Women, Peace and Security Quilt Challenge
In Partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 10 year anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, a call went out to fiber artists to create art quilts on the theme of Women, Peace and Security. The 20 quilts in the exhibit are the personal expressions of 18 artists from the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, and Iran; a call for solidarity of the women of the world to work together to defend and protect women in times of conflict and to empower women to be active agents in the peace process. The special nature of women’s vulnerability in times of conflict as well as their particular needs stemming from their role as mothers and caregivers must be factored into conflict situations and peace negotiations.
Women everywhere must be included and empowered so that their voices and needs can be heard. Under the sponsorship of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United States Mission to the UN in Geneva, the Canadian Mission to the UN, the Colombian Mission, the Advocacy Project and the Worldwide YWCA, the exhibit opened at the United Nations in Geneva in March 2011. The exhibit was displayed outside the Human Rights Council Meeting Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from March 1 – 24, 2011, were displayed at the 100 anniversary conference of the Worldwide YWCA in Zurich, Switzerland, and nine of the quilts were part of an exhibit at the United Nations Visitors’ Center in New York, New York in March, 2012. The exhibit opened in the American quilt world at the International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston in the fall of 2012 and then travelled with Mancuso Quilt Festivals.
March 2011 Opening Reception, United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland
July 2011 27th World YWCA Council, Zurich Switzerland
March 2012 United Nations Visitor Center, New York, New York
November 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival
February, 2014 MidAtlantic Quilt Festival, Hampton, Virginia
August 2014 World Quilt Show, Manchester, New Hampshire
October 2014 Quiltfest Oasis Palm Springs, California
October 2014 Pacific International Quilt Fest, Santa Clara, California
January 2014 World Quilt, Orlando, Florida
April 2014 Narragansett Bay Quilters Association Show, North Kingston, Rhode Island
March 2015 New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts
December 2015 The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
May 2016 World Affairs Council, Providence, Rhode Island
Dawn Piasta, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Corinne Beque, Geneva, Switzerland
Anna Hergert, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Zahra Golami, Karajh, Iran
Trish Vessey, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Holly McCoy, Madison, Wisconsin
Carolyn Carson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Susan McEntree Comeaux, Lafayette, Louisiana
Bonnie Smith, San Jose, California
Susan Wittrup, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nairn Stewart, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
Eleanor Michonski, Shelby Township, Michigan
Jennifer Day, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Allison Wilbur, Barrington, Rhode Island
Lea McComas, Superior, Colorado
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga, San Antonio, Texas
B.J Reid, Toronto, Canada
Effete Saniee, Karajh, Iran
The Women, Peace and Security Quilt Challenge recognizes women’s strength within their societies, as teachers, organizers and leaders as well as their vulnerability in times of conflict. Women hold together the fabric of their families and stitch together broken and torn societies. Like a quilt, pieces of society are brought together in harmony, although resources may be few. Fragments are recovered and restored while new patterns are drawn. What emerges is evidence of strength and resilience – a testimony of women’s power and their ability to overcome all odds.
To understand some of the issues women are facing around the world, watch this United Nations video:
Women Count for Peace Video
The international community is coming together to empower and protect women in conflict zones, including the United Nations through its agencies like the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNWomen), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 2010 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security, which recognizes women’s central place in preventing armed conflict, their ability to provide early warning of impending violence, and their work to try to resolve conflicts even as they begin or change. Women are central to peace building and recovery.
Through this resolution, the Security Council has upheld international humanitarian law and human rights law in reinforcing the protection of civilians – women, children, and men who are not under arms. It recognizes the role of belligerents, and in particular nation states, in ensuring that citizens and civilians are protected. The international community – in particular those who are deployed to conflict zones under protection mandates, including humanitarian staff and peacekeepers – has been admonished to protect the most vulnerable, to work under a zero tolerance policy to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure the civilian nature of camps in order to enable and support women’s engagement and decision making roles.
The Women, Peace and Security agenda has been strengthened over the past ten years with the passage of UNSC Resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889. UNSC Resolution 1820 strengthens protection for women and recognizes sexual violence as a tactic of war that must be prevented. It underlines the need for services for survivors, women’s active participation and their role in peace processes. UNSC1888 and UNSC1889 further reinforce based on the earlier resolutions.
Women as victims: Recently the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moom sent his Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to investigate the claim that sexual violence had been used as a tactic of war in the Eastern DRC province of North Kivo. When he returned he reported that over 500 women, children and men had been raped during the five day assault on villages like Luvungi (a simple farming town) and the major mining town of Walikale.
Women as combatants in war: In Nepal it is estimated that approximately one fourth of the Maoist rebel cadres were women. Every village under Maoist control has a revolutionary women’s group and women were responsible for intelligence gathering, acting as couriers and maintaining men and families behind the ‘enemy lines’ and ‘no-go’ areas.
Women as political activists: In the Rwandan liberation movement that took hold in Uganda, women were fundraisers, organizers and leaders among the top echelon. Under the current government, women’s rights was a fundamental priority upon its inception and by 2008 Rwanda became the first country with a majority of women in Parliament with 56% of total representation.
Women as leaders: In Pakistan, Afghan women leaders formed a strong civil society structure in the refugee camps. For the first time, Afghan women were given opportunities to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, and girls were enrolled in school. When it became possible to return to Afghanistan with the fall of the Taliban, women leaders took up Ministerial positions in government and the women’s groups that grew up in the camps returned to Afghanistan and set up NGOs and social service programs in their homes of origin.
For inspiration, you might like to turn to the websites of the following organizations:
Helping Women War Victims Survive – Helping Women Survivors of War Rebuild their Lives http://www.womenforwomen.org
United Nations Development Fund for Women – UNWomen http://www.unwomen.org
Say NO – Unite; End Violence Against Women http://www.saynotoviolence.org
Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence Against Women and Girls http://www.endvawnow.org
Doable Fast-Track Indicators For Turning the 1325 Promise into Reality http://www.ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.aspx?new=7979
Armed Conflict and Women – 10 Years of Security Council Resolution 1325
Confronting Violence Against Women – What Has Worked Well and Why
United Nations Agencies Forward Together in the Response to Violence Against Women http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/chronicle/home/archive/issues2010/empoweringwomen/unagneciesresponse2violenceagainstwomen?ctnscroll_articleContainerList=1_0&ctnlistpagination_articleContainerList=true