Inside USD

Rainbow of Peace: USD welcomes the 10th group of Women PeaceMakers

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The 10th group of Women PeaceMakers at the University of San Diego has arrived on campus for a two-month residency at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.

Celebrating its momentous 10th anniversary, the Women PeaceMakers Program documents the stories and peacebuilding practices of international women leaders. Each year, four women are paired with four professional writers to record their unique stories of living in conflict and building peace.

Jennifer Freeman, the IPJ’s program officer for Women PeaceMakers, is delighted to welcome women from around the globe to campus.

“This program has connected the critical mass of women peacemaker leaders from around the world and has brought with it recognition for USD and our program. The Women Peacemakers Program is the first of its kind and internationally utilized by academics, students and policy makers for lessons and inspiration.”

The 2012 peacemakers come from long-standing and little known conflicts, and work in a variety of fields. Nancy Sánchez, a journalist by training, is a human rights activist in the violent Putumayo region of Colombia. Alice Nderitu works to prevent election-related violence, as a commissioner on Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission. Radha Paudel is providing a platform for rural and impoverished women to have their voices heard in the writing of Nepal’s first democratic constitution. Ludmila Popovici founded the first rehabilitation center for survivors of torture in Moldova.

Paudel, who is visiting the United States for the first time, calls it a privilege and an honor to be at USD for the Women Peacemakers Program. “I’m so excited to be here and to be with all these women, all from different backgrounds but with the same notions. It’s an opportunity to share our experiences and I’m very hopeful that we can work together on common issues like advocacy and sharing of resources.”

Paudel went on to say, “It looks like a rainbow in here — all the colors in the clothing, all the different cultures and all the issues we represent.”

The four women will have the chance to discuss their respective life story in a conversation setting in October. Nderitu will speak on Oct. 9, Paudel on Oct. 11, Popovici on Oct. 16 and Sanchez on Oct. 23. Each event takes place from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the IPJ Theatre. Furthermore, all four women will be together for a panel discussion on Oct. 10, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the IPJ Theatre. All events are free and open to the public.

In addition to the 2012 Peacemakers, USD is proud to have 33 former peacemakers back on campus to celebrate the Women Peacemakers Program 10th anniversary. A lively group of smart, dedicated and driven women, the nearly 40 peacemakers come together for a conference called “Breaking Barriers: What it will take to achieve security, justice and peace.” Also attending the Sept. 26-28 conference are 150 peace and justice leaders from over 50 countries.

The enthusiasm for peacebuilding is palpable when in the presence of the peacemakers. Wahu Kaara, a peacemaker from Kenya who has returned to campus for the conference, spoke to her fellow leaders, remarking of the violence in her home country of Africa: “We will stop it. We are the people. And we will do it without guns.”

— Melissa Wagoner

A special photo exhibit, “Photography for Social Change: Images by Michele Zousmer,” highlights selected Women PeaceMakers and the environments of their native countries. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Oct. 25 in the Hahn University Center Exhibit Hall. Photos can be purchased and proceeds go to the Women PeaceMakers Program.

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