MEDIA ADVISORY
 
 

“WOMEN UNITING FOR PEACE”

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, 8 MARCH 2000


United Nations Secretary-General to Open
First International Women’s Day Observance of the New Millennium

A call from women around the world for a stronger voice and a role in peace negotiations and peace building strategies will be the focus of a special event “Women Uniting for Peace” at UN Headquarters for International Women’s Day on 8 March. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to open the special event, which will take the form of a Town Hall Meeting.  Among other eminent speakers are Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Angela E. V. King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and H.E. Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh), in his role as President of the Security Council for the month of March.
 
  The centrepiece of the celebration of International Women’s Day 2000 will be the exchange of experiences by women who are making a difference in resolving conflicts in many regions of the world. Participants include such active non-governmental organizations as Women in Black (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia); the Women’s Media Collective (Sri Lanka); Children’s Peace Movement (Colombia); Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organisation (Sierra Leone); and International Alert (United Kingdom).  Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (United States of America) and Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, former member of the Human Rights Violations Committee at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), will address the gathering. Rosa Malango, a UN staff member who was part of the peacekeeping mission in Angola, will also speak.

    Daljit Dhaliwal, TV anchor at ITN in London, and Carol Jenkins, New York news anchor and talk show host, will moderate the Town Hall Meeting.  The forum will promote an exchange of ideas with a view to developing a common agenda for women’s participation in peacekeeping and peace-making efforts and strengthening women’s networks for peace. It will also highlight this important issue that is part of the agenda of the special session of the General Assembly: “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century” to be convened in New York from 5 to 9 June.

    The event will be held on Wednesday, 8 March, from 10:00 a.m. until 12 noon in Conference Room 4 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  It is co-sponsored by the UN Department of Public Information, the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the United Nations.

*   *   *   *   *

Journalists without UN credentials should fax a letter of assignment to (212) 963-4642, with a follow-up call to the UN Media Accreditation Unit at (212) 963-7164. For UN TV coverage, call 963-7650.

*   *   *   *   *

For further information, please contact Elisabeth Ruzicka-Dempsey, telephone (212) 963-1742, fax: (212) 963-1186, E-mail: ruzicka-dempsey@un.org, or Laufey Love, telephone: (212) 963-7704, fax: (212) 963-1186, E-mail: love@un.org, of the Development and Human Rights Section, UN Department of Public Information.

 



Biographical Information on Moderators and Non-UN Guest Speakers.
 

 MODERATORS:

 

Carol Jenkins, Carol Jenkins & Company, United States of America

Carol Jenkins is a well-known television personality in the New York area for her work as a news anchor, talk show host, reporter and producer.  Ms. Jenkins has now formed her own production company, Carol Jenkins & Company, producing entertainment as well as documentary programmes.  Ms. Jenkins has received numerous awards and honours, most for her work for the NBC flagship station in New York, WNBC-TV, where she co-anchored the 6 p.m. newscast. Her awards include an Emmy, UPI, and Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Ms. Jenkins' commitment to issues relating to children and women is undisputed. She sits on the boards of several major organizations, including: the Ms. Foundation for Women, which created the national programme "Take our Daughters to Work" and issues grants to women's projects around the United States; The National Centre for Learning Disabilities; SHARE, a self-help organization for women with breast and ovarian cancer; The Feminist Press, a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to restore to print the works of women writers; and the Board of Trustees of the College of New Rochelle, which offers innovative courses of study for its students, all of whom are women.

Ms. Jenkins' most recent assignments have included hosting her own talk show, Carol Jenkins Live, on the New York FOX station WNYW, where she also co-anchored the station's noon news broadcast.

 

Daljit Dhaliwal, ITN, United Kingdom

Ms. Daljit Dhaliwal anchors "World News for Public Television", an hour long programme of international news that is currently broadcast each week night on over 40 public television stations across the United States. The programme can also be seen on the internet.  Ms. Dhaliwal joined ITN in 1995. In addition to anchoring World News, she has been an occasional second anchor on the British network news programme, Channel Four News.

Ms. Dhaliwal began her career in TV journalism in 1990, when she joined the BBC as a regional news reporter trainee. During her 16-month secondment she reported for several newsrooms, including Northern Ireland, where she covered a wide range of stories relating to the “Troubles” before the IRA ceasefire.

Over the years she has interviewed world leaders such as Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader; Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan; and George Mitchell, United States Senator, about his role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

From 1993-95, Ms. Dhaliwal was a member of the presenting team of BBC World programming.
 

SPEAKERS:

Nora Ahmetaj, Women in Black, Albania

Ms. Nora Ahmetaj, from Albania, represents Women in Black, a network of women world-wide that oppose war and other forms of violence.  Women in Black is not an organization, but rather a formula for action that usually takes the form of women wearing black, standing in a public place in silent, non-violent vigils at regular times and intervals.

