(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) is pleased to announce that Rita M. Lopidia, executive director and co-founder of the Eve Organization for Women Development in South Sudan, received the Institute’s inaugural Women Building Peace Award. This award recognizes the vital efforts of individual women pursuing peace in fragile or conflict-affected countries around the world.

Rita Lopidia, USIP's 2020 Women Building Peace Award recipient
Rita Lopidia, USIP's 2020 Women Building Peace Award recipient

“USIP is proud to honor Ms. Lopidia with the inaugural Women Building Peace Award,” said Joe Lataille, the Institute’s acting president and chief financial officer. “Her commitment to nonviolent action, inclusive leadership, and fearless advocacy embody the spirit of this award.”

Ms. Lopidia led a coalition of women’s organizations to champion women’s participation in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement in South Sudan, and her organization supports women displaced by South Sudan’s conflict. She has also advocated for the development of the South Sudan United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 National Action Plan and gender-sensitive legislation in her own country. 

“Throughout my career, I’ve been humbled by the courageous, inspiring, and powerful women I’ve met who risk their lives and find bold new ways to build peace,” said Nancy Lindborg, honorary chair of the Women Building Peace Council. “I know Ms. Lopidia will inspire generations of women peacebuilders to come.”

Leymah R. Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, announced the selection of Rita Lopidia as the first recipient of the award during a virtual ceremony hosted by USIP earlier today. The celebration also featured 10 finalists that the Women Building Peace Council selected from more than 150 nominees representing 51 countries.

“In today’s complicated, turbulent world, women like Ms. Lopidia remind us what’s possible,” said Megan Beyer, co-chair of the Women Building Peace Council. “We are so proud to honor her with this well-deserved recognition. We remain grateful to all our finalists for their continual, courageous commitment to peace.”

“Ms. Lopidia’s achievements reinforce what data have long shown: to build a more peaceful world, give women a seat at the table,” said Marcia Carlucci, co-chair of the Women Building Peace Council. “As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to exacerbate violent conflict globally, lifting up the importance of women peacebuilders remains vital.”

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