The opening session is composed of two activities: a 'Welcome' from workshop organisers and an optional 'Opening ceremony' led by the facilitators.
- to connect participants to the history of integrated security workshops, helping them to feel part of a larger movement of women human rights defenders globally and giving them a sense of the depth of experience underpinning the workshop method;
- to set a tone of respect for each other and to mark clearly a transition from ‘everyday life’ to the space of the workshop; and
- to set immediately expectations that the workshop method is unusual (active, peer-to-peer learning)
- the welcome portion of the opening should be tailored to participants’ traditional means of showing respect. In some cultures, a light and brief welcome of a few minutes by any organisation representative is adequate. In other cultures, a welcome would be much more elaborate – who opens an event and how are extremely important in sending clear signals of respect for the participants and the workshop itself; and
- the opening ceremony portion is adaptable – it can range from a simple, yet effective, act, such as lighting a central candle to a more elaborate ceremony. In selecting and designing the act or ceremony, remember that first impressions matter. The ceremony should ground participants in the space and begin connecting the group.