Ilze Dzenovska



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Abstract or Description

In the following pages, you will find narrative stories about a Woman PeaceMaker, along with additional information to provide a deep understanding of a contemporary conflict and one person’s journey within it. These complementary components include a brief biography of the peacemaker, a historical summary of the conflict, a timeline integrating political developments in the country with personal history of the peacemaker, a question-and-answer transcript of select interviews, and a table of best practices in peacebuilding as demonstrated and reflected on by the peacemaker during her time at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.

In one of the poorest countries in the world, Shinjita Alam has dedicated much of her life to highlighting the connection between poverty and conflict, especially regarding the treatment of women in the domestic sphere and its repercussions for development. While studying for a degree in social welfare from the University of Dhaka, Alam worked with impoverished women in the slums of the capital, counseling them and providing primary-level education. She then went on to work for the nongovernmental organization Families for Children, conducting home visits to 100 women marginalized from their communities because they were widowed or divorced. Alam raised their level of education and awareness of their rights as citizens, while also providing skills-building trainings for employment.

After working for several years in the agricultural and job creation programs for the Bangladesh office of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) – where she managed income-generating projects for women and mediated many domestic disputes within families – Alam initiated and oversaw their peace program, the first of its kind in Bangladesh. The program trained representatives from local organizations in traditional modes of conflict resolution and developed peace education curricula for use in schools across the country. Alam has also worked on behalf of the Garo people of northern Bangladesh, whose culture is distinct from the rest of the Bengali population. The largely Christian Garos often clash with Muslim Bengalis over land rights. With the Garo leadership, Alam formed a peace committee which could identify underlying causes of conflict and formulate how to resolve them. She also organized forums for interfaith dialogue between the Garo and Bengali, and opened lines of communication between the local government and the Garo people for resolution of land disputes.

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peacebuilding, Women PeaceMakers, Bangladesh


Peace and Conflict Studies

THE CANDLE OF BANGLADESH: The Life and Work of Shinjita Alam