Celebrating Mother’s Day as Peacebuilders
As many of you may know, Mother’s Day was originally conceived of as a day of peace to honor mothers who had lost sons and husbands in the Civil War. Forty years before it became a national holiday, Julia Ward Howe, a prominent American abolitionist, feminist, poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” wrote the powerful “Mother’s Day Proclamation” we highlighted last year, and have included her powerful last stanza below.
It can be hard to keep that passionate plea for peace in our hearts with the news we are bombarded with daily: another horrific shooting here in the US, the relentless tragedy of the war in Ukraine, the devastating impact of climate change, the mental health crises and opioid epidemic ravaging our children and communities. The global challenges are monumental and existential and can all too easily lead to despair, as they have for so many.
But for every challenge we are facing there are countless stories of women – and men – who have had the courage to do truly amazing things to fight for and create a more just and peaceful world . A very few are recognized, like Heidi Kühn who just won this year’s World Food Prize for her work removing land mines and unexploded bombs from the ground, and providing farmers with technical assistance and training to make a living off the land, instead of dying from it.
But there are countless brave women around the world Karuna has had the honor to work with – often unrecognized and often at great personal risk – to make their communities safer for their children. Whether in our project in Nigeria, where many women are successfully pushing back against traditional gender norms and being trained as community dialogue facilitators (see the picture above of a community dialogue facilitator with her baby) – or in Myanmar where women have been leading dialogues and creative influencing campaigns despite the violence and repression, or in Ethiopia, where they have been leading civil society organizations to counteract extremist threats to the community.
Please join us in celebrating and honoring these amazing women and all those in your life who are working against great odds to create a more just and peaceful world.
“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”
– Julia Ward Howe, 1870