Four Inspiring Women
Peace and stability require all of us. That’s why, on October 15, we’re bringing together hundreds of innovative thinkers—men and women—to foster new ideas about how to build a more inclusive and secure world.
More than 25 members of our global network of women peacebuilders will join policymakers and other influential leaders in Washington, DC, for this dynamic event. Here, we profile four of their inspiring stories.
Wazhma Frogh, AfghanistanChallenging the edicts of mullahs and other conservative leaders can be a death sentence in Afghanistan. But Wazhma Frogh is undaunted. “Of course it’s very risky,” she says of her activism. “I may lose my life during this process, but if I am able to open a door for rights for one woman, then it is worth it.” After participating in the country’s Peace Loya Jirga in 2010, Wazhma founded an organization to promote inclusion of Afghan women at all levels of peace and security—from negotiations with the Taliban to policing.
Pastor Esther Ibanga, Nigeria
Regular bloodshed in rocky Plateau State spurred Esther Ibanga to abandon a lucrative 16-year career in Nigeria’s Central Bank to undertake a full-time ministry. Later, in response to a massacre of more than 500 women and children three miles from her home, she organized a march of Christian women for peace. The killing continued, so Esther reached out to a female Muslim leader, knowing that joint activity would be more powerful. “Society has always placed boundaries on us. But, you know, these boundaries are man-made. Cross the line; you just might be surprised,” she says.
Alaa Murabit, LibyaSince the days of the revolution, Alaa Murabit has fought for security in her hometown of Zawia and throughout Libya. Though these actions landed her on the government’s “Most Wanted” list, she remained undeterred. In the wake of the Arab Spring, she founded The Voice of Libyan Women to address the instability, extremism, and corruption that plague her country. Now, she travels around Libya and the world demanding that women have a say in all the issues of safety and security that govern their daily lives. “In Libya,” she says, “I’ve seen more progress on peace and security from the work of arms dealers like myself—women who wield weapons like dialogue, awareness, and education—than from the carriers of ‘hard’ weapons.”
Irene Santiago, The Philippines
One of the few women in the world with personal experience in formal peace negotiations, Irene Santiago served from 2001-2004 on the government panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). She is an internationally-known gender equality advocate, having organized a hugely successful civil society event in parallel to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. With 30,000 participants, it was the largest international conference on women in history. She was also among the 1,000 women nominated as a group for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. According to Irene, “Power is not a bad word; it’s the potency to act for what is good.”
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