Nerlian Gogali

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2013
Institut Mosintuwu


This profile was prepared when Nerlian Gogali was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Lian has been creating processes that separate religion from conflict, and thereby prevent conflict in religious communities. The process goes beyond religious leaders and involves women from the community who use interfaith dialogue and deep empathy to heal the wounds of conflict. It allows women to understand politics relative to their role as peacemakers. This approach is considered new to the Indonesian context where religious conflict is deep-seated. For the process to take place, Lian developed the Women’s School, where female post-conflict victims and former religious opponents come together, first and foremost, as friends. Women start with a discussion of daily life, sharing personal narratives and discuss their position in society. The school allows women to experience healing and new reflections on conflict, gain social and civic training, speak their mind, and deliver messages of peace. They build trust while having interfaith dialogues among different ethnic and religious backgrounds (Muslim, Christian, and Hindu). As a grassroots movement, the Women’s School is set to be sustainable; using personal resources, the student’s run the classes. Some of the graduates have also become leaders in the school and facilitators for new students. Having spread across over 24 villages in four subdistricts of Poso, the graduates are now local facilitators for religious tolerance, peace, and gender equality through initiatives in their communities. Through the Women’s School, Lian has set up a network of Interfaith Women’s Organizations, which are set to become the platform for other women’s organizations, such as the Women’s Congress, where women gain influence in policymaking.

Because conflict in the region is mainly across religious lines, women cannot heal unless they use interfaith dialogue and communication. Lian developed a mobile library initiative at the “boundary” of religiously demarcated communities, through which children from various religious and ethnic backgrounds come together. For the mobile library project, Lian uses books as a medium to build trust and teach diversity. Due to its success, the Women’s School has received attention from local politicians and government, which will further aid it to become involved in the peacebuilding process in Poso. Lian soon plans to insert the Women’s School concept into Christian worship at church prayer groups, as well as Muslim prayer groups (majelis taklim).

Lian’s work is not just about peace, it is about the long process of cultivating empathy and advancing civil rights through various means, including a Women’s Congress. Through the school, women engage each other through empathy, learn to be leaders for their community, and provide influence to the wider society. The process has transformed women from the role of victim to that of peacemaker, therefore preventing future conflicts and minimizing trauma.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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