Tribute to Annie Nushan
Tribute to Annie Nushan
On 20 July 2022, Liberia lost one of the renowned peace building champions in the country, Anne Nushan, 64, who died at a local hospital after a long illness.
Many people from the United Nations, civil society organisations and women’s groups among others, were saddened by the news of the passing on of Ms. Nushan, who was affectionately known as ‘Ma Annie’ who served as the national Chairperson of the Peace Huts of Liberia.
The Peace Hut model was launched in 2004 to provide space for community women to discuss issues of peace and women’s empowerment. The model, through women-led mediation exercises, became an alternative justice system for rural women that lacked access to the statutory legal system due to isolation and financial constraints.
Because of her contribution to peace building in Liberia, Ms. Nushan won the 2019 UN Population Award in New York and the USAID sponsored best civil society organization in Liberia in 2020.
Ms. Nushan started the Peace Huts initiative after realising that after the war, there was a lot of violence against women, and she decided to help people in her community.
“People had trust in me because every time they had issues, they would come to me. Every time they came with problems, we would sit down, discuss, and make peace. That encouraged me to start the Peace Hut because I felt that it was going to help the poor people that need it, especially women. I felt that women did not have money to go to the courts. That’s why I decided to establish Peace Huts,” said Ms. Nushan in a previous interview with UN Women.
Ms. Nushan is one of many Liberian women who made history throughout the world for the courageous steps they took to resolve community-based conflict in post-war Liberia. About 448 Christian and Muslim women came together in 2003 to fast and pray for peace and advocated for non-violence and free movement in rebel-held areas.
As part of her volunteering work, Ms. Nushan spent much of her time hearing and resolving conflict issues. One of her notable achievements was when she led women to lay siege at a local police station when a police officer reportedly raped two (2) teenagers who had been left at the station overnight by their mother. Whilst the women barricaded the station, Ms. Nushan travelled from Totota in Bong County in north-central Liberia to the capital city, Monrovia for redress. As a result, a team was dispatched to Totota, and the police officer was arrested, charged in court, and dismissed.
UN Women worked closely with Peace Huts women in Liberia. Under the leadership of Ms. Nushan, Peace Huts were showcased as a best practice peace building initiative at both the national and global level for more than a decade, said Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Liberia Country Representative, who described the late Ms. Nushan as a close partner of the organization.
“As a tribute to her contribution to peacebuilding, UN Women will continue to collaborate with Peace Hut women to ensure that Peace Huts remain sustainable in line with the late Ms. Nushan’s aspirations of empowering women,” said Ms. Lamptey.
Ghoma Karloweah, Women, Peace, and Security Programme Specialist, who worked closely with Ms. Nushan, described her death as, “… a painful moment to the Peace Huts and to Liberia. It’s a loss that will be hard to replace. She was a very brave person who would always stand up for what she believed in. She was not afraid to act and speak up. Her passion for gender equality and women’s empowerment went beyond borders. Her passion to change lives was just awesome.”
Members of the Peace Huts also shared their fond memories of Ms. Nushan describing her as a person who wanted other women to be safe and secure.
“She was a role model for many young women. She felt women were being maltreated too much and they were afraid to raise their voices. She encouraged women to raise their voices and speak out about their rights and issues that affected them as women,” said Velma Sajery, Secretary of the Weala Peace Hut, Margibi County.
As the world commemorates International Humanitarian Day, on 19 August, we pay tribute to a galant woman who committed her life to serving women and girls in Liberia.
UN Women has been supporting community women to set up Peace Huts to enhance women’s participation in peacebuilding and to empower them economically. UN Women has supported women from the Peace Huts with leadership training, capacity building, vocational skills training as well economic empowerment and creation of village savings and loan associations with financial support from the Governments of Ireland and Sweden as well as the UN Peacebuilding Fund. There are currently 37 Peace Huts in Liberia in all 15 Counties in the country.