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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 Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

Glenda Wildschut is a South African human rights activist and peacebuilder whose work dates back to the early 1980s, when she began working with political prisoners, their families, exiles and orphaned returnee children in South Africa and Namibia. Since then she has dedicated herself to human rights activism, torture rehabilitation and healing and reconciliation.

Wildschut was born into the violence and human rights abuses of South Africa. At an early age she felt the injustice of growing up in a system designed to disadvantage and oppress people of color. On this part of her life, she reflects, “It was determined where I should attend school, which university I should study at and which professions I will not be able to even consider pursuing.” Wildschut was also arrested and harassed by police. Determined to transcend these experiences of oppression, she obtained academic qualifications both in South Africa and the U.S., and made it her life focus to advocate for reconciliation and healing of the country’s fractured past.

A registered nurse, midwife and psychiatric nurse (specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry), Wildschut is recognized as someone who combines her professional training as a psychiatric nurse and her activism to produce meaningful effects. Early in her activism career, she collaborated with a group of health workers to establish a trauma center for survivors of violence and torture - the first center of its kind in South Africa. She is the first South African to be awarded the Health and Human Rights Award by the International Institute for Nursing Ethics.

In 1995, Wildschut was appointed by former president Nelson Mandela to serve as a commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has since shared her expertise in peacebuilding and reconciliation in many countries, including Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

For over a decade, Wildschut has been a board member for the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation, helping it develop a Community Healing program which encourages community-level reconciliation. She continues to use her considerable skills, experience, passion and commitment in the journey of reconciliation and peace in South Africa.

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peacebuilding, Women PeaceMakers, South Africa


Peace and Conflict Studies

A Bridge to Truth: The Life of Glenda Wildschut of South Africa