Guinea-Bissau: Macaria Barai

My faith is my strength. But having said that, I am convinced that religion has become a tool used to regulate our society.

— Macaria Barai

A national of Guinea-Bissau, Madame Macaria Barai is very devoted and always available to give people her time. Having studied in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal, today she lives with her mother and her children and has 15 years of experience in fighting for peace on the one hand and on the other hand fighting for the emancipation of Guinea-Bissau women. She is a very pious woman who is widely respected nationally. Her work is highly regarded by the archbishop of Guinea-Bissau and his office.

Madame Macaria understands that one can use religion in an effective way to create a culture of peace. Her religion, therefore, is an instrument of peace. She has not stopped supporting, as a leader of a Catholic religious association, the victims of internal conflicts. Conflicts that paralyzed Guinea-Bissau under its former presidents. She assisted refugees in the conflicts of Casamance (Senegal) that fled Senegal for Guinea-Bissau and she was at the heart of the negotiations and inter-community talks as well as annual meetings between groups from neighboring countries and those of her country with religious leaders. After the military coup against the former president, she became involved with the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (Cedeao) to convince them to renounce a takeover of power and to install an interim civil president. Being involved in the management of internal conflicts is not typical in a country of Mandingue traditions where women do not have a decision-making role in the matters of the community. But the reputation of this woman leader and her religion in her country meant that she was accepted by all. Through her, Guinea-Bissau women have mobilized themselves within several peace associations that have worked to establish a dialogue between the civil populations and central power. She worked, at the same time, with people at the borders of Guinea-Bissau and neighboring countries to involve themselves in the resolution of the conflicts of the region. Her immense work serves as model since it is now accepted that a woman may be more credible in management of the important portfolios in Guinea-Bissau.

Women In Peace-building Network (WIPNET) Chamber of Commerce of Guinea-Bissau Citoyens de bonne volonté