The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security examines and highlights women's participation in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding in order to strengthen conflict prevention and resolution initiatives, mitigate humanitarian emergencies, foster democratic political transitions and enhance post-conflict economic development.
The Profiles in Peace Oral Histories Project collects unique, first-hand interviews from men and women on the front lines of peacemaking. Their stories show the important role women have played, and continue to play, in ending conflict and rebuilding their societies.
“Before, when there were meetings to discuss community issues or national issues the women were relegated to the background and couldn’t take part. They say, “Today, we can stand up and we can express ourselves, our views and now they listen! Not only do we talk but now they also listen because they have seen women who are making decisions at a national level and women who are making a difference in the lives of people.”
-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Sirleaf is Africa's first elected female head of state and began her first term as President of Liberia in 2006. President Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 along with two other women activists “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work," in particular for her work promoting reconciliation after Liberia's devastating civil war. One of her first acts as President was to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate two decades of conflict in the country. Sirleaf has remained committed to women's leadership in the peace process and in Liberian politics, nominating a number of women to high-level cabinet and judiciary postings.
Dr. Monica McWilliams
Monica McWilliams was co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC), and later represented the coalition in the multiparty negotiations that lead to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The NIWC, which provided a platform for women at an otherwise predominantly male negotiating table, introduced agenda items such as victims' rights and education that later became key issues in the public campaign to endorse the Agreement. In 2003 she was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
“... the women had organized that march but they had discovered that the men were lining up to take the front and they turned around and said 'Look, we organized this, and we believe that we should today, for once, be at the front of the march.' And they linked arms. It’s the only photograph we’ve got of them. They were, they’ve literally been written out of history. I say that these are women with no names because no one remembers their names.”
-Dr. Monica McWilliams
“I think our work is to transform these women from victims into survivors. Not just survivors, but to empower them, and to have this power turn into genuine leadership of their communities.”
-Dr. Denis Mukwege
Dr. Denis Mukwege
Denis Mukwege is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a life-long advocate for women's empowerment in the DRC. In 1998 he established the Panzi Hospital in an effort to lower the country's maternal mortality rate by providing improved medical care for women. Since then, Dr. Mukwege has expanded his focus, and now provides urgently needed care to victims of sexual violence. Beyond surgical and medical treatment, the Panzi Hospital focuses on psychological services, reintegration and economic empowerment, and access to justice for survivors. For his tireless, lifelong efforts to provide survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the D.R. Congo with medical care and rehabilitative support and his courage in continuing this difficult, but critical work in the face of great personal danger, Dr. Denis Mukwege was presented with the 2014 Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security.
“The question of sexual violence is not one that men should leave up to women based on the idea that it is a women’s problem and that women should be the ones advocating against it and claiming justice. I think it is an issue against humanity altogether, it is a threat to our common humanity and so I think that the final step will be for all of us to speak up and say 'We have to stand up to this.' ”
-Dr. Denis Mukwege
H.E. Zainab Bangura
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed H.E. Zainab Hawa Bangura of Sierra Leone as his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under-Secretary-General. This position was created by UN Security Council Resolution 1820. Zainab Bangura previously served as Sierra Leone’s Minister for Public Health and Sanitation and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. She has extensive experience in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, working on the ground in Liberia managing the civilian component of the UN Mission (UNMIL).
“It’s not only sharing experiences with government, to say, 'You need to do this.' It is also talking to the women, saying, 'You know what, this is not the end of your life. This is what I saw in my country, and this is what the women did. And today, these women are counselors, they are ministers, they are parliamentarians, they are business people. There are children in Sierra Leone who saw women being victims to being leaders. So you can do it! This is what you need to do. And we’re here.' ”
-H.E. Zainab Bangura
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