From Patricia Smith Melton, founder, celebrating Peace X Peace as a catalyst for raising women’s voices
Dear peacebuilding friends, old and new,
Embracing the changes that have occurred since I founded Peace X Peace, I am also embracing my future in the Here Now. I have started a blog!
Titled “Traveling Light,” it gives me the opportunity to write about all the things I find intriguing, compelling, enraging, needed, hopeful, and thrilling. It will be spiritual for those of you consciously on that path, it will be irreverent for those of you who have wanted to know what I say without the strictures of being proper, and it will contain the experience and wisdom of a “woman of a certain age.” And it will be fun, humorous, and daring. And include interviews with people doing great things for our world. Join me.
It was twelve years ago, soon after September 11, 2001, that Peace X Peace was founded on the principle that sustainable peace is possible only when women’s voices are heard and honored and women’s wisdom, born of real life experience, is incorporated into social planning. Rule by men alone was clearly disastrous.
The stifling inequality had to change. So one of our first tasks was to make people aware that women’s wisdom was not being heard and our work, the glue that heals cultures and holds communities together, was belittled, dismissed as “women’s work.”
So I gathered a documentary team around me and we headed off to Afghanistan, Burundi, Bosnia, Argentina, and NYC. The resulting documentary, Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines, debuted at the United Nations and was aired on PBS and around the world.
Simultaneously we began the Peace X Peace Global Network, the first social network connecting women to women through the Internet. We joined women across cultures for private conversations so they could connect, communicate, learn, work together, and reach a global tipping point of like-minded people, led by women for women and men and children and the planet. The term “online social network” had not yet been invented.
Over the next 11 years Peace X Peace was both a leader and in the middle of a massive wave of change as women’s presence and power rose, and women organized on a huge scale for rights and good governance, from African nations to Asian nations to the Middle East and almost everywhere, as women took leadership in media and received Nobel Peace Prizes. No longer are women’s voices not heard, no longer is it questioned that women are instrumental in peace accords and peace implementation. We are recognized not only as valuable but as vital.
Women everywhere are now connected, and innumerable organizations at every level are focused on women. Women run them and women, individually and through them their families, are the beneficiaries of their education and opportunities.
The goal of Peace X Peace to connect women and raise their voices and power is in action now around us. This is a sea change.
I take this moment to express my immense gratitude to the evolving Peace X Peace team, from the initial “down and dirty” start-up team of 2002 to our current CEO Kimberly Weichel, whose expertise and leadership the past three years has been invaluable in creating mentorship and dialogue programs, supporting a national action plan to implement UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security in the US, and guiding our dedicated staff.
A special thank you also to Gail Montplaisir, our stalwart dedicated board chair of the past five years who has been with us from the beginning through our evolution as the world changed. We’ve been in the trenches together and on the mountains.