On Tuesday, South Sudanese activist Rita M Lopidia was awarded the inaugural Women Building Peace Award by the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace (USIP). It was her experience with years of civil war and displacement and her campaign for women’s participation in peace negotiations that got her the award.

Lopidia has been a survivor. She was just a child when shells started falling in her hometown of Juba (Capital of South Sudan), forcing the family to flee the fighting in the 1990s.  South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of Sudan only in 2011.

The U.S. Institute of Peace tweeted, “We are pleased to announce that Rita M. Lopidia, executive director and co-founder of Eve Organization for Women Development in South Sudan, received the Institute’s inaugural Women Building Peace Award.”

What You Should Know

  • Rita M Lopidia  was awarded the inaugural Women Building Peace Award.
  • She is the executive director and co-founder of  Eve Organisation for Women Development.
  • Rita has trained over 200 young women in peacebuilding.

Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee announced Rita’s selection as the first recipient of the Women Building Peace award. The award announcement ceremony was conducted virtually and it also featured 10 finalists selected from more than 150 nominees representing 51 countries.

Lopidia in the online award ceremony said, “The work we do … is to ensure that women have the space to contribute in decision making, and women have the opportunity to contribute in building this nation into a country that is stable and peaceful,” Reuters reported.

Also Read:Margaret Atwood Honoured With 2020 Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Rita has brought up initiatives like the Incubator – Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP), which she identifies as her biggest achievement and legacy for South Sudan. Through her initiatives, she has trained over 200 young women in peacebuilding.

Despite receiving death threats due to her work, the Sudanese activist played a major role to get the voices of women, in particular, displaced women. In 2018, she led a coalition of women’s organisations to champion women’s participation revitalised peace agreement in South Sudan. Lopidia told South Sudan In Focus that her struggle for peace in South Sudan has been an uphill task full of threats from men at the negotiating table.

She has played a pivotal role in getting women on board for the peace process in South Sudan.

The Women Building Peace award honours the work of women peacebuilders whose leadership, courage and commitment to peace stand out. The award recognises the important role women play in preventing conflict.

USIP was set-up by the U.S. Congress in 1984 that works to prevent conflict abroad and in an attempt to promote peace and recognise women working towards peace-related goals, the organisation shortlisted 10 finalists for the award. All the 10 finalists were women trying their best to bring out notable changes in the society.

Victoria Nyanjura from Uganda, Tabassum Adnan from Pakistan, Rosa Emilia from Colombia, were amongst the top 10 finalists in the run for the award.

Also Read:If Countries Had More Women Leaders, We’d Have A More Peaceful World: Dalai Lama

Sanskriti Tiwari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.



Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.