The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) is honored to announce María Eugenia Mosquera Riascos of Colombia as the recipient of the Institute’s 2022 Women Building Peace Award.

María Eugenia Mosquera Riascos

María Eugenia Mosquera Riascos is the legal representative of Comunidades Construyendo Paz en Colombia (CONPAZCOL), a grassroots network of 140 victims organizations in 14 departments across Colombia where violent conflict continues. As a peacebuilder and human rights defender, Mosquera Riascos has worked for over 30 years with women, Afro-Colombian, indigenous and small-scale farming communities that have been the victims of social and armed conflict in Colombia.

Mosquera Riascos builds peace initiatives within the frameworks of nonviolent action, human rights and international humanitarian law. Under her leadership, CONPAZCOL has implemented concrete initiatives toward justice and accountability for victims and their families.

Mosquera Riascos’ peacebuilding work includes her participation as the female victim's voice in the Colombian peace negotiations in Havana, the creation of humanitarian spaces in urban and rural Colombia, the elaboration of reports for the Truth Commission and Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and the organization of public acts of recognition for events dealing with the past. Mosquera Riascos has also ensured searches for disappeared persons, secured collective land titles for Afro-Colombian communities in Valle de Cauca and organized events bringing together victims and aggressors toward reconciliation.

Despite being the target of attacks, Mosquera Riascos remains at the frontlines defending the rights of the most vulnerable communities. Her efforts have strengthened the leadership of Afro-Colombian and indigenous women and youth as they contribute to social, political and cultural processes impacting their lives. She is a fearless defender of women’s and ethnic rights — travelling regionally, nationally and internationally to advocate for those excluded from decision-making. She has earned the respect of others due to her courage and strong commitment to peace.

Background

USIP has long been engaged in supporting women peacebuilders in countries affected by conflict—including civil society leaders and peace negotiators in Afghanistan, mediators in Colombia, women-led organizations preventing violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, advocates for gender equality in Pakistan, religious leaders across the Middle East advancing the rights of women and girls, and leaders of nonviolent movements around the globe.

The Women Building Peace Award both reflects the Institute’s comprehensive commitment to gender and peacebuilding and demonstrates the important role women play in peacebuilding efforts.

USIP’s award is different from other prominent awards for women in two ways: 1) It focuses on women from civil society working on the front lines of conflict; and 2) It focuses on women at the grassroots level who have not been previously recognized for their peacebuilding work. During the first three years of the award, 25 women from 15 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America have been named as finalists. The award winners have come from South Sudan, Kenya and Colombia.

Eligibility Requirements

Every nominee must meet all of the five requirements listed below in order to move forward in the nomination application process.

  • The nominee must be a woman of at least 18 years of age.
  • The nominee must be a non-U.S. citizen.
  • The nominee must be working to build peace in a fragile or conflict-affected country or region.
  • The nominee cannot be employed by USIP or have been affiliated with USIP as a contractor, grantee, fellow or recipient of the Women Building Peace Award during the 24 months prior to the submission of this nomination application.
  • The nominee must not have been nominated for the Women Building Peace Award in the past two years.

Selection Criteria

The award honors a woman peacebuilder who has made a substantial contribution to the pursuit of peace and security in her community, region, or issue area. The annual award recipient is chosen with the help of the Women Building Peace Council. The Council is a brain trust of distinguished experts and leaders who offer their guidance and support to USIP as we elevate the voices of women peacebuilders. Drawing upon their collective expertise in the fields of gender and peacebuilding, the Council’s core role is to help select the finalists and the awardee of the annual Women Building Peace Award.

Nominees should demonstrate the following four qualities:

  1. Commitment to Peace: A woman who shows a commitment to peace through her work to prevent or resolve conflict nonviolently in a fragile or conflict-affected country or region.
  2. Exceptional Leadership: A woman who embodies exceptional leadership through her vision and innovation and has earned the respect of others in the pursuit of peace.
  3. Outstanding Practitioner: A woman who is a peacebuilding practitioner working with members of local, national or international communities in an inclusive and participatory manner.
  4. Substantial Impact: A woman whose peacebuilding work has led to tangible results.

Award FAQs

Who can submit nominations?
While all Women Building Peace Award nominees must be women, both men and women can act as nominators. Nominators should be familiar with the nominee’s peacebuilding work and be able to speak specifically to ways in which the nominee meets the selection criteria.

Can I nominate more than one person?
No. Nominators may not nominate more than one woman.

Does the woman I am nominating need to know I have nominated her?
Yes. Nomination applications should be completed in consultation with the nominee. Nominators should be certain that their nominee is willing and able to travel to the United States and speak publicly about her work.

Can more than one person nominate the same individual?
No. Only one nomination application will be accepted for each woman peacebuilder. If more than one nomination is received for a nominee, the first nomination submitted will be considered for the award.

Can I nominate myself for the award?
No. Self-nominations are not accepted. We encourage you to find a colleague or another individual who is willing to nominate you for the award.

Are transgender women eligible to be nominated for this award?
Yes. Transgender women are eligible to be nominated for the Women Building Peace Award.

Can an individual be nominated posthumously?
No. The Women Building Peace Award does not accept posthumous nominations.

What happens to a nomination application if the nominee does not meet the Eligibility Requirements for the award?
All nomination applications are reviewed to ensure that the nominee meets the Eligibility Requirements. If a nominee does not meet the Eligibility Requirements, the nomination application will not be accepted.

Will the nominee be notified once the nominator has submitted the nomination application?
No. Only the nominator is notified once an application is submitted. It is the responsibility of the nominator to inform the woman peacebuilder that she was nominated for the award.

If the nominee is not chosen as a Finalist for the Women Building Peace Award, is she eligible to apply for another USIP grant or fellowship competition?
Yes. A nominee may apply for a USIP grant or fellowship opportunity. However, nominees must wait 24 months before they can be nominated again for the Women Building Peace Award.

What is a fragile or conflict-affected country or region?
A fragile or conflict-affected country or region is a place where the social compact between people and the state is weak or absent and where violent conflict is ongoing or recently subsided.

What is peacebuilding?
Peacebuilding involves a transformation toward more manageable, peaceful relationships and governance structures. It is the long-term process of addressing root causes and effects, reconciling differences, normalizing relations, and building institutions that can manage conflict without resorting to violence.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the award?
If you have questions about the Women Building Peace Award, please send an email to womenbuildingpeace@usip.org. All email queries will receive a response within one business day.