Nairobi — The Joan Kroc Institute of the University of San Diego in the United States of America has awarded National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Commissioner Alice Nderitu, as a woman Peace-Maker of the Year.
The award recognises her human rights and peace building work in Kenya and also in the region.
The award also recognised her for spearheading the UWIANO platform in 2010, which is also now being used as an alert system for the country during the up-coming elections in 2013.
While receiving the awards, Nderitu said: "I am a child of these two worlds and the need to bring the two together is urgent."
With rich and varied experience in both worlds, Nderitu has been an essential leader in preventing and transforming conflict in her native Kenya.
In the aftermath of Kenya's notorious 2007-2008 post-election violence, Nderitu joined the newly created NCIC to mediate ethnic and race-related conflict and promote peaceful coexistence.
As a mediator and a human rights and ethnic relations specialist for NCIC, Nderitu leads and builds mediation teams in Kenya's conflict hotspots and most specifically displayed exceptional leadership in promoting strategies on conflict prevention in the 2010 referendum through the Uwiano Platform for Peace.
Often working within traditional structures, she brings elders from conflicting ethnic groups together to dialogue and defuse communal tensions, while challenging traditions and pushing for women to be included in the rigidly male-dominated elder institution.
Similar to her work in Kenya's highest official levels, Nderitu is often the only woman at the peace table with the elders.
With NCIC, Nderitu has developed peace education curricula, pushed for the implementation of laws on hate speech and hate crime, and directed a nationwide television show discussing ethnic differences and conflict.
She has also taken her conflict prevention lessons outside of Kenya to South Sudan in preparation for their referendum on independence.
Prior to her role as an NCIC commissioner, Nderitu worked as a prison officer, a teacher and a reporter before joining the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in 2003 as its first staff member.
There, she created and headed the commission's human rights education department and pioneered the first human rights curriculum for public officers and worked to bring the human rights agenda into prisons work.
For several years, Nderitu has been training law enforcement and military officers on civil-military cooperation and the rule of law at the International Military Peace Support Training College and at the Rwanda Military Academy.
She also directed the Education for Social Justice Program for Fahamu, a UK-based charity, facilitating human rights and conflict prevention training for civil society in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Uganda.
"The spectre of ethnic-related violence...looms in Kenya's upcoming elections," she said about Kenya's presidential elections scheduled for March 2013.
She watched the violence of the last election temporarily bring her two worlds together - peace-builders and human rights practitioners - to campaign for peace, but she is determined to unite them as a stronger force to prevent conflict, not just respond when it erupts.
"We do not have the luxury of waiting for a crisis," she emphasised.