We are thrilled to share with you the big news that our compa and team member María Eugenia, or Maru as known by friends and communities, is the recipient of the United States Institute of Peace’s (USIP) 2022 Women Building Peace Award!

Besides being part of the FORPP team, Maru is the legal representative of Comunidades Construyendo Paz en Colombia (CONPAZCOL), a grassroots network of 140 victims organizations, accompanied by FORPP, where violent conflict continues. As a peacebuilder and human rights defender, Maru 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.

How did Maru become a Human Rights Defender?

Maru was born into a family of farmers in one of Colombia’s poorest and most violent regions. Her beloved uncle was a well-known activist with a local social justice movement. In 1991, her uncle was assassinated by a police squad in a nighttime raid, sending fear and panic throughout her family. She recalls that they were too afraid to send someone to identify his body the next day. It was 17-year-old Maru who went to the morgue to claim his body, deformed by gunfire.

“When we brought his body home, I promised him that I would follow his path of struggling for justice for all people,”

she says. That vow has defined her life.

The independent Women Building Peace Council, which is made up of distinguished experts and advisers in the fields of gender and peacebuilding, guided the process of selecting six finalists from this year’s nominations and chose the award winner.

The council stated Maru’s selection was based on her skills and track record in using the many instruments of peacebuilding, her effectiveness in representing traditionally marginalized communities during the peace talks in Havana, and the impact of her 30-year commitment to advancing peace in Colombia.

“María Eugenia Mosquera Riascos is a champion for justice, dignity and peace in Colombia,”

said USIP President and CEO Lisa Grande, and added:

“She is a great peacemaker.”

 

 

Read the press release here.

Read more about Maru’s work here.