The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) was founded to help awaken and mobilize spiritual energies in places of great need with the goal of aiding in healing and unifying the world community. GPIW facilitates this by seeking to gather together those of great insight, wisdom, compassion and dedication, many of whom are working quietly for the upliftment of the world. A major focus of GPIW’s work is to aid in building a global network of contemplative leaders who through their inner work can help transform the causes and conditions that lead to suffering at both the individual and collective level. In fall, 2006 September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows members Colleen Kelly, Adele Welty, and Terry Rockefeller participated in a GPIW conference with Iraqi women in New York City.
The Global Peace Initiative of Women has its beginnings in the process that led up to the first summit of religious leaders held at the United Nations in New York in 2000, the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. During the planning for that summit, it became clear that very few of the religious leaders invited to speak at the UN would be women. And indeed this was the case. During the Summit, the political and institutional issues surrounding religion came into play. In frustration, the women came together and called for a followup meeting to focus on what they had come to the UN to do – to explore how they could contribute to reconciliation and healing in areas of conflict and tension. This meeting took place two years later at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with over 600 women from over 70 countries, and from this summit the Global Peace Initiative of Women was formed.
A delegation from Israel and Palestine had participated in the Geneva Summit and called for the group to come to help establish dialogue in their region. GPIW traveled to Israel and Palestine and then brought a delegation of Israeli and Palestine women to the Nobel Peace Academy in Oslo, Norway to explore how they could open dialogue. Several meetings followed in Israel and Palestine and a large conference was subsequently organized in Jordan at the end of 2004 with over 240 Israeli and Palestinian women, including a delegation from Gaza, with support from the government of Sweden. This network has continued and members from the group have become a central part of GPIW’s international work.
In 2004, GPIW was approached by the United Nations Development Program to help in the organization of a series of youth leadership summits to help mobilize young people around the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. GPIW’s role was to bring the spiritual component and to invite spiritual leaders to engage with young people in the discussions.
In partnership with the United Nations, we organized two Pan-African Youth Leadership Summits, one in Asia, one in Latin America and a final Global Youth Leadership Summit at the United Nations in New York. As part of this final program, GPIW organized a peacebuilding retreat for those young people from conflict areas, which was held at the Dharma Drum Mountain retreat center in upstate New York, with participation from the UN University for Peace. These programs were a joint effort of GPIW and the United Nations, both in organization and funding.
From this process, GPIW developed a global network of young leaders that continues. Much emerged from this collaboration and GPIW subsequently went on to organize three followup programs with a greater focus on how to transform conflict by tapping spiritual resources. These took place with young community leaders from Sudan, Cambodia and Iraq. These programs have led to a collaboration with the US Institute of Peace (USIP), which was the main partner for the dialogue with young Iraqi community leaders. The Iraqi dialogue took place in Dharamsala, India and meetings with the Tibetan leadership and discussions on Gandhi’s practice of nonviolence had an enormous impact on the group.
GPIW began its work in Iraq through a peace dialogue with Iraqi women in 2006 and was able to bring 25 Iraqi women to New York to meet with American women and talk about the situation in their country. Important relationships were formed, and GPIW is currently organizing a followup training program with the US State Department that will bring 15 Iraqi women community leaders to Washington in October for two weeks of training.
Over the years GPIW’s work has grown to include three basic components – dialogues with women in conflict areas, programs to cultivate spiritual resources in young people, and gatherings to deepen interreligious and interspiritual exchange around principles of oneness, interdependence and compassion. These gatherings often include a focus on the feminine principles that can help rebalance our world and create a more inclusive and caring world community.
In March 2008, GPIW organized a major gathering in Jaipur, India called Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community. This was a turning point for the organization. It brought the feminine principles more deeply to the center of its work, and the understanding that this rebalancing of the masculine and feminine energies is essential for the wellbeing and future of our world. This understanding guided GPIW in developing the program for its first Summit in the US entitled Gathering the Spiritual Voice of America to Deepen our Knowing of Oneness and our Compassion as a Nation, which took place in November, 2008.
Web site: http://www.gpiw.org/