Interpeace, one of Warrior Addict’s partners, has supported peace and dialogue processes all over the world for over two decades. From its work in other contexts, it learned that many of the methods employed by peacebuilders elsewhere can be used to strengthen trust between communities and improve the inclusiveness of democratic society even in the heart of Europe.
Sweden is world renowned for its high level of welfare, respect for human rights, and neutrality in international conflicts. Yet, as many European countries, it is facing problems of social inclusion and integration. As the political climate around migration was hardening in Europe through 2015 and 2016, Interpeace was engaging people from various communities and different social backgrounds to collectively understand how a more inclusive society can be fostered in Sweden.
In 2016, Interpeace entered into a partnership with the Nordic branch of the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. Together they launched the campaign “One Sweet World” to inspire individuals to take action for a more inclusive society and to stand up for tolerance in the face of growing fear and prejudice.
Not only was a special ice cream flavour made for the campaign, but Swedes were invited to share positive community stories, to celebrate local heroes, and to break down myths and stereotypes regarding differences. Interpeace and Ben & Jerry’s also partnered with the social enterprise Kompis Sverige (“Buddy Sweden”), an initiative that brings together established Swedes and recent arrivals to build personal relationships between people who normally would not meet, thereby challenging stereotypes and prejudice through friendship.
Sofia Breitholz from Ben & Jerry’s summed things up pretty well at the Stockholm Peace Talks, an event with high-level policy makers organised by Interpeace: “For true and lasting social change, all parts of society must be involved and play a role. Governments and civil society cannot do this alone and businesses today have not only a responsibility but a strong role to play… In Sweden, we use this voice to partner with Interpeace […] because when we’re together, we find that we reach a wider audience and we can speak with a louder, clearer and a more impactful voice”.
Interpeace is continuously looking for more ways to follow up on the insights from its work on inclusion in Sweden. Interpeace’s next project focuses on participation in democratic society, teaching marginalised youth the skills needed for effective civic engagement. Youth will be given chances to interact with local authorities and decision makers, creating a dialogue that also teaches decision makers the value of paying attention to young people’s concerns and ideas.
Everyone can be a force for positive change in their communities and societies. Be it young people, old people, corporations or non-profits, we all have something to contribute. Each contribution taking a different shape, depending on our skills, resources and passions.
We would like to give thanks and credit to Oska Kullander and David Magnusson for the images used in this article.
For more informaiton about the fantastic work of our charity partner Interpeace, please visit www.interpeace.org