Celebrating our own women peacebuilders on International Women’s day
March 5, 2021
A world with a future that is equal for all, is a world free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence. It is a future that is sustainable and peaceful with equal rights and opportunities for all. However, this kind of world is still a distant dream for many women across the globe. Despite this reality, women from all over the world in different contexts and communities, stand up against these barriers by becoming leaders and by persevering in their careers.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a future of equality and a future of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. At Interpeace, we reflect on the journey of our own in shaping a future of equality and a peaceful society – real-life champions and role models in peacebuilding.
Roya Elmuntaser is operations officer of Interpeace’s Libya programme based in Tripoli. She is overseeing finance, human resources, logistics and legal aspects related to our work in Libya. Having grown up in a semi-traditional home in Tripoli’s suburbs, and academically ranked as one of the top students, she pursued a degree in economics and political science and then specialized in accounting at Tripoli University. She always dreamed of having a job, which would enable her to contribute to positive change in her own community. She is proud to be a part of Interpeace and contributing to a cause which is near and dear to her heart.
Her message to young women is to, “focus on the positives and don’t overwhelm yourself with the negatives. It’s not always easy and simple to occupy a space but I assure you that you are much stronger and resilient than you think, so be kind to yourself”.
Renée Larivière is the Senior Director of Programmes at Interpeace, providing leadership to the organization’s peacebuilding work worldwide. Her experience in more than 30 countries includes a focus on people’s engagement with violence, conflict management and promoting conflict transformative approaches. She provides leadership and transforms the way peace is fostered, emphasizing that it is important to bring this lens for women and girls that are facing or emerging from conflict.
To her, peacebuilding involves three fundamentals: The absence of structural violence, peace and security for all, and peace premised on the integration of gender perspectives. Finally, she also focuses on equal participation in peacebuilding processes.
“Women, including myself, find the courage to speak up in our everyday lives both professionally and personally. Yet, continued systemic and social barriers brand us as troublemakers, no matter the context where you work or live”. However, she notes that in speaking up we not only demonstrate courage, we also influence others to follow suit.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up. Stand up, be vocal. Find your voice!” says Renée.
“Peace cannot be built from outside; it has to be built from inside” reflects Abiosseh Davis, Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager of Interpeace.
Abiosseh, born in Gambia, and raised in the US, was surrounded by many strong women in her childhood. She desired to make an impact in the world and also see the world around her after her studies. Her first exposure to development work, where she witnessed women being excluded, got her thinking, “this is not how development should be done”.
Her philosophy resonated with the mandate of Interpeace and the ethos of local ownership and facilitation, which does not take over the process. She has seen inclusion as a working reality as opposed to a conceptual ideology, and she is proud to be a part of an organization, which thrives to build more inclusive societies.
“I have always been a minority everywhere I have gone. I am a minority in the place I was born, I was a minority in the places where I grew up and studied and I am a minority in the place I work currently. But this job gives me the opportunity to give voice to women like me in the process of building peace,” says Abiosseh.
Her message to young girls and women is very clear, “don’t let yourselves be placed in a box, constantly look for ways of creating the type of life you want to live. Create the kind of expectations you wish for yourselves and maintain a sense of openness and wonder. You never know what it would lead to”.
As the world celebrates “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” we at Interpeace muse over the acute need for a world where young girls and women can turn their dreams into reality, not a world that is imposed and restricted. Girls and women can change the world, and be who they have dreamed of becoming. The world needs more women at every table where decisions are being made. The world needs women in leadership to stand up and take action, and the girls in their communities and schools to take on leadership. The world needs you.