The American Association of University Women (AAUW) invites the 2007 Women PeaceMakers, Samia Bamieh of Palestine, Latifah Anum Siregar of Indonesia, Susana Tenjoh-Okwen of Cameroon and Irina Yanovskaya of South Ossetia (Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone), to present their unique and compelling stories of building peace in war-town areas of the world at a special event in San Diego, California.
This information was forwarded by the Joan B. Kroc Center Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego.
The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) announced that the following four women were selected as the 2007 Women PeaceMakers. They began their residency at the IPJ on September 17.
Susana Tenjoh-Okwen of Cameroon
Susana Tenjoh-Okwen is a teacher, community peace mediator, facilitator promoting social and economic empowerment, and respected gender activist who has active peacebuilding experience in two provinces of Cameroon. As technical adviser for women's affairs in the Ashong Cultural and Development Association of Bamenda, a founding member of the Moghamo Women's Cultural and Development Association of Cameroon, and president of Moghamo Women's Association, Susana has been working to address causes of long-standing inter-tribal conflict that seldom makes international news, but that has resulted in division, displacement and trauma for many people in several regions. In uniting and educating women from different camps, she was able to overcome the hostilities of men against men from those different camps at the peak of a crisis when families were being torn apart. Educating women about their rights in Cameroon society is a full-time vocation for this mother of five, who is also publicity secretary for the Cameroon Association of University Women (affiliated with the International Federation of University Women) and is on the board of the Fomunyoh Foundation, a charitable organization promoting humanitarian activities and peace. Susana teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels, has many published articles on her gender work and has appeared on Cameroon television as a facilitator on peace and gender issues.
Samia Bamieh of Palestine
Samia Bamieh is a founding member and respected leader of the International Women's Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace (IWC) and is chairperson of its Palestinian Steering Committee. Samia, one of the experts who helped formulate the Palestinian government’s Plan of Action on gender after the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, was the director of gender policies and training in the Palestinian Directorate of Gender and Development of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. She then served in the same ministry as director of U.N. and International Organizations and director general of European Affairs, and was a member of the committee assigned to draft a Palestinian constitution under Minister Nabeel Shaath. Samia, a mother of two, has been involved for over 30 years in promoting women’s rights and roles in politics and decision making. She is fully engaged in efforts to build a civil, political society for a future Palestinian state on two interdependent fronts: the establishment of an independent democratic state with a constitution that acknowledges pluralism and non-discrimination, and the expansion and defense of achievements of Palestinian women in their political and legal struggles. In spite of having suffered from war, occupation and disappointing peace efforts, Samia has chosen to take paths that allow her to support and inform new ways of thinking about the conflict and how peace and communities might be restored.
Latifah Anum Siregar of Indonesia
Latifah Anum Siregar is a human rights lawyer, the chairperson of the Alliance for Democracy in Papua (ALDP) and an expert at the Commission for Law and Human Rights of the parliament in Papua Province. Although from a different island, speaking a different language and practicing a different religion, Latifah became a trusted, effective advocate for peace working within the complex tribal and migrant conflicts of Papua communities. Respected for her and ALDP’s call to identify traditional laws, norms and values that could help settle land disputes, she has led the way to articulating these traditions in written law that the Papua indigenous people can now use to negotiate with the government and migrants in the search for peaceful solutions to land conflicts. During Latifah’s student days in the early 1990s, she was chairperson of the Muslim Students Association; later in the decade she served as a member of the regional parliament in Papua Province; from 2003-2007 she was on the board of directors of Papua Women Solidarity; and from 2007-2011 she will serve as General Secretary of the Papua Muslim Assembly. Seeing the Papua struggle to prioritize means to achieve peace and justice as a reflection of respect for human values, Latifah says that this can teach people across the world about the path to inclusive solidarity and respectful communities.
Irina Yanovskaya of South Ossetia (Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone)
Irina Yanovskaya is a journalist, lawyer, chair of the nongovernmental organization Journalists for Human Rights, children’s advocate focused on post-conflict healing and peace education for children, as well as the mother of four, grandmother of one and a singer in her church choir. Devoted to resolving the conflict between Georgians and Ossetians that began with the disintegration of the USSR, she is an outspoken critic of media that abuses and distorts public opinion. She was recognized in 2005 among the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to help war-traumatized children and women to overcome the horrors they witnessed, and for her efforts to reopen the doors that once existed in mixed communities of Ossetian and Georgian people now torn apart by hate and suspicion. She has given seminars and facilitated discussions among various groups within Georgian and Ossetian civil society, created summer camps for Georgian and Ossetian children and works with War Child International in Holland. A primary emphasis in all of Irina’s work and extensive writing has been to find ways to open minds to peace and respect, especially those of children and young people who have only lived in conflict and revenge.
About the Program:
Made possible through a generous grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice's (IPJ) Women PeaceMakers Program invites four women from around the world who have been locally involved in human rights and peacemaking efforts. Women accepted into this program are seeking ways to further their peacemaking efforts in their home countries.
For more information about the PeaceMakers Program, visit http://peace.sandiego.edu/programs/women.html
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2007
Time: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
St. Dunstans Episcopal Church
6556 Park Ridge Blvd.
San Diego, CA United States