As we celebrate this holiday season with hopes for peace on earth and good will towards men, it is important to recognize the important role that women are currently playing in making these hopes a reality. In a speech last year at Georgetown University, Hillary Clinton spoke of the growing body of evidence that shows how "women around the world contribute to making and keeping peace, and that these contributions lead to better outcomes for entire societies".
I often portray women as peacemakers in my paintings. Sometimes they appear as angels, universal figures who symbolize faith, hope, knowledge, light and love. These women are often seen embracing, protecting and nurturing others, and represent all cultures and faith traditions.
Of the 42 million refugees worldwide today, 80% are women, children and young people. They receive little or no education, are most often unable to earn a livelihood, and are targets of exploitation and abuse. Founded in 1989 by Liv Ullmann, Catherine O'Neill, Susan Martin and others, The Women's Refugee Commission is dedicated to providing long term solutions that help to ensure that these refugees and displaced people can lead healthier, safer and more productive lives. In a speech at the Voices of Courage Luncheon 2012, executive director Sarah Costa, explained that “Their voices and views are the starting point for everything that we do".
Another organization where women are making and keeping the peace, is the Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) Education Fund. Their mission is to "empower women to act politically to reduce violence and militarism and redirect excessive military resources toward unmet human and environmental needs". Susan Shaer, executive director of WAND, reminds us of suffragette leader Alice Paul’s famous words, "There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”
Honoring and Cherishing Peacemaking Women: the Keys to our Global Future.I wish all of you the Peace of the holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!