Horizon Summit and Advancing The Culture of Peace

WFWPI and WFWP, USA Hold Annual Intergenerational Gathering in New York

WFWPI and WFWP, USA Hold Annual Intergenerational Gathering in New York

The Horizon Summit is an intergenerational gathering dedicated to fostering peace leadership co-sponsored by WFWP, International and WFWP, USA and held annually during the weekend following the first full week of CSW. It was initially established as a young women leader’s retreat in 2016. In 2017 this event was renamed the Horizon Summit and was given an intergenerational focus. The schedule typically consists of a panel of speakers, interactive sessions, networking opportunities, and more. The theme for 2019 was “Advancing The Culture of Peace” and played a significant role in the observance of the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking resolution, the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (A/RES/53/243), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 1999.

The Culture of Peace was first introduced at the United Nations through the UN General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 52/13 in November of 1997. This was followed by the UNGA Resolution 52/15, which proclaimed the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace. Early the next year, the UNGA Resolution 53/25 proclaimed the period 2001-2010 as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury

The keynote address on “Advancing The Culture of Peace” was given by Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and Founder of The Global Movement for The Culture of Peace (GMCoP). During his speech, Ambassador Chowdhury stressed the need for action to be taken at four levels to attain sustainable peace - the individual, family and community, national and global levels - as “peace is a process of transformation from within an individual and the collective.” Closely tied to this point of starting with the individual, Ambassador Chowdhury touched on how early childhood is crucial in sowing the seeds of peace. The ambassador concluded by focusing on the role of women. He stated that, half of the global population are women, many who are marginalized, and until women are able to engage in society at an equal level with men, a lasting culture of peace will evade us. Ambassador Chowdhury’s message set the tone for the day, which focussed on honoring women who have been actively working in areas beneficial to advancing The Culture of Peace.

This year at the Horizon Summit, leaders of WFWP awarded several individuals for the work they are doing in relation to the event’s theme. Three remarkable individuals were given awards for their contributions to advancing The Culture of Peace. Mamie Thompson was presented with an award in the area of Fostering Peace Within the Individual. Ms. Thompson is an international diversity and education consultant with over 25 years of experience in program and training development and was recognized for the impact she has had on children and young adults on their development into responsible members of the global family. She spoke encouraging words, on how the youth have power to bring positive change, how we are more alike than we are different and the need for nonviolent conflict resolution skills in the educational framework. Jean Kelly was presented with an award for Fostering Peace Between Neighbors for her 26 years as Executive Director of the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN). The audience was deeply moved by Mrs. Kelly’s words on how she has been fighting the “violence of poverty” by bringing the community together to practice unconditional love through providing essential services to those in need and uplifting them on the road to self-sufficiency. Meera Khanna was awarded for Fostering Peace Within the Individual. As a writer, poet, and social activist Ms. Khanna has been using her talents to empower women, and especially widows in India, combining grassroots work with advocacy.

In addition to the three awardees, WFWP recognized two young women for their contributions to The Culture of Peace. The first Honorable Mention was presented to Fumika Hasegawa, a high school senior who developed a menstrual hygiene project to empower women and girls in Guatemala through addressing issues concerning health and society. The second Honorable Mention was given to Sara Mwamlima, the founder of the nonprofit Backpacks for Africa. Sara was recognized for the incredible work she has done in the area of community mobilization, youth empowerment through education and poverty alleviation.

While the morning was focused on acknowledging and receiving inspiration from the work being done to advance The Culture of Peace, the afternoon portion focused on reflection and agency, consisting of three rounds of speakers and discussions. The speakers included: Ms. Nada Elattar, Early Childhood Development Specialist at UNICEF Headquarters in New York; Ms. Kim Foulds, Senior Director of International Research & Evaluation at Sesame Workshop; and Ms. Carolyn Handschin, International Vice President of WFWPI representing Europe, as well as Director of the WFWPI Offices for UN Relations. Each speaker was followed by an interactive discussion facilitated by table, which encouraged participants to share their own insights on the topics and engage with the idea of themselves as peacemakers.

Late in the afternoon, guests were encouraged to reflect on their own contributions to advancing The Culture of Peace by engaging with interactive rooms where they could share their personal stories, declare their action steps, and express through words and illustrations what The Culture of Peace means to them.

The program concluded with a dinner banquet in an atmosphere set by soft lights, candles, and floral arrangements. Musical performances by Ms. Sarah Eide and Mr. Abe Deshotel rounded out the evening with artistic depth and meaning. Ms. Angelika Selle, President of WFWP, USA and International Vice President, closed the day with a call to action. She emphasized that peace begins with personal transformation and encouraged the participants to collaborate with each other as peacemakers, to find common ground even when it is difficult, and to never give up.