Alice Wairimu Nderitu is the 2017 Global Pluralism Award recipient. The Award recognises individuals, organisations, governments or business that solve the challenge of living peacefully and productivity with diversity. The Award also honours people who have made extraordinary strides and achievements in peacebuilding, mediation and pluralism. Nderitu is currently a Senior Advisor at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Nderitu’s journey started back when she was a child when she eavesdropped on a group of elders meeting. The group of only men, was discussing how to deliver justice on matters within the community. Watching the elders inspired her to aspire to be a peace builder in the community.
Nderitu has been able to achieve her dream. She became a member of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, a government agency whose mission is to promote a Kenyan society that lives in harmony and in peace. She was the only woman among the mediators after the 2007-2008 Post-election violence.
In the lead up to the Constitutional referendum in 2010 and the 2013 elections, Nderitu founded and chaired the Uwiano Platform for Peace. Uwiano is a Swahili word for cohesion. Some of the aims of the platform included conflict prevention, management and resolution and constructive negotiation and rapid response initiatives to minimise violence and conflict within the country.
Away from Kenya, she has taken part in bringing women into all levels of the peace process in a dialogue between nine communities in Jos, Nigeria. In southern Kaduna, in Nigeria, she was the lead mediator in an armed conflict between 29 ethnic communities, resulting in the Kafanchan Peace Declaration. She was also instrumental in the dialogue process between 56 ethnic communities in Nigeria’s southern Plateau. She became the first woman to be a lead mediator.
It is from these actions and the inclusion of women and children all process that saw the Global Centre for Pluralism award her in recognition of her outstanding efforts. The Global Centre for Pluralism recognised her work in promoting pluralism at all levels and in conflict resolution as well as the inclusion of diverse voices in respectful dialogue to achieve long-lasting peace.
For Nderitu, working for peaceful co-existence calls for understanding the core values of the rival parties, accepting their culture and not diluting their existence. She acknowledges that men dominate the peace and security sector, meaning that women are either under-represented or left-out.
In her letter of gratitude published in the Daily Nation, Nderitu reiterated the inclusion of women’s role in peace process.
“Of all the inclusions sought in peace processes worldwide, the women’s role is the most contested. In Nigeria, we have changed that narrative by entrenching women’s participation with men and youth; using inclusive language, and making reference to both men and women rather than to people or groups,” she wrote.
She also added that the award has given her a platform to not only continue her work but also create opportunities for both men and women.