by Genevieve Balance-Kupang

 

On September 13, 2022, Pathways to Peace honored eight women peace awardees, the Exceptional Young Women of Peace [EYWP] and the Exceptional Women of Peace [EWP] to commemorate the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (A/RES/53/243) resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 1999.

Out of the 30 nominees, from different parts of the globe, eight were awarded– Emma DeBiase, Nina Meyerhof, Hortense Minishi, Lois Nicolai, Oman Espe Njomo (Esther), Rebecca Turay, Catherine Volk, and Salma Yusuf.

Keynote speaker Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury.

Pathways to Peace is grateful for the presence and words of wisdom of our keynote speaker Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury.

Pathways to Peace Executive Director Tezikiah (Tez) Gabriel (USA), Project Lead Kimberly Weichel (USA), other Leadership Team members Atty. Natasha Singh-Ally (South Africa), Atty. Asha Asokan (India), and Dr. Genevieve Balance Kupang (Philippines).

I was privileged to be part of the EWP Leadership Team (LT) who read all the entries and selected the winners. Below is my reflection on the search process.

I would like to express my profound admiration and infinite gratitude to Pathways to Peace for its commitment to creating positive change and building lasting peace. Joining the Leadership Team was a tough yet invigorating task and an exciting adventure as we welcomed the nominees, read, and learned about their unique stories, and rated and deliberated the finalists.

I have learned through our peace work that the spirituality of celebration gives joy and bliss to those who participate in it. The campaign period, selection process, and eventually the recognition of the uplifting and life-giving works of women peacebuilders add value to their bravery, transformational leadership, and staunchness to the work of peace. Indeed, these women are beacons of strength and hope as Kimberly Weichel puts it.

Kudos to Pathways to Peace Executive Director Tezikiah (Tez) Gabriel, Project Lead Kimberly Weichel, and other fellow leadership team members Natasha Singh-Ally from South Africa, and Asha Asokan from India. It is a joy and pleasure knowing you, discussing and deliberating with you, and working with you for the advancement of the culture of dialogue and peace.

To read, re-read, or even watch and learn about the unique, touching, inspiring narratives of incredible women peace advocates from all over the world is like basking in the drapery of light of the vivacious grandfather sun glowing with its radiance giving hope, pacifying frightened and traumatized embodied souls. The stories of these women nominees are speaking to me saying “It is another day to shine,” Go, my lady, be not afraid, continue to get involved in recovery, in healing, in vivifying other beings by reconnecting and restoring.” Their narratives warm my heart so intimately that I am moved to do more and work with others with my divine core.

It is like listening to the chorus of the early morning chuckles of birds, chickens, and insects; it is like being a flower on a garden bed being taken care of by a loving and caring gardener. I felt the “authenticity” of the women advocates who were nominated, and amid the challenges we are experiencing like the covid19 pandemic, living in tents among refugees, among others, these women are up, working for their families and communities.

Many always say “to be nominated is an honor in itself.” I, therefore, congratulate all the nominees from many parts of the globe. Some have experienced the trauma of war and violence themselves. Some have transcended the scourge of poverty and lack of opportunities. Some have realized early on in their life, that peacebuilding is their calling and what gives meaning to their existence. And some are human rights, environmental and peace advocates, and interreligious dialogue practitioners. Some are widows and single moms who, in spite of their situations, find time to help others and work for peace and interbeing. Some have experienced great challenges like the lack of economic resources, but they have shown that collaboration and boldness to seek help from others will keep the peace work moving.

Some worked for peace for more than 40 years, or less, but they are known to have spent their energy and resources for the cause of peace. So, hurray, and my hats off to the following women: Pea Horsley, Barbara Gaughen-Muller, Nina Meyerhof, Dot Maver, Kat Haber, Barbara Condron, Monica Willard, Teri Miller, Pam Ahern, Caroline Myss, Aïssatou Adamou, Safiatou Dan Mallam Kindo, Hortense Minishi, Genevieve Balance Kupang, Maritza Adonis, Khadija Arfaoui, Najla Al-Sheikh, Maha Awn, Omam Espe Njomo (Esther), Somaia Alhosam, Lois Nicolai, Rabab Fatima, Elizabeth Sheridan, Martiza Adonis, Safiatou Dan Mallam Kindo, Salma Yusuf, Catherine Wolk, Emma De Biase, and Rebecca Turay.

Here are some lines that struck me as a reader of their narratives:

“I lost my son and his wife to gruesome killings. Nonetheless, I do not believe in the death penalty… Killing another person is not a solution to crimes done by lawbreakers…”

“I am you; you are me, there is no other.”

“I was bullied as a child…many drops of water form a mighty ocean. I believe our working together can bring about a large ocean of change…”

“I am a child of war. My family was displaced because of armed conflict. But we were able to lead thousands of volunteers to enhance security and stability, supporting women entrepreneurs, and working towards peace and development.”

“Joy is a special wisdom. Taking a long view in both directions of this remarkable human journey offers an assurance that we have free will and as conscious beings will ultimately choose light and love over destruction and violence. The challenges are seen and experienced like blades of grass growing up through cement.”

“We are invigorated in performing land blessings, planting peace poles, and infusing the world with the energy of peace. We are convinced that peace is possible. We all must do our part and become part of the solution.”

There were many precious words that were shared that cannot be captured in one article. Watch the awarding ceremony that honored these women and listen more to their words of wisdom on building peace. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1SjGSQOH5M.

Mabuhay ang lahat ng nanalo (Long live to the winners), finalists, nominees, and all peace advocates in the world. Long live all people of goodwill!


About the Author:

Genevieve Balance Kupang (Genie) is an anthropologist, consultant, researcher, and advisor to individuals and organizations engaged in working for good governance, genuine leadership, justice, integrity of creation, peace, the indigenous peoples, preservation of cultures, and societal transformation processes. She is a peace educator, author, interreligious dialogue practitioner, and resource person with a career in the academe and NGO.