March is Women’s History Month, which gives us the occasion to remember the impact of women change-makers like Mary Hoxie Jones, Saralee Hamilton, and Marjorie Nelson, who shaped the American Friends Service Committee’s work for peace around the world during the past century. We have been lucky to work with so many women peace-builders over the last 96 years. We are continually inspired and grateful for their service.

This is also a moment to remember and celebrate the global movement of women peace-builders whose effective, creative work to end violence and heal communities is too often marginalized and forgotten. Women like Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, a frequent partner of AFSC in Africa, whose work for peace was deeply grounded in her Muslim faith. She transformed violent conflict in countries around the world. At home in Kenya, when violence erupted after the 2007 elections, she was one of the people responsible for averting a civil war. 

The world is best able to benefit from the contributions of women like Dekha Ibrahim Abdi when they are actively included in formal peace-building conversations at local and international levels. Women and children bear the burden of war, and those seeking to make peace need to hear their message that peace is not only possible and practical, but imperative.

This month we also honor those young women unafraid to stand up for their rights and to follow their consciences. Their audacity gives me hope. These young people follow in the footsteps of generations of courageous activists—men and women—who have worked tirelessly to make lasting peace and justice a reality.

Here are a few examples of young women speaking truth to power and bringing together communities to address important barriers to peace and justice:

  • Putri Pamela Powell, an intern with AFSC in North Carolina, shares her personal immigration story about coming to the United States from Indonesia as a young, Muslim woman.
  • Jasmine Murphy, part of AFSC’s youth leadership group in rural West Virginia, shared her story of growing up with a father in prison at a recent lobbying day to address child poverty.
  • Erin Polley, a community organizer with AFSC in Indiana and a new mom, coordinates our national youth film festival, “If I Had a Trillion Dollars.”

I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on these stories and on those of the many everyday heroines you know who are working for peace and justice in your communities. If you feel so inspired, please visit our Facebook page to tell us who you’re celebrating this month.

In Peace,

Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

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