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Women Peacemakers


Albany, NY – Experts debate whether there's more violence in today's world than in other eras of history. Still, it's hard to deny that as a human race, we're still fighting one another. From the war in Iraq to massacres in Darfur, the last five years have seen plenty of bloody conflict.

In the face of that conflict, Eve Ensler and the Omega Women's Institute on Hudson River about 2 hours north of New York City have decided to put on a conference called Women, Power, and Peace. The annual event is usually called Women and Power, but organizers added the word Peace this year to highlight their efforts to bring endings to world conflicts. The conference is studded with star speakers - from Nobel Prize winners to Hollywood glitterati like Jane Fonda and Kerry Washington. Carla Goldstein heads up the Omega Women's Institute and helped put together the conference. Goldstein says it's not just about the star power - and that's why the Nobel Peace prize-winners are so important.

It's one thing to attend a conference and think about ways to forge peace. It's another to be thrust into negotiations with an extremely dangerous counterpart. That's exactly what Betty Bigombe went through in Uganda. She worked for the Ugandan government, which has clashed with the Lord's Resistance Army for two decades, costing thousands of mostly civilian lives. One-point-six million people live in refugee camps. Now the Ugandan government and the L-R-A are in peace talks - thanks to Bigombe's efforts. She is so instrumental in orchestrating those talks that some call the two rounds of negotiations - Bigombe One and Bigombe Two. She cautions any final settlement will take time - and sees a possible snag in the International Criminal Court indictments of the L-R-A's leaders, which she says must be honored. Betty Bigombe has put her livelihood and her life on the line in her efforts to bring peace to northern Uganda. The former Ugandan diplomat is now living in Washington, DC, where she is writing-up her experiences negotiating peace. Laura Iiyama has more.

Diane Reiner never considered herself a peace activist. She grew up during the Vietnam War era, and always opposed that war. But Reiner spent most of her adult life as a bureaucrat in New York State government. When she retired, she picked up her camera and went on a trip to Iran and Syria that changed her outlook. Suddenly, Reiner wanted to use her photographs to show the humanity she found abroad, to promote acceptance of other cultures. Her work is currently displayed on a billboard in Albany, New York, sponsored by a local group called Women Against War. And Reiner is hooked.

Achieving peace can be a daunting goal. When Ivory Harlowe heard the NPR series This I Believe on the air, she liked the honest way people spoke about their convictions. And she was happy for the opportunity to listen. This led her pretty much directly to the principal that guides her life. Here's Ivory Harlowe, with an essay she wrote for This I Believe. It fit this program so well, we decided to re-air it on 51%.