March 8, recognized as International Women's Day, is celebrated worldwide with various events that highlighted the importance of women roles and efforts in our daily lives. In Malaysia, governmental and non-governmental bodies too hold various events celebrating the contributions of women, and explore how men and women can work in harmony for the wellbeing of humanity.
On this day, Intercultural Dialogue on Women as Agents of Peace and Harmony was organized at the Main Auditorium, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya. The event was organized in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week & International Women’s Day 2018 and is in line with the declaration of the Malaysian Government of 2018 as Women Empowerment Year, under The University Malaya Grand Challenge Research: “Empowering Women and Engaging Youth in Promoting Peace” and “Building Peace through Intercultural Education and Interfaith Dialogue/Ethnics Relations”. This event was held under the auspices of the World Interfaith Harmony Week and was held with support from UM’s Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, and sponsored by Bank Islam and Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM).
The event consisted of two parts: the first part contained two sessions of dialogues and exchanges, while the second part was a film-viewing session that featured the film The Open Sky by film-maker Kyal Yi Lin Six. The film revolves around the friendship between two women of different faith traditions in the midst of ethnic conflict in their community. Following the film, local film-maker and activist Anna Har moderated a discussion.
The dialogue aims to promote mutual understanding between different religions, to encourage interreligious dialogue and to celebrate the role of women from different generations, cultures, and faith in promoting peace. The significance of intercultural dialogue which embraces the values of respect, mutuality, and compassion in building a peaceful society where people of different cultures and faiths can co-exist in harmony cannot be overstated in a world rife with cultural and religious conflicts.