On April 30, MMEG was delighted to host a discussion on “Why We Need Women Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones” featuring two recent grantees, Lima Ahmad and Singmila Shimrah. Both women work to create and sustain peace in conflict-afflicted communities in their home regions, Afghanistan and Nagaland, respectively. The forum was moderated by Karen Mathiasen, Former U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank Group and currently an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Karen opened the discussion by noting that studies show that the influence of women in the peace-building process is profound; peace achieved with the involvement of women tends to persist 30% longer when women are included.
Lima Ahmad is an FY18 grantee now graduating with a master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Tufts University, where she has just been accepted for a PhD program. Her focus is on international security and women, especially as it relates to peace-building efforts in Afghanistan. Lima has worked on involving Afghani women in the peace process, in land reform issues and in improving the prison system for females. She told us that the impetus for her studies comes from having lost some 50 friends and relatives in conflict in Afghanistan. Her goal is to ensure that security and peace-building efforts include women at the bargaining table, not at the door as token representatives.
Singmila Shimrah received a MMEG grant in FY17 to support her work toward a doctorate at George Mason University. Singmila is studying international relations and diplomacy, specializing in conflict analysis and resolution especially as it relates to Naga women’s participation in conflict resolution to enable more durable peace in South Asia. As a social worker, she veered away from the medical career her family envisioned toward giving voice and agency to women involved in peace-building and conflict resolution.
Also attending was a newly-minted, FY19 grant recipient studying conflict resolution at Duke. Asha Asokan. Asha worked in South Sudan as a Child Protection Officer and focuses on bringing women as well as young people into the decision-making process in conflict-affected countries.
Singmila and Lima spoke with passion and intelligence about their work and their commitment to the cause of building and sustaining peace in a conflict-ridden world, an area that is male- dominated and intimidating especially in their home countries. They and Asha are testament to the exceptionality of MMEG grantees. As Padmini Mahurkar, chairperson of the volunteer selection committee, said at the event’s close, “it is gratifying for us as committee members to see, hear, and meet you and know that we did well to choose you and continue to support the good work that you do.” MMEG board members heartily agree and continue to be very proud of all of our grantees who are truly making a difference in today’s conflict-ridden world.