The Women Building Peace Award is given each year to a woman peacebuilder who has made a major contribution to preventing conflict, combatting violence and building peace in her country or region. Nominations for the 2024 Award will open on Monday, April 22, 2022. Please return to this page on April 22nd to access the nomination application and instructions.

Learn about the 2023 Women Building Peace Award Recipient, Pétronille Vaweka

USIP Announces Pétronille Vaweka as the 2023 Women Building Peace Award Recipient

Pétronille Vaweka is a senior mediator and coordinator for Engaged Women for Peace in Africa (FEPA), a network of women working in conflict-affected areas in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Vaweka co-founded the NGO Fondation pour la Paix Durable in 2000 to push for ceasefire, seek solutions to the war, and advocate for peaceful coexistence in her native province of Ituri. Her team was invited by communities and armed groups to negotiate peace agreements to end hostilities.

Vaweka was elected president of the Ituri Special Interim Assembly in 2003 with the mission to stop the inter-ethnic war, reconcile Ituri and the central government, and raise public awareness for peaceful cohabitation. As the district commissioner for four years, she implemented efforts to restore peace and security in Ituri. Pétronille’s mediation was an important element in the overall efforts to end the 5-year inter-ethnic conflict between the Lendu and the Hema that tragically led to the deaths of over 50,000 people. These efforts produced a nearly 10-year lull in the violence in Ituri. In her positions as President of the Special Interim Assembly and Ituri District Commissioner and, she was able to secure the restoration of state authority, education, justice and the opening up of roads.

In 2006, at the request of the United Nations, Vaweka successfully negotiated the release of seven U.N. peacekeepers detained by an armed group. Throughout her career, she also freed child soldiers and girls forcefully recruited into armed groups in the territories of Djugu and Mahagi. She has worked for the safe return of displaced people and opened lines of communication between torn communities. Through her sensitization efforts, Vaweka also actively contributed to the safe organization of elections.

Vaweka was a leading expert and trainer in conflict management at the DRC’s National Stabilization and Reconstruction Program for more than a decade before launching FEPA in 2022. FEPA is leading the formation of a network of women engaged for peace in eastern DRC.

USIP’s Women Building Peace Council, comprised of distinguished experts and advisers, selected three 2023 finalists, and the recipient, from over 150 nominations received from 42 countries.


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

USIP has long been engaged in supporting women peacebuilders in countries affected by conflict including:

  • Community educators and human rights activists addressing inter-personal and gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea;
  • Women 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;
  • Civil society leaders and peace negotiators in Afghanistan; and 
  • Leaders of nonviolent movements around the globe.

Additionally, USIP’s Women, Peace and Security Program serves as the secretariat for the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (U.S. CSWG), a non-partisan network of over 60 civil society organizations with expertise on the impacts of conflict on women and their participation in peacebuilding. Established in 2010, the working group is an engaged coalition that supports the effective implementation of the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act (2017) and the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (UNSCR 1325).

Each year, USIP’s Women Building Peace Council reviews a shortlist of the top nominations and selects the annual finalists and award recipient. The Council is a brain trust of distinguished experts and leaders in the fields of gender and peacebuilding who offer their guidance and support to USIP as we elevate the voices of women peacebuilders.

USIP’s award is different from other prominent awards for women in two key ways: First, the Women Building Peace Award focuses on women in civil society who are working on the front lines of conflict. Second, the award recognizes women at the grassroots level who have not previously received global recognition for their peacebuilding efforts. USIP has honored peacebuilders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Kenya, and South Sudan as award recipients since establishing the award in 2019. USIP has recognized 28 women from 15 countries as finalists.

Read the stories of all award recipients and finalists here.

Nomination Eligibility Requirements

Nominees must meet all six requirements listed below to move forward in the award selection process. Self-nominations are not permitted.

  1. The nominee must be a living woman of at least 18 years of age. Posthumous nominations are not accepted.
  2. The nominee must be a non-U.S. citizen.
  3. The nominee must be working to build peace in a fragile or conflict-affected country or region. A fragile country or region is one at high risk for violent conflict.
  4. The nominee must be able and willing to travel to the United States, participate in a social media campaign, and speak publicly about her work.
  5. The nominee cannot be employed by USIP or have been affiliated with USIP as a contractor, grantee, or fellow during the 24 months prior to the submission of this nomination.
  6. The nominee cannot be a prior recipient of the Women Building Peace Award.

Award Selection Criteria

Commitment to Peace

The nominee shows a commitment to peace through her work to prevent or resolve conflict nonviolently. She has persisted in the face of profound barriers and personal risk. She inspires others through her personal courage.

Exceptional Leadership

The nominee demonstrates exceptional leadership through her vision, integrity, and collaboration, and has earned the respect of others in the pursuit of peace. She raises and legitimizes the views of marginalized communities. She is a catalyst for change.

Outstanding Practitioner

The nominee has a coherent focus on peacebuilding and grounds her work in practical experiences. She has adapted her peacebuilding work to changing conflict dynamics. She is exceptionally skilled and innovative in her use of the tools of peacebuilding. Her work serves as a model for others.

Substantial Impact

The nominee’s work has demonstrated significance in a conflict context of strategic importance and has led to tangible, quantifiable results. She has developed her peacebuilding efforts from local origins (grassroots, bottom-up).  Her efforts strengthen civil society and make a positive impact on community resilience, cultural norms and attitudes.

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.

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?
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.

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. 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. 

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.

If you have questions about the Women Building Peace Award, please email All email queries will receive a response within one business day.