“Secondly, that we have unique skills and talents that can be used. Thirdly, that whatever we’ve done from North to South, East to West has been recognized as a good thing. Finally, this award is a loud call that no more can we negotiate peace and leave 50 percent of the world’s population out. There is no way we can do Iraqi peace talks without women. There is no way that Afghan-istan can be a success story without the involvement of women.”
....Ms. Gbowee shared Liberian women’s story of crossing lines of religion and tradition to work for peace, an experience that illustrates the importance and validity of the Speaking Out for Compassion and Against Hate resolution that Women’s Division is also bringing to the General Conference.
Ms. Gbowee said Liberia’s women’s peace movement leaders had to first bring the nation’s Christian and Muslim women together.
“You may think that the problem was getting the Muslim women, but it was Christian women who said, ‘What fellowship has light with darkness?’” Ms. Gbowee said quoting some Christian women who mistakenly thought the 2 Corinthians 6:14 verse barred them from working with people of other religions, even for the good of their nation. “One woman said, ‘I had a dream, a vision that a Muslim woman was trying to kill me!’ We told her, ‘Your vision is a lie!’ We had to tear down walls of ‘us’ and ‘them.’”
Ms. Gbowee described an exercise they used to help the Christian and Muslim women unite for peace. They met with the Christian women and the Muslim women on separate days and asked each group to write down all of the stereotypes, negative and positive, that they had about the other group. On the third day, they let the women, still separated, view the lists of stereotypes.
“They said, ‘Oh, my God! Do they really think that about us?” Ms. Gbowee said. “One of the things the Muslim women admired about the Christian women was that they had one husband and didn’t have to share their husband with other wives. When the Christian women saw that, they said, ‘Uhm.’ So it was tearing down all those walls, all those words demonizing a group of people so you’re not looking at individuals anymore, you’re looking at a thing.”
Ms. Gbowee, a Christian, said the experience taught her that peacemaking is spiritual work. “You have to have a connection with a higher power,” she said. “To look at an enemy, smile and still tell them the truth, you have to go back and kneel down to someone and say, ‘In my own strength, I cannot do this.’”
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