USD Welcomes Women Peacemakers from Around the World
The Women PeaceMakers of the University of San Diego arrive this Monday, September 13, 2010. As part of their two-month residency, the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice will hold the international working conference, “Precarious Progress: U.N. Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security” September 29 to October 1, 2010.
Now in its eighth year, the Women PeaceMakers Program documents the stories and practices of international women leaders who are involved in human rights and peacemaking efforts in their home countries. Each year four women have the opportunity to share and build upon their unique peacemaking stories. The 2010 Women PeaceMakers are Sarah Akoru Lochodo of Kenya, Vaiba Kebeh Flomo of Liberia, Merlie B. Mendoza of the Philippines and Nora Chengeto Tapiwa of Zimbabwe.
In the weeks surrounding the conference, the women tell their stories to writers who capture their struggles, successes, dreams and disappointments. They interact with and address high school and other public audiences, and become a central part of the USD community for eight weeks.
The 2010 Women PeaceMakers Conference coincides with a momentous year, marking both the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 – the landmark resolution created to address the victimization of women in conflict, and to recognize the integral, inspiring and often ignored ways in which women contribute to peace.
Shortened bios of the peacemakers are included below. For full bios, information on the conference and to register to attend, please visit us at http://peace.sandiego.edu.
Sarah Akoru Lochodo of Kenya is the only woman negotiating among the semi-nomadic and pastoralist communities in her district. When Akoru was appointed assistant chief of Kainuk Sub-Division in 2002, it was a time when gun violence and cattle rustling plagued the region. Akoru had to carry a gun herself at times, even as she was stepping forward as the first women bringing about non-violent resolutions to the region. She is well known as a community mediator who encourages discussion of the roots of the region’s violence and surrender of illegal weapons.
Peace activist and social worker Vaiba Kebeh Flomo of Liberia has worked since 1998 to heal both her nation and its women from the 14-year civil war between rebel groups and the Liberian army. Working at the Lutheran Church in Liberia – Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (LCL-THRP), Flomo supervises psychosocial services to war-affected women and girls and empowers them to build peace and promote nonviolence in their communities. Desperate to do more than respond to the war’s victims, Flomo and a colleague formed the Christian Women Peace Initiative and began mobilizing women to protest the war and register to vote.
Merlie B. Mendoza of the Philippines has coordinated peace in both government and grassroots capacities. As a peace practitioner and humanitarian, Mendoza has over two decades of peacebuilding experience ranging from the Office of the President in Manila to the conflicted frontlines of Mindanao. In 1989 she served the Corazon Aquino administration in various presidential departments and assisted the official Government Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front.
A dedicated activist, Nora Chengeto Tapiwa works to protect and procure the peace and human rights of her fellow Zimbabweans – in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. Currently in exile herself, Tapiwa is a widely known leader of Zimbabwean activists in South Africa. As founder and current secretary of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber, she strives to create cohesion and unity among the Zimbabwean diaspora and within South Africa’s migrant communities at large.
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