PLENARY: Women as Powerful Agents of Transformation for Peace

Air Date: 19 September, 2023

Women are powerful agents of global transformation, and they must be fully included in all aspect of peacebuilding. A panel of women leaders will discuss why the participation of women is essential to attain peace.

Prof. Azza Karam (PhD), Member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism is the former Secretary-General of Religions for Peace. She holds a Professorship of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and is currently a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s “High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism.” She served for nearly two decades in the United Nations (UNDP and UNFPA), including as a Coordinator of the Arab Human Development Reports, a Senior Advisor on Culture, and Lead Facilitator/Trainer for the UN Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy. During her time in the UN, she founded and was Convenor of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development.

She has worked internationally including with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA), the OECD and the EU, and has taught and lectured in Europe, North America (including the U.S. Military Academy/West Point), and in the Arab region.

Her Ph.D. focused on Political Islam. She has published widely, in several languages, on international political dynamics, including democratization, human rights, peace and security, gender, religious engagement, and sustainable development.


Manulani Aluli Meyer, Associate Specialist, Student Affairs University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu campus, is the fifth daughter of Emma Aluli and Harry Meyer who grew up on the sands of Mokapu and Kailua beach on the island of O’ahu and along the rainy shoreline of Hilo Palikū. The Aluli ʻohana is a large and diverse group of scholar-activists dedicated to Hawaiian education, restorative justice, land reclamation, ʻohana health practices, cultural revitalization, arts education, prison reform, transformational economics, food sovereignty, and Hawaiian music. Professor Aluli Meyer works in the field of indigenous epistemology and its role in world-wide awakening. She obtained her doctorate in Philosophy of Education from Harvard (Ed.D. 1998). She is a world-wide keynote speaker, writer, and international evaluator of Indigenous Ph.D.s who now works at the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu campus.

Keisha Bush leads the communications department at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and is the author of No Heaven For Good Boys, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and My Family Tree, a Scholastic children’s reader. She has received fellowships from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Moulin à Nef, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Vona. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Lion’s Roar Magazine, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, and Electric Lit. She has a business degree from Bentley University, an MFA in creative writing from The New School, and is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies degree at Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Deborah Sanchez, Board Secretary & Treasurer Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, is Chumash, O’odham and Raramuri American Indian. She studies and teaches the Chumash Šmuwič language and has composed several contemporary Šmuwič songs honoring traditional Chumash beliefs and way of life, including mourning songs and songs of joy and wonder.

During her career as an attorney, Deborah was a volunteer for the Southern California Indian Center, handling issues ranging from Landlord-Tenant cases to the Indian Child Welfare Act. She was an attorney for nearly 20 years and has prosecuted child exploitation cases and hate crimes. She is now a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles.

Deborah is a faculty member of American Indian Studies at California State University, Long Beach, teaching American Indians and the Law and serves on the boards of various nonprofit organizations involving Indigenous Peoples. She is the recipient of many awards. Deborah is the Secretary/Treasurer for the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

Audrey E. Kitagawa, J.D., is President/Founder of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation, President of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family, Chair of the Anti-Racism Initiative and the Gender Equality Working Group of the G20 Interfaith Forum, and former Advisor to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the UN. She is a UN Representative for the URI, a Board member of Global Security Institute, and a Board member of the International Center for Religion and Democracy. She has been listed in Who’s Who of American Law, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Prominent People of Hawaii. She was enstooled into the royal family of Ajiyamanti, Ghana as the Nekoso Hemaa (Queen Mother of Development) where a school she helped to build, the Nana Ode Anyankobea Junior Secondary School, is named after her.