For Immediate Release, June 25, 2013
Contact: Allison Sturma, 202-429-4725

(Washington) – At the closing event of the National Peace Essay Contest (NPEC) program on June 20, the U.S. Institute of Peace recognized three high school students for their essays on the role of gender in conflict. Molly Nemer of Minnesota took home first prize and a $10,000 scholarship; Anna Mitchell of Michigan was the second place finisher and will receive a $5,000 scholarship; and Bo Yeon Jang representing the category of American students studying abroad earned the third place scholarship of $2,500. They were selected from the 50 finalists representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and international students. All finalists received a $1,000 scholarship and were invited to participate in last week’s NPEC Washington program where they met with foreign policy leaders and learned more about international conflict management.

USIP launched the National Peace Essay Contest in 1987 in response to Congress’s mandate that the Institute “include the provision of scholarships and educational programs in international peace and conflict management and related fields for outstanding secondary school students” as an element of its broader mission to prevent and mitigate international conflict through nonviolent means. The annual NPEC challenges students to evaluate critically the international issues related to the work of the Institute.

This year’s topic challenged students to define what it means to have a gendered approached to war and peace issues. USIP’s Center for Gender and Peacebuilding informs and expands critical understanding about gender impacts, contributes to policy changes through analytical and practitioner work on gender, conflict, and peacebuilding, and enhances the role of women in peacebuilding through education and training of both men and women.

“Each year, the Institute challenges high school student to think critically about the world they live in and they consistently meet that challenge,” commented USIP President Jim Marshall. “Molly, Anna, and Bo Yeon have crafted clear, compelling essays on the role of gender in peacebuilding. I commend them, and the other state winners, for their accomplishments.”

Molly Nemer, the national first place winner, attends Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, MN. Her essay discusses the need to mainstream gender into peacebuilding in order to recognize the different experiences that men and women face in conflicts and to empower women to become agents of peace in their communities, citing events in Liberia and Haiti.

Comparing the experiences of women in Liberia and Afghanistan, the national second place winner Anna Mitchell of Plymouth, MI, argued that female leadership in civil society and other nongovernmental positions can create positive change from the ground up.

In her essay, the national third-place winner representing the category of American students at overseas schools, Bo Yeon Jang of the International School Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, discussed how cultural interpretations of gender roles affected conflict resolution efforts in Papua New Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

More information on the National Peace Essay Contest, including details on the 2014 topic is available online.

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The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict through nonviolent means. USIP works to save lives, increase the government’s ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, DC. To learn more, visit www.usip.org.

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