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In May and June SGI-USA organized two lectures focusing on women's experiences of war and their roles in conflict prevention and peace-building in its Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series.
On May 21, Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini spoke to an audience of some 150 people at the SGI-USA culture center in Washington DC. Ms. Anderlini is cofounder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), an NGO that supports civil society activism on rights, peace and security in conflict-affected countries. As director of the Women Waging Peace Policy Commission, she led groundbreaking field research in 12 countries on women's contributions to conflict prevention, security and peacemaking.
Informed by her own experience and research in the field and her involvement in drafting the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, Ms. Anderlini responded to interview questions touching on various dimensions of women's contributions to peace-building and the urgency of including women's voices in peace processes relating to countries emerging from conflict. Women are not just peaceful, said Ms. Anderlini; they are conduits in their communities who can enact real change.
The second lecture took place on June 3, at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center, where filmmaker, philanthropist and activist Abigail Disney spoke on the media's romanticization of war and the true meaning of peaceful leadership. She also held a dialogue with SGI-USA youth.
Ms. Disney, cofounder and copresident of the Daphne Foundation pointed out how the romantic image of war portrayed in movies cannot be sustained when women are added into the picture. The image of a strong, independent soldier "is a willed ignorance of reality." Addressing these portrayals, she said, was her motivation for creating a five-part series for PBS called "Women, War & Peace," which includes the award-winning documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee.
Rather than peace being a goal, Ms. Disney called peace a "side effect," something that comes about when we make small, everyday decisions with high aspirations. Encouraging people to develop a culture of peace by looking within and living each moment with greater awareness, she said, "If we want to take on the world's problems, discomfort must be our constant companion." For example, she explained, this may mean we need to "walk out of the bar, walk out of the movie and walk out of the party when entertainment comes at the expense of another."
The SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series commenced in 2007 with lectures focusing on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 UN Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace. The series aims to foster a culture that rejects violence and addresses the root causes of conflict through the power of dialogue.
[Adapted from the June 21 and July 5, 2013, issues of World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy SGI-USA]
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