USD Welcomes New Women Peacemakers

Women from Israel, Sri Lanka, Kashmir and Uganda tell their stories of building peace amid war and violence

San Diego, CA: The newest group of global 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 and Justice.

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

The 2014 peacemakers come from areas in the midst of or recovering from violent conflict, and work in a variety of fields related to peacebuilding and human rights:

  • Robi Damelin of Israel is a spokesperson for the Parents Circle – Families Forum, a grassroots organization of more than 600 bereaved Palestinians and Israelis who promote reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge. Her son was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2002, and her journey toward reconciliation since then was chronicled in the film “One Day After Peace.”

  • Nimalka Fernando of Sri Lanka is a prominent human rights defender and the president of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism. She is in the ethnic majority but religious minority in Sri Lanka, and continually faces threats for her fervent calls for accountability for alleged war crimes committed during the decades-long war in her country.

  • Ashima Kaul of India (Kashmir) is a journalist,born and raised in Kashmir as part of the ethnic minority community of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits. She founded the group Athwaas, or “handshake,” to hold dialogues between Kashmiri Muslim and Hindu women, and the group Yakjah, or “being together.” Yakjah works primarily with youth in the region on peacebuilding and development.

  • Margaret Arach Orech of Uganda is a survivor of a landmine explosion and the founder of the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA), as well as an ambassador for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Through ULSA, Orech encourages dialogue and reconciliation among other survivors of violence – including former rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which was responsible for the landmine attack in which she was injured.

The 2014 Women PeaceMakers will be speaking at the following events at the Peace & Justice Theatre at the University of San Diego:

Tuesday, October 14: Women PeaceMakers Panel
7 – 9 p.m.
All four peacemakers will speak on their work, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

The following are daytime events featuring candid, on-stage, one-on-one interviews with an individual peacemaker, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Thursday, October 16: Conversation with Nimalka Fernando of Sri Lanka
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 21: Conversation with Robi Damelin of Israel
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 28: Conversation with Ashima Kaul of India (Kashmir)
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 4: Conversation with Margaret Arach Orech of Uganda
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

The program will also be convening an international working conference from November 19-21 on “Defying Extremism: Gendered Responses to Religious Violence.” The conference requires application and registration, but speakers will be available for media interviews.

For more information on the peacemakers and USD’s Women PeaceMakers Program, please visit us at

For full bios of this year’s Women PeaceMakers, please see:

The women are available for media interviews by calling 619- 260-4659 x4.

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 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’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 recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that 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.


Denise Ward
(619) 260-4659