Women Ambassadors of Peace and Humanitarian Causes
This month we are featuring women who have promoted peace and humanitarian causes, in honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21st.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein is known for her commitment to humanitarian causes. In her role as a UN Messenger of Peace, she is dedicated to helping raise global awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
Princess Haya founded Tikyet Um Ali (TUA) in her native Jordan, the first Arab NGO dedicated to overcoming local hunger. TUA provides food assistance and employment opportunities to thousands of poor families. In November 2012, TUA announced a campaign to quadruple the number of its beneficiaries in a drive to eliminate hunger in Jordan and help meet the MDGs on hunger by 2015. Princess Haya also chairs Dubai’s International Humanitarian City, now the world’s largest operational center for the delivery of aid both in emergencies and for long-term development.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is a pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma (now Myanmar) who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest for undermining the Burmese government and promoting human rights and democracy. In their 1990 general election, her party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in parliament but she was unable to serve due to her imprisonment. Throughout her life she has opposed the use of any violence in her aim to establish a society which allowed the country’s ethnic groups to cooperate peacefully. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her work.
Jane Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era and is regarded as the founder of the social work profession in the United States. She promoted the needs of children, women, and public health. During World War I, she and other women from assorted nations met at the International Congress of Women at The Hague in 1915 to attempt to stop the war. She maintained her pacifist stance after the United States entered the war in 1917, working to found the Women's Peace Party, which became the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. She was the WILPF's first president. As a result of her work, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Rigoberta Menchú Tum is an indigenous Guatemalan woman of the Mayan Quiché ethnic group who became involved in the women’s rights movement as a teenager. After suffering many personal familial tragedies due to government oppression, Menchú dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country. As a result, she faced death threats and was forced into exile from her home country. She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and is currently a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the current President of Liberia and the first elected female head of state in Africa. Born in Liberia in 1938, she was educated in the United States before serving in the government of her native Liberia. A military coup in 1980 sent her into exile, but she returned in 1985 to speak out against the violent and oppressive military regime. She returned again in 1997 as an economist working for the World Bank and Citibank in Africa. She won the presidency in 2005 after promising economic development and an end to corruption and civil war. In 2011, she was one of a trio of women to win the Nobel Peace Prize for their nonviolent struggle for women’s rights to participate in peace-building work.