In light of the critical role of women in creating a peaceful future, the 21st century has been called the Century of Women. Throughout history, women have worked tirelessly—often behind the scenes—for the peace and safety of their families and their communities. Today, women are taking leading roles in the quest for global security and equal rights. The continuing empowerment of women throughout the world is a key to solving the world’s most pressing issues, from the abolishment of nuclear weapons to poverty and hunger.
While ICAP’s new exhibit features the contributions of a few representative women, there are certainly untold millions more—both prominent and little known—who have dedicated themselves to a just and peaceful future.
Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, ICAP’s founder and a lifelong champion of the advancement of women, has said: “The conversation of women of keen perception, who are sensitive to the feelings of others, has the power to open even the most heavily barricaded heart. And it is invariably women’s cries for justice that move people to action and change the times” (My Dear Friends In America, p. 237).
Among the various extraordinary women whose accomplishments and personal statements appear in the exhibition are the following:
Betty Williams: We are deeply, passionately dedicated to the cause of nonviolence, to the force of truth and love, to soul-force. To those who say that we are naïve, utopian idealists, we say we are the true realist.
Aung San Suu Kyi: The struggle for democracy of human rights in Burma is a struggle life and dignity . . . Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential.
Shirin Ebadi: If the 21st century wishes to free itself from the cycle of violence, acts of terror and war, and avoid repetition of the experience of the 20th century . . . there is no other way except by understanding and putting into practice every human right for all mankind, irrespective of race, gender, faith, nationality or social status.”
Mother Teresa: It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.
Ellen DeGeneres: I know for sure I would never change any of the hard times I went through in my life. Because it was in those times that I grew the most and gained the most perspective. It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting.
Kaneko Ikeda: The twenty-first century must be the century of peace and humanitarianism and the century of respect for the dignity of life. Toward this end, it is increasingly important to create a century of women.
Oprah Winfrey: My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment . . . Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.
Eleanor Roosevelt: It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.