Honoring Women of Power and Peace
-by Mary Liston Liepold
Editor in Chief
Monday evening December 5, at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, DC, our Peace X Peace annual awards spotlighted the many facets of Women, Power, and Peace. The evening began with an informal reception where award winners mingled with attendees to the strains of music by DC’s own LEA.
First on the formal program was Patricia Smith’s original Women, Power, and Peace…at play. Awardees Louise Diamond and Sahar Taman, speaking their own words, joined four actresses from the Woolly troupe who voiced the words of 26 other women around the world, while their images were projected above the stage. These peace exemplars ranged from Hillary Clinton, Yoko Ono, current and past Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and former Women, Power, and Peace awardees, to a subsistence farmer and mother of five in Sudan and a schoolgirl in Canada. Their narratives alternated with relevant data points and our founder’s own reflections, gathered for the blog in We Are Rising, and It Feels Good.
Next the six winners took turns receiving their awards and offering brief remarks. Diamond sounded the keynote in hers, when she stepped away from the podium and her notes to show how a woman in Sarajevo located her own power in her heart. Palestinian Laura Boushnak described seeking out subjects for her photography whose stories have not yet been told.
In accepting the Peace Philanthropy Award for the Global Fund for Women, Board member Gay McDougall noted that the Fund has provided grant support for two of the three 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipients. Claire Charamnac, representing her friend and co-founder and Generation Peace Awardee Claire Naylor, pointed out how much Claire has accomplished at the age of 22. “Imagine what she may do in the next 10 years!”
Women LEAD, the organization co-founded by Claire and Claire, does its work in Nepal. Both of the remaining awards honored work to heal hostility or misunderstanding between the Arab and Muslim world and the West. Sande Hart, founder of the California-based Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope, or S.A.R.A.H., was inspired by the aftermath of September 11, 2001. S.A.R.A.H.’s record of dialogue, service, education, and collaboration earned the Community Peacebuilder Award.
Sahar Taman, selected for the Connection Point Award, brought the awards segment of the program to an emotional close with her appeal for the use of religion as a bridge to understanding, rather than a gulf leading to conflict.
Following the awards was a screening of one of the new Catalyst videos, Friends against the Wall, featuring Palestinian comedy performer Ihsan Turkieh and Israeli physician Aliza Savir. As the two women clasp hands and pledge that their grandsons will not grow up in a divided nation, they repeat “Enough is enough.”
CEO Kim Weichel bade audience, awardees, and sponsors good night with a call to support Peace X Peace in building cooperation and ending war. She quoted the artist Huong, featured in Patricia Smith’s theater piece: “Tell me what you do, and I will tell you what you can do for peace.”
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