PRESS BRIEFING BY UN DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR WOMEN ON MILLENNIUM PEACE PRIZE
The winners of a new award -- the Millennium Peace Prize for Women -- were announced by Noeleen Heyzer, Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), at a press briefing today as part of Headquarters' activities commemorating International Women’s Day.
The purpose of the prize, which was sponsored by UNIFEM and International Alert, was to recognize leadership that was often neither recognized nor rewarded, yet was essential to holding communities together and to building peace from the community to the negotiating table, Ms. Heyzer explained. While UNIFEM supported women’s leadership in times of peace, it also believed such leadership must be supported in times of crisis and in times of war.
The award winners, through their life stories and their commitment, had been at the forefront of peace efforts in their countries, in their communities and worldwide. They had built peace through resistance to violence, and through the creation of space in which dialogue could take place across ethnicities. They were responsible for holding the fabric of society together, and for rebuilding trust across fractured communities.
The awards would be presented this evening, she said, at a ceremony at which major chefs from around the world would come together in New York and prepare recipes for peace.
Ms. Heyzer announced the following recipients of the inaugural Millennium Peace Prize for Women:
-- Dr. Flora Brovina (Kosovo), who is the founder and President of the Albanian Women’s League of Kosovo; a non-governmental, non-political organization set up to promote and protect the human rights of ethnic Albanian women and to help them become economically independent. Before and during the conflict in Kosovo, she worked closely with Serbian organizations, and the League now operates joint projects for Serbs and Albanians, and runs workshops to promote tolerance.
-- Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani (Pakistan), sisters and joint-recipients who have been at the forefront of the movements for women’s rights, human rights and peace in Pakistan. In 1981, they established the first all-women’s law firm in Pakistan, and they have also been involved with the Women’s Action Forum, with the first free legal aid centre in Pakistan, and with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Ms. Jahangir is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. Ms. Jilani is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders, and Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
-- Veneranda Nzambazamariya (Rwanda), an outstanding leader in the Rwandan women’s movement, and a founder and driving force behind many major Rwandan non-governmental organizations working for peace, such as the Reseau des Femmes, the Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, and the Campagne Action pour la Paix. Ms. Nzambazamariya died in an air crash in January 2000.
-- Women in Black (International), a worldwide network of women against war, violence and militarism, which organizes women-only non-violent silent demonstrations and protests. It was started in Israel in 1988 by American, Israeli and Palestinian women to protest against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It now operates internationally. Women in Black in Belgrade will accept the award on behalf of the international organization.
-- Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres (Colombia), a coalition of women’s organizations working towards conflict-resolution in Colombia. It acts as a national referee in the conflict zone and aims to ensure that women’s plans for peace and coexistence reach the ears of national and international policy makers.
-- Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency (Papua New Guinea), a keystone of peace negotiations and reconstruction in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, since the mid 1990s. In 1992, under the slogan “Women Weaving Bougainville Together”, the Agency began working to rebuild community trust on the strife-torn island. It has initiated anti-violence workshops in Bougainville, aimed at helping young people understand that the guns and violence they know from their childhood are not necessarily part of their futures.
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