International: Anonyma

Even if they made me a gift of a better world, I would refuse it. My home is with those who have no rights – women, children, and men.

— Anonyma

Anonyma is her name – she represents all the women we were not able to reach, or whose names we could not publish for fear of jeopardizing their work. Anonyma may belong to a marginalized minority group. She may be a farmer battling for access to land and clean water. She may be a scientist who publicizes abuses, organizes peace watches and faces threats to her life. She makes violence and its mechanisms visible to others. Anonyma is a name synonymous with courage, peaceful action and the future. Whoever she is, and wherever she is, she lives in a world in which working for peace is dangerous.

Anonyma’s life stories differ widely. It may be that Anonyma was born in a country that never welcomed her, since she is member of a minority group. There were schools in this country, but they were for others. Educational opportunities were closed to her. There was paid work, but not for her. She had no rights. Her sisters and mother before her had had no rights either. She may have been beaten and exploited. Many years later, having married, born children, endured blows, hunger and aggression, she met women who were caught in the same vicious circle as herself. Often clandestinely, and in fear for their lives, they fought to break out of their terrible isolation, exclusion and disenfranchisement; out of illiteracy and exploitation. Or maybe Anonyma lives in a country which we shall call X. Her peace work prompted us to ask her and her network to nominate peacewomen. At the time, the political situation in X was extremely volatile and dangerous. A bomb exploded in the neighborhood the day of their first meeting. No one was hurt, but it was clear that there were people who would go to any lengths to keep Anonyma and others from joining an international network and the 1000 peacewomen project. They refused to let themselves be intimidated. They decided not to nominate anyone, so that they could continue with their work. Then again Anonyma might be a very young woman who rescues children from bombed-out houses. She thinks they should go to school, since children have a right to education, even in times of war. She and the children use various ruses to reach the ruined schoolhouse. The children read and write, they sing softly so as not to be heard by the enemy soldiers. Anonyma is aware of the danger but she is brave, brave for the children and for her shattered country. She gets caught, is raped and tortured. Yet she perseveres– children have a right to education.