learning an awful lot about things … It's a challenge and I'm constantly thinking.

  Hartley is one of 21 students from 16 different countries around the world who received a  2016 Peace Fellowship from the Rotary Foundation to spend three months at the Peace Centre.

  "We have had experts from the fields of transitional justice, international law, from disarmament, peace journalism — so it's been a flurry of things," explained Hartley. "I feel like I've been here about a year". 

Women in the peace process

One of the guest lecturers was Irene Santiago who was involved with negotiating a peace agreement in her home country of the Philippines. In 2005, Santiago was one of the 1000 women nominated as a group for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

  "She really showed for the first time that women could be part of a vital part of any peace process," said Hartley.

  On International Women's Day, Hartley and her classmates sent out a news release calling for equal representation of women at the peace tables around the world. 

  "The high participation of women in the Global Peace Fellowship is in stark contrast to their presence at formal peace negotiations globally where there continues to be an imbalance in the representation of women," she wrote.

Susan Hartley with Irene Santiago, one of the guest lecturers at the Rotary Peace Centre (Susan Hartley/Facebook)

  "For example, today women are conspicuously absent from official preparations and meetings regarding peace building in Syria and Afghanistan," said Hartley, who has been a director with the group  Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan for several years.

  "There's research out there that shows that peace agreements that are made with women at the table are sustained longer and do better in security all around," Hartley pointed out.

Canada has 'a pretty good reputation'

  Hartley is the only Canadian in this group of Global Peace Fellows, but Canada has come up in their discussions. 

  A classmate from India quoted Justin Trudeau's line in regards to gender parity in the federal cabinet — "because it's 2015." Hartley says she also learned that restorative justice started in Canada, and that Romeo Dallaire's name "comes up a lot."

Susan Hartley is the only Peace Fellow in this group, which has 21 students from 16 different countries. (Susan Hartley/Facebook)

Visit to Burmese refugee camp

  Hartley and her classmates travelled to the border of Thailand to visit Mae Sot where there are many different refugee camps.  She said they learned first hand about the issues facing the area including migrants, human trafficking, as well as garment factories where refugees work in substandard conditions.

  They also had a chance to see the last place where Burmese refugees go before they leave to be resettled, including ones that were heading to Canada.
Susan Hartley with some of her classmates at the Rotary Peace Centre in Thailand (Susan Hartley/Facebook)

  "So it was really interesting for me to see, as we're getting Syrian refugees in Charlottetown, the process that they go through … How they're educated about our culture, the weather, what to wear, and everything," she said.

  Hartley will also spend 8 days in Nepal before returning to Canada in April.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?