A woman’s right to a significant role and a seat at the table for conflict resolution and peace discussions shows signs of hope, but it’s not enough.
“The international community is recognizing more and more the role that women have to play in bringing peace to interment conflict and end the violence. In some ways, there has been international progress through (United Nations) resolutions,” said Jennifer Freeman, program officer in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. “But while there is all this talk and motivation, not a lot is happening for women on the ground. They’re still faced with rape, violence and conflict. Women are still disproportionately affected, so we have much more work to do.”
Through a grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation, the University of San Diego and the IPJ are doing their part to facilitate awareness through the unique Women PeaceMakers program, which has been held each fall since 2003.
For eight weeks, four women representing countries that have experienced incredible conflict, come to USD to live together, bond and to share their story. They’re paired with a female writer who spends each day with them to talk about their background, their passion and produce a permanent record — their voice — that is shared worldwide. A three-day women’s issues conference, held in conjunction with the PeaceMakers’ September arrival, includes field experts and, on occasion, Women PeaceMakers alumnae.
“It’s about finding these voices that aren’t being amplified enough and raising them to the point that they’re reaching policymakers, reaching students and reaching the next generation of leaders to show them that what they’ve done can work,” said Freeman, who has been a PeaceMakers writer twice and now helps run the program.
“I see these women as people who have been exposed to the most abhorrent violence, the absolute worst that humanity has to offer, and the absolute weakest forms of abuses of power and justice that the world has seen, and yet they have come out to be the best forms of humanity. They exhibit a strength, a courage and a determination that is so awe-inspiring.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
"It’s about finding these voices that aren’t being amplified enough and raising them to the point that they’re reaching policymakers, reaching students and reaching the next generation of leaders to show them that what they’ve done can work."