The Aachen Peace prize was awarded to the Women’s Interfaith Council in Kaduna, Nigeria, on Saturday evening.
The Women’s Interfaith Council, which represents thousands of Muslim and Christian women in Kaduna, was founded by Kathleen McGarvey OLA, in 2010 with the vision to have “a society where Muslims and Christians live together in peace, where the rights of women are respected, and where women and youths are protagonists of peaceful coexistence and development”.
“A society that neglects women can never develop, can never advance,” said Sister Veronica Onyeanisi, who took over the general management of the WIC in 2019. “So we try to give women a voice so that they can make a positive contribution to society.”
Kaduna is the third-largest state in Nigeria, with 60% being Muslim and 40% Christian and violent attacks and kidnappings occur regularly, with school children being at high risk.
The WIC was founded in 2010 with the vision of countering the escalating violence by bringing together women of both faiths to promote women’s active engagement in the promotion of peaceful interreligious coexistence.
The organisation provides support and encouragement to victims of violence in the region and organises further training for women and young people. They work with young people from an early age in order to break down prejudices between religions and genders.
To this end, the women also unite in celebration of holidays central to both religions.
Sr Veronica Onyeanisi OLA currently serves as Executive Director. Mrs Elisabeth Abuk is the Christian Coordinator and Hajiya Daharatu Ahmed Aliyu is the Muslim Coordinator.