2009 IPJ Women PeaceMakers Arrive with Message to End Violence and Secure Peace

While their stories and struggles are different in context, the four women who will spend the next eight weeks at the University of San Diego have one thing in common – they all are striving to bring peace and justice to their homelands.

One is an ordained pastor from El Salvador who has vowed “to live and not die for the revolution.” Another was born into a Christian family in the majority Muslim country of Pakistan, and works to protect the rights of women who are targets of honor killings, acid attacks and other forms of violence. The third is a Muslim peacemaker from Sudan, who has been described as a “point person” for creating community and maintaining peace in one of the most conflict-affected and neglected regions of the world. The last is the woman leader of the Talaandig indigenous community in Mindanao in the Philippines, who founded a group to empower women to have equal opportunities in the decision-making processes of their tribe.

The 2009 Women PeaceMakers at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice are: Marta Benavides of El Salvador, Rubina Feroze Bhatti of Pakistan, Zeinab Blandia of Sudan, and Liza Llesis Saway of the Philippines. From now through Nov. 6, the peacemakers will share their stories with USD and the San Diego community. They will work with designated Peace Writers to document and build upon their unique peacemaking stories, an opportunity that is not always possible for these women on the frontline of efforts to end violence.

During the residency, they will speak to USD students through classroom discussions and to the community at large through intimate conversations, detailed below. All events are held in the IPJ Theatre and are free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. 

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Conversation with Rubina Feroze Bhatti of Pakistan
Rubina Feroze Bhatti, founding member and general secretary of a rights-based development group working to address violence, religious intolerance and sectarianism and discriminatory laws and policies against women and minorities, will share her story.

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Conversation with Marta Benavides of El Salvador
Marta Benavides, one of the surviving activists from the original group of human rights and peace advocates in El Salvador during the 1970’s and the rising climate of repression, will share her story. She has been credited with bringing together people at all levels – politics, the arts, law enforcement, agriculture and food security, environment, religion and labor- to defend human rights and develop a culture of peace.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Conversation with Liza Llesis Saway of the Philippines
Liza Llesis Saway, an indigenous peacemaker in Mindanao who has emerged as one of the key leaders in the interfaith and multiethnic community efforts to move forward the peace process in Mindanao, will share her story.

Thursday, Oct. 22, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Conversation with Zeinab Blandia of Sudan
Zeinab Blandia, founder of an organization that trains and cultivates fellow peace ambassadors in her country, will share her story. As one of her projects Blandia has established Tabag Alsalam, or “Tray of Peace,” where women from different regions and diverse cultures share traditional meals and debate peacefully the issues being fought over in the distant battlefield.

For more information on the Women PeaceMaker’s program, and full bios on the participants, go to www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/ipj. The program is made possible through a grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation.

About the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice is beginning its ninth year of its mission to foster peace, cultivate justice, and create a safer world.  In 1998, Joan Kroc gave the University of San Diego $25 million to build the Institute and establish the conflict resolution and peacebuilding program with the request that this be a place “to make peace, not just talk about it.”  Early in 2003, Kroc gave $5 million for a Distinguished Lecture Series, which has created opportunities for heads of state, top United Nations officials and leaders of international non-government organizations to address the students and San Diego community at large.  In 2003, Kroc gave the university an additional $10 million for the Institute and its work and $40 million for the creation of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.   The IPJ is one of two institutes working under the auspices of the School of Peace Studies - the other being the Trans-Border Institute, which is focused on challenges and opportunities in this border region.     


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.