Since 1981, the United Nations has observed September 21 as a Day of Peace. It is a day that reminds us to “commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”
This year, the focus is on spreading peace in the midst of insecurity. In accordance with the theme Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All, we decided to highlight outstanding young women who are promoting the culture of peace in their communities. We put out a global call for nominations, and the women listed below were selected to be featured.
Varsha Thebo, 24
Varsha has worked to promote peace and equality through various ways in Atlanta, Cambodia, Greece, United States of America and Pakistan. She has worked with several refugee school projects and domestic violence shelters during her time in Atlanta where she regularly spent time with young Burmese girls at the Global Village Project, took them out for excursion and discussed the importance of higher education with them. Through her organization SARTY, Varsha brings young rural women in one of the most neglected areas in Pakistan together irrespective of their religious or socio-economic backgrounds to address the same issues facing all the women in the region. She has collaborated with private schools and colleges to bring young women to have sessions with the girls in the villages. This helped dispel the myths from both sides and inspired a sisterhood among them. She is promoting peace by teaching young girls and their communities that women deserve and need to be treated with respect and dignity in order to have peace in the community.
Varsha has been an inspiration to many girls across the globe for her efforts to promote peace and interfaith harmony. She was the one and only recipient of the United Nations Academic Impact/UNHATE Foundation Peace Award from Pakistan. She was one of the ten people globally who were trusted with the ability to bridge the gaps between Muslims and Hindus in the rural areas in Sindh. She organized incredible workshops, designed a syllabus with passages from the Holy Scriptures signifying the importance of unity and love for everyone that is present in every religion. Her successful project implementation brought more than 100 families together.
OWERRI, IMO, NIGERIA
Uchechi through her work with Forward Africa, an NGO she works with has been working with various relevant stakeholders within Imo State Government, the general public, private, CSOs sector and donor agencies, developing and proposing concepts for partnerships and drawing out intervention plans for civic participation and youth programming and peace coliation between youth networks in the state. She is greatly involved in community mobilization activities aimed at creating awareness on issues affecting young people in the state.
GUDU, ABUJA, NIGERIA
Omowumi is promoting peace by embarking on an initiative that gives a voice to victims of domestic abuse, while also providing them with medical and legal services free of charge. Ms Omowumi initiated The Prison Empowerment and Education Project (PEEP) in response to the increasing crime rate in Nigeria particularly Ekiti State which was as a result of a recycling criminal justice administration system.. Having identified the need to design an initiative she was able to have one hundred inmates trained on various skills alongside basics in core subjects like English, Mathematics and social studies in the first phase. The huge success and wide impact of the first phase notwithstanding the limited resources utilized, earned the partnership of two non-governmental orgs, the support of Eco bank plc, Ekiti state and Ekiti state Branch of National directorate of Employment.
FCT, ABUJA, NIGERIA
Last year, during and after her final year exams, Fatima spent her days teaching at IDP camps in and around Abuja. I was lucky to be with her on one of such days as she taught a class of young 5-8 year old and vividly she spoke to them in Hausa saying “This is not the end. Anything that you would like to become, you can become.” And the kids began screaming out all their ambitions to her. Beyond that, Fatima despite having not created any major organisation by herself, has worked with several organizations like BRING back Our Girls, The Book Bank Nigeria and UNFPA to further causes which she is passionate about like education and women’s rights all in the ultimate service of peace to humanity.
Angela Uyi is a peace Advocate beyond the social media. She have been in the Southern Kaduna for a while now and conflicting areas in the Northern part of Nigeria. Her current campaign is tagged Project11 which comprises ELEVEN DAYS of creating awareness on the need to embrace peace, foster unity and harmony amongst us. She is the convener of Project 11 and 1000 walk for Peace event slated in September 11-21 an event culminating with the International Day of Peace. She is a courageous lady.
Isi is promoting peace by participating in activities that are aimed at women’s participation in decision making and peace building through her organisation WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) Nigeria project. She has also coordinated an NGO Coalition in drafting a Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) shadow report with focus on women peace and security. She represented WILPF Nigeria at the 2017 meeting in Geneva to brief the CEDAW Committee during the Nigeria periodic report where she formally presented the shadow report.
MAIDUGURI, BORNO, NIGERIA
Fatimah conducts advocacy, sensitization and mobilization of the public on the culture of peace, peace building through peaceful co-existence which includes voter education and awareness, capacity building programme on illicit drugs control, drugs abuse, illegal weapons, and political violence. She tries to promote peaceful transformational resolution and economic empowerment in the communities.
We celebrate these #StrongEnoughGirls and pray that all of our efforts continue to translate into greater and sustained peace in the world. We are #YouthsForPeace!