22 January 2013

Liberia: Women Advocates Swarm Liberia - Leymah Gbowee In Host Chair

The tidal wave of feminism sweeping across the global community has had a particular bearing on the postwar mosaic of Africa's oldest republic, Liberia, in a number of ways. The country broke continental record with the election of the first female president some seven years ago, and less than a year ago produced twin female Nobel laureates. In another feminist watershed, Liberia is playing host to an assembly of distinguished female leaders expected to showcase the struggle for women employment and advocacy. The Analyst reports.

Monrovia is alight this week by the presence of distinguished women activists of international repute, including a couple of Nobel laureates. Liberia's own Leymah Gbowee, who are President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf jointly won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, is hosting throngs of women from the United States, Canada, and other countries.

The visitors, according to a release from Laureate Gbowee's foundation include four Nobel Peace Laureates, journalists, businesswomen, global and grassroots women's rights activists and philanthropists who will stay in the country for six days.

During the nearly weeklong visit, the women, under the banner of the international organization Nobel Women's Initiative will meet with a wide range of non-governmental women's groups, UN personnel, Youth & Student Leaders, the Women Legislative Caucus and other high-level government officials, Women Peace-builders in Totota & Weala, Bong County, amongst others.

The world leaders are also expected to give audience to Liberian women working towards peace and reconciliation in the country, particularly on sexual violence issues. The women delegates, according to the release, hope to take back home a greater understanding of the important contributions women are making to sustainable peace in Liberia, as well as the challenges women face.

Delegates will communicate what they learn to international policy makers, including those in the US, Canada and Europe.

The delegation is organized by the Nobel Women's Initiative, an organization created by women Nobel Peace Laureates who support the work of women forging peace in conflict and post-conflict areas of the world.

A pro-women group, the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA), is hosting the delegation. The organization's President, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee, is a member of the Nobel Women's Initiative, and Co-Chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.

The host, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker and women's rights advocate. She is Founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She worked as head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative until 2012.

Amongst the distinguished visitors is Jody Williams, Chair of Nobel Women's Initiative USA. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban antipersonnel landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). She is an outspoken peace activist. Since January of 2006, Jody Williams has worked to achieve her peace work as chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

Another delegate, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Chair of Nobel Women's Initiative

was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, with Betty Williams, for her actions to end the political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. Together with journalist Ciaran McKeown they founded Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and peaceful society through nonviolent social action. She travels regularly to Israel and Palestine to work with peace activists in the region.

Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi is Nobel Women's Initiative of the United Kingdom awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights - in particular, the rights of women, children, and political prisoners in Iran. She was one of the first female judges in Iran and was the first Iranian woman to achieve Chief Justice status. She has also established many non-governmental organizations in Iran.

Ann Patterson of Trustee, Peace People of Northern Ireland is also part of the delegation. A family therapist at the Quaker Center in Belfast, Ann works to provide counseling and support for families from divided communities. During the peace process in Northern Ireland, Ann worked with imprisoned paramilitaries from both sides, preparing them to enter into peace talks. Ann has since travelled extensively, acting as an independent observer in numerous countries in conflict including Colombia, Rwanda and Uganda.

Another delegate is Lauren Embrey, CEO/President, Embrey Family Foundation, USA, who currently serves as Vice Chair of the Women Moving Millions Initiative. She is a member of the Women's Donor Network, the Women's Leadership Board at the Kennedy Center at Harvard University and the Global Philanthropist Circle. She is a supporter of the Nobel Women's Initiative. Lauren produced the US premiere of Truth in Translation in 2007 and is Executive Producer for the documentary Playground, a film on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in America.

Included in the delegation is Lisa VeneKlasen, Executive Director, JASS (Just Associates) USA, co-founder and director of Just Associates (JASS), an international feminist organization working in 28 countries through JASS' regional networks in Mesoamerica, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.

Lynne Twist, President, Soul of Money Institute, USA, is also part of the women delegation. Lynne is a global activist, consultant, speaker, and award-winning author of The Soul of Money, and has dedicated her life to global initiatives that create a sustainable future for all. She co-founded the Pachamama Aliiance and is the founder and president of the Soul of Money Institute. She is a co-creator of the global media campaign, four years ago.

Also in the delegation is Margot Pritzker, Chair, Zohar Education Project Incorporated and President and Founder, WomenOnCall.org. USA. Margot is a Board Trustee of the Aspen Institute, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the International Board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, and the Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation. She is also the chair of the University of Chicago Charter School Governing Board.

Still others include: Nancy Word Co-Founder, Impact Austin, USA, Nancy retired from a successful 33-year career in information technology as a Vice President for Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). She then co-founded Impact Austin. Nancy has served on the Board of The Container Store and is now on the Board of Trustees of Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Nancy is a supporter of the Nobel Women's Initiative.

Sara Vetter of Soul of Money Institute, USA, who works full time with the Soul of Money Institute and The Pachamama Alliance after over a decade in Advertising Sales. She is also currently working with The Awakening The Dreamer Symposium, a worldwide transformational educational experience that empowers participants to respond to humanities current situation with action and informed grounded optimism about our future.

Sarah Cavanaugh Curator, Jini Dellaccio Collection, USA. Sarah has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 17 years in a variety of issue areas including the arts, leadership development, environment, and children's health. She currently works as curator of the Jini Dellaccio Collection, preserving and promoting the work of a 96-year-old master artist. She also serves as trustee and past president of The Russell Family Foundation and as a board director of the National Center for Family Philanthropy. She is a trustee of the Merwin Conservancy and co-founder and past president of Treeswing. Sarah is a Nobel Women's Initiative supporter.

Seema Mathur, Freelance Journalist, USA, Seema Mathur founded Global Voice Productions in 2009. Seema has earned numerous awards for her reporting including a National Edward R. Murrow, a Lone Star Emmy and three Texas Associated Press Awards. Her international experience includes coordinating coverage around the world for CNN's International desk. She has also reported on access to healthcare in Uganda, the state of orphaned children in India, and women's rights in Morocco. In the US, Seema spent a number of years covering health issues for which she has earned 12 awards.

The delegation arrived Friday, January 18, and on Saturday, had orientation session, visited to Rockhill Community before having welcome dinner in honor hosted by the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa

Itinerary released by the conference secretariat, a copy in possession of The Analyst, states that on Sunday, January 20, the attended a church service at the St. Peter's Lutheran Church and had a lunch with Trauma Healing Experts before touring scenic Ducor and Hotel Africa and a dinner with Liberian Anti-Rape & Muslim Activists.

Today, Monday, January 21, there is expected to be the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa & ActionAid Roundtable on women rights in development and a meeting with Liberian Women's Empowerment Network and a lunch with Liberian Women Legislative Caucus. The delegates will break out with some visiting St. Joseph Catholic Hospital & Black-Gate, Monrovia Central Prison and Dinner with Liberian Youth & Student Leaders.

On Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 22, the delegation will travel to travel to Totota, Bong County to have a meeting with Women Peace-Builders in Totota at Peace Hut, tour and meet with other Women Peace-Builders in Bong County before returning to Monrovia for dinner at leisure at 7.

Wednesday, January 23, the delegation will hold a series of meetings with government officials and International Institutions, while on Thursday, January Nobel Laureates Press Conference with Liberian Media, to be followed by shopping expedition.

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