Crisis Group held an Award Dinner in New York City last Friday in honor of four extraordinary women who’ve dedicated their lives to promoting peaceful, just and open societies in some of the world’s most conflict-affected regions. You can read more about Sihem Bensedrine, Shukri Ismail, Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey and Sima Samar on crisisgroup.org.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the keynote address, which you can read in full here.
Wall Street Journal reporter Mike Vilensky was in attendance:
Last Friday, President Bill Clinton was running late to the “In Pursuit of Peace” Dinner, an awards ceremony and soiree for the International Crisis Group, held at Pier Sixty in Manhattan, where both he and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were to speak.
Introduced by CNN newsman Wolf Blitzer as “a man that absolutely, positively needs no introduction,” Louise Arbour, chief executive of the Crisis Group, came on stage in lieu of Mr. Clinton. “Fortunately because of the lights I can’t see the looks of disappointment on your faces,” Ms. Arbour joked. “But I’ll take it for granted you were expecting someone considerably taller.”
The former president and Mrs. Clinton eventually arrived, and they dined with guests including billionaire investor George Soros and singer Sarah McLachlan.
The Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization preventing and resolving global conflicts, honored human-rights activists Shukri Ismail, Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, Sihem Bensedrine and Sima Samar. (Ms. Ismail heads a health organization based in Somaliland; Ms. Paz Bailey is the attorney general in Guatemala; Ms. Bensedrine is a journalist in Tunisia; and Ms. Samar heads a human-rights organization in Afghanistan.)
And Swanee Hunt has this to report in the Daily Beast:
An hour later, Secretary Clinton gave her rousing keynote. She and I have had many a conversation over the years about our shared passion for bringing women into the concept of security. In her speech, she reminded us that of the 300 peace accords signed in the last 20 years, half have failed. “What’s missing from the peace talks?” asked the secretary. “One answer is women.”
War has changed, but the way we approach peace hasn’t. The secretary emphasized that we need a new way to build lasting stability—and that new way is the untapped power of women.
She described vast networks of women in almost every conflict zone, whether lawless mountains of Pakistan or “up-country” in the forests of Liberia.
Women are preventing wars and healing stricken communities. When we recognize that, we’re looking at global security from a new perspective.
Clinton emphasized that most men aren’t warmongers, and women aren’t universally altruistic. In fact, we make peace because it’s the smart thing to do. Women understand the cost of war because we pay that debt long into the future—through psychological trauma, pregnancy and HIV/AIDS from mass rapes, schools and clinics destroyed, and family ties broken. But most important, women want to protect their children. “Sustainable peace” is not just a set of buzzwords to us or to them; it’s an imperative for a secure home as well as a secure world.
We’ll post other news stories about the night as they come in.