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22 April 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – “We have gone this far in our peace process. There should be no turning back.”

This was the message lead government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer gave after receiving the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security on 22 April 2015 at the Georgetown University.

“The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro acknowledges a different narrative of our national being, one that would bridge our majority-minority divide toward a shared future where fellow-Filipinos live in peace under one flag in an undivided territory,” said Coronel-Ferrer as she expressed hope and optimism for the future of peace in Mindanao as well as for the Philippines.

Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the government peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), received the award from no less than former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton cited Coronel-Ferrer as a concrete example of a woman who has brought to life UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security passed in 2000 by being the first woman ever to chair a negotiating panel on behalf of a government in a peace process. She also recognized women as agents of change, drivers of progress, and makers of peace.

“Peace and security are only possible when women have a seat at the table. I’ve seen this in so many different ways in so many different places,” said Clinton.

In her acceptance speech, Coronel-Ferrer also highlighted the important role women played in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was signed in March 2014.

“Three out of six government signatories to the agreement are women, with myself as the chair. The MILF panel was all men. In all, just three of the 12 signatories are women. Still, it’s a big leap: nearly all past negotiations were exclusively done by men,” said Coronel-Ferrer.

“These three women were not alone. They were backed up by a strong and active contingent of women outside of the formal table. From them, we got the strength and fortitude to see the process through, a delightful dynamic of women inspiring fellow women,” Coronel-Ferrer added.

She also talked about how the peace process aims to protect women and advance their role in society.

“Our peace process, indeed, was informed by the very goals of this award: to protect women against all forms of violence and advance the role of women in attaining peace and security in and outside of their homes,” Coronel-Ferrer said.

“I speak especially of the women in the Bangsamoro, who have endured the burden of strife, and who must now secure their places in the public sphere as equal partners in peace and development,” she added.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., who attended the ceremonies, extended his congratulations to Coronel-Ferrer for her contributions to lasting peace in the Philippines.

“I would like to congratulate Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for bringing honor to the Philippines as well as the much needed hope and catalyst to achieve a lasting peace in Mindanao,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

“How fitting that former Secretary Clinton recognized women as agents of change, drivers of progress, and makers of peace,” he said, adding that Professor Coronel-Ferrer’s trailblazing efforts as chairperson and the signing of the peace agreement last year is a critical instrument of peace in Mindanao.

“I am confident that with her leadership and vision, our country will be able to achieve stability the Philippines so richly deserves,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

Aside from Professor Coronel-Ferrer, Staffan de Mistura, former UN special envoy for Afghanistan, was honored for his work to ensure inclusivity of women in Afghanistan. British Foreign Secretary William Hague was among those awarded in 2014 when the award was launched by Georgetown University.

Also present at the awarding ceremony at Georgetown University were Sheila Coronel, sister of Professor Coronel-Ferrer and Dean of Academic Affairs of the School of Journalism at Columbia University and other prominent members of the Washington, D.C. community, as well as other Georgetown University officials. ###