The black clothing symbolizes mourning for all the victims of wars, both past and present. The women’s silence symbolizes the fact that mere words cannot express the tragedy that wars and hatred bring. The vigils provide women with a format to actively support peace in a non-violent but dramatic and expressive way.

The vigils were started in Israel in 1988 by women protesting against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Today, Women in Black is a world wide movement but it is impossible to know how many groups, mailing lists or newsletters exist, or how many actions have been held.

Vigils have been held in countries all over the world, including at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.  Among ongoing activities are weekly vigils held in Republic Square in Belgrade, in opposition to the Serbian government’s involvement in aggression. Women in Black conferences and encounters have been held in Jerusalem in 1994, and in Novi Sad each August since 1994.
 

Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Women and Public Policy Program, Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University, United States

Ambassador Swanee Hunt is Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she also teaches. Prior to that appointment in 1997, she focused for a decade on American domestic policy, followed by four years as the Untied States Ambassador to Austria.

At the Kennedy School, Ambassador Hunt leads a new program emphasizing women’s role within the public policy process as citizen initiators of the policy agenda, as policy-makers in the process, and as clients affected by the outcome. Among other initiatives, she has planned conferences that focused on women in American foreign policy; establishing a global network of grassroots women working to stop wars; and the nexus of women, religion and public policy.

In Vienna, Ambassador Hunt extended her energies to the conflict in the neighboring Balkan states, hosting negotiations during the war, and several international symposia to focus efforts on securing the peace. However, it was with women leaders throughout Eastern Europe where much of her work was concentrated. After 40 regional trips, she became a specialist in the role of women in post-communist Europe, culminating in a major piece published in the journal Foreign Affairs; the July 1997 "Vital Voices: Women in Democracy" conference of 320 women leaders in business, law and politics, keynoted by Ms. Hillary Clinton; and the film documentary "Voices".

The Women Waging Peace initiative, led by Ambassador Hunt, is designed to bring the essential role and contribution of women in prevention of violent conflict, and in the reconstruction of peace, to the forefront.  Its aim is to close the gap between what happens at the policy table and activity at the grassroots level. The initiative demonstrates the power of partnership and interconnectedness, as well as the importance of structural changes necessary to bring the voices of women waging peace to policy shapers.

Women Waging Peace is envisaged as a sustainable, long-term approach to building and maintaining a global network. On an ongoing basis, individuals and small groups of women from particular conflict areas will come to Harvard to exchange ideas, and regional meetings of women waging peace are being planned world wide.

Raised in Dallas, for two decades Ambassador Hunt was a civic leader and philanthropist in her adopted city of Denver. She was a founder of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, helping raise a $10 million endowment to promote women’s economic self-sufficiency. Her own private foundation, the Hunt Alternatives Fund, has assisted over 400 neighborhood-based organizations over a 16-year span, addressing issues of poverty and discrimination.
 

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, former member of the Human Rights Violations Committee at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa

Ms. Gobodo-Madikizela, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is currently working on her research on perpetrators of atrocities. She is also in the process of writing a book entitled "The Cry of Apartheid's Crusader", about Eugene de Kock, also known as "Prime Evil", South Africa's most notorious perpetrator of atrocities during the apartheid era.

Ms. Gobodo-Madikizela served for two years as a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), where she coordinated the public hearings and outreach programmes for the TRC.  Ms. Gobodo-Madikezela's background in psychology and her wealth of experience as a practicing psychologist and social worker in South Africa, provided her with a good foundation for this important work, as well as for her role as an expert witness in human rights cases in South Africa.

She has published extensively on the work of the TRC, as well as on psychological issues, given numerous lectures, and has worked closely with a variety of NGOs and the United Nations.

Ms. Gobodo-Madikezela was a Bunting Fellow at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College at Harvard, 1998-1999.
 

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, Women and Media Collective, Sri Lanka

As a lawyer and a journalist, Ms. Kishali Pinto Jayawardena has worked extensively for the promotion of women’s rights through the law. She is an active member of the Women and Media Collective and serves on its Advisory Board.

The Women and Media Collective is a feminist organization based in Sri Lanka, committed to challenging existing stereotyped images of women, and working for a more complex and realistic representation of women in the media. The organization monitors and analyzes the reporting of violence against women in the media. Its work in this field has contributed to campaigns for a Domestic Violence Act and for safer and more woman-friendly public transport.

To promote peace in the conflict zones in the north and east of Sri Lanka, the Women and Media Collective works with women from the region’s different ethnic, linguistic and religious groups to develop more harmonious relations among them. In addition, the organization has collaborated with a women's network for peace and justice in Sri Lanka, called Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, and is coordinating the Sri Lanka Women's NGO Forum, which focus on the five-year review of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.

