Bangkok, Thailand – A doctor providing maternal healthcare in conflict areas in Myanmar, a man working to end child marriage and menstruation taboos in Nepal, and a young activist campaigning for peace in Afghanistan are among the winners of this year’s N-Peace Awards, given out by the United Nations Development Programme in Asia and the Pacific.
The annual N-Peace Awards shine a spotlight on extraordinary activists, campaigners, and advocates in Asia and the Pacific who are championing the role of women in peacebuilding efforts and working to ensure that issues affecting women are addressed at local and national levels.
This year’s winners were announced to coincide with the launch of the United Nation’s global #HearMeToo campaign to prevent violence against women and girls.
Established in 2010, N-Peace strengthens the role of women in peace-building and conflict resolution, operating across seven countries: Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
“This year’s winners are notable for their determined efforts to change the landscape of inequitable gender relations during and post conflict, particularly when it comes to sexual violence, and access to justice, services, and information,” said Valerie Cliff, Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific and Director of Bangkok Regional Hub.
“One of the primary purposes of the N-Peace Awards is to amplify women’s voices, and show how their meaningful participation in peace and security efforts can be the key to unlocking inclusive, peaceful, and sustainable societies.”
There are three categories for the awards: Untold Stories, Campaigning for Action, and Peace Generation. The ‘Untold Stories Award’ category recognizes the efforts of women who have demonstrated skills in conflict resolution, prevention, and peace building in their local communities. The Campaigning for Action award recognizes two individuals – one woman and one man – who are contributing to the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at leadership, policy, and decision-making levels. The Peace Generation Award annually recognizes the work of youth who have demonstrated volunteerism as a powerful means of promoting social cohesion, reconciliation, and gender equality.
Candidates for the awards are nominated through an open process. N-Peace received 56 nominations this year, of which 35 were cleared for online voting. Online voting was opened on the 20th of September and closed on the 22nd of October 2018. Over this period of time, 7,497 members of the general public registered to vote, and a total of 5,557 votes were verified and cast from over 98 countries. The N-Peace social media campaign that ran alongside the voting process also provided insight into the community support of each individual. The hashtag #NPeaceAwards had 1,602,238 timeline deliveries and reached 892,860 people on Twitter during this period.
Candidates with the most online votes and/or social media support were shortlisted and submitted to a panel of expert judges for final review. This year’s judges were Steve Killelea and David Hammond (Institute for Economics and Peace), Barbara Navarro (Google Asia Pacific), Prakash Jha (Indian film producer and director), Vrinda Grover (human rights activist), and Leymah Gbowee (Liberian Peace Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner).
Previous winners have included human rights activist and former political prisoner Wai Wai Nu from Myanmar, Pakistan’s globally recognized preventing violent extremism expert Mossarat Qadeem, and Habiba Sarabi, Deputy Chair of the Afghanistan High Peace Council.
This year's winners are as follows:
Afghanistan: Khojasta Sameyee is recognised for her work in media, using open media broadcasting to inform local and remote communities in the Balkh province of women’s rights, politics, and peacebuilding. Through her work, she is bringing much needed visibility to women’s voices and experiences in conflict-affected areas.
Indonesia: Mira Kusumarini is awarded for her role as a leading member of the civil society movement in preventing violent extremism, promoting peace through dialogues and education. Working actively with children and women deportees to reintegrate them safely into society, Mira is at the forefront of deradicalisation efforts.
Myanmar: Cynthia Maung is praised for her work developing a system of providing emergency maternal healthcare in vulnerable and/or conflict situations. With women particularly affected by a lack of access to healthcare services, her important work has made an incredible impact on hundreds of thousands of people.
Nepal: Logshari Kunwar is congratulated as one of the few women journalists active in the Kailali district of Nepal covering gender-based violence, and women’s rights. She has been uncovering women’s stories of injustice amid adversity, providing a much needed spotlight for gendered issued.
Pakistan: Mahira Miyanji is commended for her dedication to providing and advocating for the education of girls in Lyari, Karachi. She has been tirelessly campaigning for gendered social attitudes against girls’ education to change and providing women and girls with the opportunity for future financial empowerment.
the Philippines: Samira Gutoc-Tomawis is commended for using leadership position in government to advocate for the rights of women and members of marginalized groups in conflict-affected Marawi.
Sri Lanka: Visaka Dharmadasa is awarded for engaging women from different ethnicities in Sri Lanka to have dialogues around peacebuilding, and working with women so that they become more active and confident participants in peacebuilding efforts.
Campaigning for Action
Hira Singh Thapa is celebrated for communicating to Nepali men their responsibility to help change gendered attitudes, and end child marriage, domestic violence, and ‘chauupadi’ which isolates menstruating women from their homes.
Mary Akrami is distinguished for her work establishing the first ever shelter for women at risk of violence in Afghanistan, and for her continued work establishing peace ‘shuras’ – a lifeline for women seeking conflict resolution for issues including domestic violence.
Muqadasa Ahmadzai is applauded for her grassroots community activism, encouraging combatants to renounce violence, and organizing a network of over 400 young women activists throughout Nangarhar in Afghanistan province to support survivors of domestic violence.
N-Peace would like to congratulate all 10 winners on their fantastic achievements.
Follow the 16 Days Campaign to learn more about how N-Peace and UNDP are ending gender-based violence and recognizing the importance of women’s leadership in times of conflict.
More on N-Peace here: http://n-peace.net/
Mailee Osten-Tan (firstname.lastname@example.org)