Women, Peace and Security Quilt Challenge

by Allison Wilbur on December 20, 2010

Entry deadline January 15, 2011

In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund

Would you like to have a quilt exhibited at the United Nations?

Are you interested in issues facing women around the world?

Have you lived or worked overseas, or travelled and become interested in the role of women as leaders in other countries?

Then take part in the Women, Peace and Security Quilt Challenge.

Whether you take an idea from your own experience or research an issue new to you, this challenge offers the opportunity to add your voice to this creative cry to empower women to be leaders in the struggle for peace and security around the world.


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:


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 (UNIFEM), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 2010 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSC 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 from around the world are invited to join the Women, Peace and Security Quilt Challenge. Quilts can be on any theme related to the topic, though suggestions for topics, related websites and ideas for inspiration to start from are below. The deadline for submission is January 15, 2011. Quilts should measure 20 inches wide and 30 inches high (50 cm wide by 75 cm high).
The exhibit will open at the European Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland in March 2011. Plans are in the works for the quilts to also be exhibited at the United Nations in New York, at a venue in Washington, D.C. and for the quilts to travel to various quilt festivals around the U.S.
Because of the complicated nature of the exhibit tour, we ask that you donate your quilt to the exhibit. One quilt will be selected to hang at the Goma Heal Africa Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which treats women suffering from fistulas and cares for survivors.
For more information and updates, visit quiltforchange.org and join our facebook page (also quiltforchange.org) or follow us on Twitter. For specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at: quiltforchange@me.com. We are happy to help you find or refine a topic. Translating these ideas into a quilt can be challenging! For inspiration, you might want to look at the quilts from our last challenge in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which are displayed on the quiltforchange.org website.
The Entry Form and guidelines can also be found on the quiltforchange.org website.

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 – UNIFEM http://www.unifem.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

If you have suggestions for websites or other venues for inspiration, please share your ideas on our facebook page or email us and we will add them to the website. We welcome pictures of your quilts in progress on the facebook page as well!

Quilt for Change was founded by Allison and Dick Wilbur, curators of the Quilt Challenge in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an exhibit which opened at the United Nations Palais in Geneva Switzerland in November 2009 and which has been travelling with the Mancuso Quilt Festivals. We have developed a web site (quiltforchange.org), facebook page and twitter account with information about the challenges. We can be reached at quiltforchange@me.com.

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