We’re delighted to share that the Women’s Interfaith Council (WIC), whose vital work in Kaduna featured in our World Mission Sunday campaign this year, has received the Aachen Peace Prize.
Daharatu Ahmed Aliyu and Elizabeth Abuk, whose story you can read here, arrived in Germany from Nigeria earlier in November to receive the award on behalf of the organisation.
‘We were so happy, we are still happy and will continue to be happy,’ Daharatu told reporters. ‘And now we are international superstars!’ laughed Elizabeth.
The Aachen Peace Prize
The Aachen Peace Prize was established in 1988. It’s supported by around 50 groups – churches, political, trade union and civic- and 350 individuals. The prize is to honour people who work to create peace and understanding between different communities. The declaration made at its inception stated:
‘We wish to show our appreciation to women, men and groups who, viewing the world from the perspective of the underprivileged, have made a contribution to mutual understanding and assistance among individuals and peoples. We wish to honour them irrespective of ideological, religious or party-political criteria… if they have made peace through a sense of justice, through humanity… through non-violence, civil courage, energy, objectivity and magnanimity’.
Putting a divided community back together
With support from the international Missio network, Sister Veronica Onyeanisi has been running the WIC since 2019. You can read more of her story here. She says:
‘A society that neglects women can never develop, can never advance. So we try to give women a voice so that they can make a positive contribution to society.
‘Life in Kaduna was once very beautiful. People lived together peacefully, partying together, until religious fanatics and politicians decided to use religion to divide people.
‘The mission and the vision of the organisation is to create a forum where Muslims and Christians come together to discuss issues and participate in peace building. It’s my job to ensure this is achieved. The council handles a wide range of problems in our society: health issues, environmental issues, political issues, education, economics. And, vitally, it sees that the rights of the women are respected’.
The WIC works to counter the effects of escalating violence in the community. Sr Veronica and her team visit survivors of attacks, providing them with personal support and organising further skills training for other women and young people. It also offers support through a community, ensuring that women of all religions unite and celebrate important holidays together.
The Aachen board says…
The board of directors of the Aachen Peace Prize praised the commitment and faith of the WIC. Board member Lea Heuser said the organisation was ‘very worthy of the award’, and commended the
‘great solidarity of … women towards other women who are exposed to massive violence and a massive patriarchal system, but who, despite their own traumas and experiences of violence, stand up against it, support each other in very solidarity and live this solidarity across all borders’.
Meanwhile, news of the WIC’s progress is spreading, with other states in Nigeria contacting them for help to set up their own interreligious women’s councils.
We are absolutely delighted for Sr Veronica and her team. Congratulations on your well deserved recognition!