University of San Diego Welcomes Women Peacemakers

SAN DIEGO, CA – This week, the University of San Diego welcomed the 2015 Women PeaceMakers, who are beginning their two-month residency at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

The Women PeaceMakers Program, which began in 2003, is an annual campus initiative that brings together four women leaders from around the world with the goal of documenting the stories and best practices of international women leaders involved in human rights and peacebuilding practices in their home countries. Each of the women is paired with a professional journalist who works to record their stories of survival and attempts at finding avenues for peace amidst violence and conflict.

“The impact of having four women peacemakers is measured by the many ways they are able to transform us with their courage and unique voices. Each woman peacemaker joins USD to share narratives of kindness, wisdom and action to change situations of terrible violence and oppression,” said Patricia Marquez, dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies. Adding, “Their presence and their voices humble and empower us to join in efforts leading to peace and justice.”

The 2015 Women PeaceMakers come from Afghanistan, Namibia, Israel, and South Africa and work in a variety of peace-oriented fields:

· Judge Najla Ayoubi of Afghanistan was forced out of her profession during the Taliban rule when women were forbidden to work and girls older than eight were denied education. In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, Ayoubi returned to Afghanistan and became active in the country’s recovery efforts. Having held positions in the State Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in Afghanistan, the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, and the Joint Electoral Management Body, Ayoubi is an outspoken proponent of women’s rights and education.

· Pauline Dempers of Namibia is a human rights activist and co-founder of Breaking the Wall of Silence (BWS) which advocates for those affected by imprisonment, torture and forced disappearances during Namibia’s war of independence. A member of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) liberation movement, Dempers fled to Angola in 1983 but was later arrested, along with hundreds of other recruits, and held and tortured in underground dungeons. Separated from her family during the war, Dempers has made it her mission to fight for peace, justice and freedom.

· Galia Golan of Israel, an internationally known expert on Israeli-Palestinian politics, is a grassroots activist focused on women’s roles in peacebuilding and parliamentary activism. A member of the Peace Now movement, Golan-Gild is also the founder of the Jerusalem Link (Bat Shalom) and the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace.

· Glenda Wildschut of South Africa is a human rights activist and peacebuilder who grew up amidst violence and human rights abuses. Harassed and arrested by police, Wildschut was determined to overcome the oppression she experienced. Becoming a registered nurse, midwife, and psychiatric nurse, Wildschut has collaborated with health care workers on the establishment of trauma centers. A recipient of the Health and Human Rights Award, Wildschut was appointed by Nelson Mandela as commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Throughout the months of September and October, the women will take part in several speaking engagements, both on and off-campus, and will have the opportunity to share their stories with the wider San Diego community. The Women Peacemakers panel will take place on Wednesday, October 7, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Each woman will also have the opportunity to share her story through the series, “Conversations with the Women Peacemakers,” which will occur on October 13, 15, 20 and 27 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. at the Institute for Peace and Justice.

For more information on the women and the USD Women PeaceMakers Program, please visit

The Women PeaceMakers biographies can be found at

The women are available for media interviews. All media requests should be sent to the Office of Media and Digital Communications, (619) 260-4681,

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning committed to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and the creation of ethical leaders. Chartered in 1949, the university enrolls approximately 8,300 undergraduate and graduate full-time equivalent students. The University of San Diego has a long history of public service and is recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The university’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Business Administration, The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, The School of Law, The School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. For more information go to

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.