 The organization has published a feminist journal in both English and Sinhala, and worked with creative women writers and cultural workers in all three national languages.
 

Mayerly Sanchez (15 years old), The Children’s Movement for Peace, Colombia

Ms. Mayerly Sanchez represents the Children’s Movement for Peace in Colombia, founded in 1996 when children’s groups and organizations working for peace formed an alliance to increase understanding of the impact of war on children.

One of the first acts of the Movement was to mobilize children to vote in a special election, known as the Children’s Mandate for Peace and Rights, in which children were asked to choose which of their rights were most important to them and their communities. At first it was thought that no more that 300,000 children would take part in the election, but the Movement grew so quickly that more than 2.7 million children aged 7 to 18 years turned out at the polls. They voted overwhelmingly in favour of the right to survival and the right to peace.

The child rights election became the driving force behind a national peace movement that continued to gather strength. In 1997, over ten million adult Colombians supported a peace referendum that included backing for the Children’s Mandate, condemnation of the atrocities of war and a personal pledge to help make peace. As a result, peace jumped to centre state in the Colombian political arena. It became the primary issue in the presidential elections of 1998 and led to peace talks between the government and guerilla organizations.

Today, over 100,000 children are active participants in the peace movement. These include children who help other children overcome trauma of exposure to violence, avoid accidents with landmines and learn how to resolve conflicts. Children also speak to their parents, classmates, teachers, local government officials, the police, the media, and even the President about making peace.

Ms. Sanchez is 15 years old. She lives in Soacha, a poor area outside the southern limits of the city of Bogota, with her parents and older sister. They occupy two small rooms of a cement house and share the bathroom and kitchen with two other families.

“Peace begins with yourself, with the way you treat your family, your friends, your communities, your country -- but it does not stop there. Peace that begins in the hearts of children
can cover the whole world,” says Ms. Sanchez.

 

She is a forceful spokesperson for the Children’s Movement for Peace and especially of the power of children’s voices to change the way adults think and behave. “People never used to care about the war unless they were directly affected by it, but when children talk about pain and sorrow we make adults feel it as if it was their own,” she says.
 

Eugenia Pisa Lopez, International Alert, United Kingdom

Ms. Eugenia Pisa Lopez is the Policy Director for International Alert, an action-based non-governmental organization committed to the prevention and resolution of violent internal conflict. The organization, based in the United Kingdom, was founded in 1985 by a group of human rights advocates, including Martin Ennals, the former Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The organization seeks to support and strengthen local initiatives and capacities within conflict ridden societies to build peace by promoting mutual respect, cooperation and understanding. It sees the protagonists in a conflict, and the citizens whom it affects, as the primary actors in its resolution and seeks to empower them to make peace.

In this effort International Alert works with individuals and organizations from different levels and sectors of society with a capacity to contribute to a constructive transformation of the conflict. These may include non-governmental and grassroots organizations and political, economic, social, cultural, research, academic, military and religious institutions and the private sector.

International Alert currently runs peace-building programmes in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Sri Lanka, West Africa and the Caucasus, and advocacy programmes which seek to address the underlying causes of conflict.

One of International Alert’s programmes is a campaign, launched with over 100 other NGOs, called "Women Building Peace: From the Village Council to the Negotiation Table". The campaign aims to promote the importance of ensuring a central role for women in conflict transformation and peace-building processes, and to remind governments of the commitments they made to take action in this regard at the United Nations Fourth World Conference for Women, held in Beijing in 1995.

The campaign aims to raise global awareness of women’s experiences and perspectives on peace and conflict, and to help women better realize their potential as peace-builders from the village to the national level.  It seeks to affect the policy of international agencies and strives for a greater commitment to gender considerations in peace-building and conflict transformation, and to include women on all levels of peace processes.
 

Adiatu Teresa Deigh, The Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organization (SLYEO), Sierra Leone
 
Ms. Deigh, currently a student at the Milton Margai College of Education, has been actively involved with the Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organization since 1995.

Ms. Deigh, served as one of two youth representatives at the National Consultative Conference on the democratic process in 1995 and 1996. At last year’s meeting of the National Consultative Conference, which focused mainly on the Abidjan Accord, she presented a position statement on behalf of the Youth of Sierra Leone. The statement drew attention to issues her country’s youth found to be crucial to the peace process.

This last year, Ms. Deigh has worked as a trauma counsellor in her native country, Sierra Leone, where she and other counsellors have sought to assist victims of violence, with a particular focus on young female victims. In addition, she has been actively involved in the promotion of the Peace Accord and Rapid Rural Appraisal.
 

DPI/DHR/LL/2 March 00