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November 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
This September, the University of San Diego welcomed the 2015 Women PeaceMakers. Beginning their two-month residency at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, these four peacemakers were chosen from more than one hundred applicants.
The Women PeaceMakers Program, which began in 2003, is an annual campus initiative aimed at bringing together women leaders from around the world with the goal of documenting the stories and best practices of international women leaders involved in human rights and peacebuilding practices. The women are paired with professional journalists who work to record their stories of survival and attempts at finding avenues for peace amidst violence and conflict.
“The impact of having four women peacemakers is measured by the many ways they are able to transform us with their courage and unique voices. Each woman peacemaker joins USD to share narratives of kindness, wisdom and action to change situations of terrible violence and oppression,” said Patricia Marquez, dean of the Kroc School of Peace Studies. Adding, “Their presence and their voices humble and empower us to join in efforts leading to peace and justice.”
The 2015 Women PeaceMakers come from Afghanistan, Namibia, Israel, and South Africa and work in a variety of peace-oriented fields.
Judge Najla Ayoubi is originally from Afghanistan. Forced out of her profession during the Taliban rule when women were forbidden to work and girls older than eight were denied education. Ayoubi returned to Afghanistan in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban. Becoming active in the country’s recovery efforts, Ayoubi has held positions in the State Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in Afghanistan, the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, and the Joint Electoral Management Body. She is also an outspoken proponent of women’s rights and education.
Pauline Dempers comes to USD from Namibia. As a human rights activist and co-founder of Breaking the Wall of Silence (BWS), Dempers advocates for those affected by imprisonment, torture and forced disappearances during Namibia’s war of independence. As a member of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) liberation movement, Dempers fled to Angola in 1983 but was later arrested, along with hundreds of other recruits, and held and tortured in underground dungeons. Separated from her family during the war, Dempers has made it her mission to fight for peace, justice and freedom.
Galia Golan is from Israel, but is known internationally as an expert on Israeli-Palestinian politics. Golan is a grassroots activist focused on women’s roles in peacebuilding and parliamentary activism as well as a member of the Peace Now movement. Golan is also the founder of the Jerusalem Link (Bat Shalom) and the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace.
Glenda Wildschut of South Africa is a human rights activist and peacebuilder who grew up amidst violence and human rights abuses. Harassed and arrested by police, Wildschut was determined to overcome the oppression she experienced. Becoming a registered nurse, midwife, and psychiatric nurse, Wildschut has collaborated with health care workers on the establishment of trauma centers. A recipient of the Health and Human Rights Award, Wildschut was appointed by Nelson Mandela as commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.