In a world torn and threatened by wars, the work of advancing and sustaining peace is an urgent imperative. Women, in their gendered roles of settling disputes, healing, and nurturing, have risen to the task in many conflict-ridden communities. However, they have typically been left out of the decision-making processes that are crucial in ending wars and transforming the polity.
A peace negotiator in the Philippines, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has been changing this landscape. Her impassioned engagement in political issues started in the late 1970s, when, as a student activist, she joined the resistance against martial rule.
After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Coronel-Ferrer felt the need to find peaceful resolutions to the many armed conflicts that continued to divide the country. With other women peacebuilders, Coronel-Ferrer initiated the drafting of the Philippines’ first National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security which was eventually adopted by the government in 2010 as part of its commitment to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
In the latter part of 2012, Coronel-Ferrer became the Chairperson for the Philippine Government’s Peace Panel tasked to negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed in 2014 by the Philippine government and MILF. Coronel-Ferrer sees this achievement more modestly: “There is no perfect agreement, but we make it more imperfect by leaving women out of the process.”
In 2020, Coronel-Ferrer co-founded the Southeast Asian Women Peace Mediators, a pioneering group of women engaged in convening safe spaces for dialogues and supporting mediation initiatives in countries like Myanmar and Afghanistan.
The RMAF board of trustees recognizes her deep, unwavering belief in the transformative power of non-violent strategies in peace building, her cool intelligence and courage in surmounting difficulties to convey the truth that it is through inclusion rather than division that peace can be won and sustained, and her unstinting devotion to the agenda of harnessing the power of women in creating a just and peaceful world.