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The 11 days of peace collection of stories features women who are or have been partners of MCC at some point, or who are known to MCC in some way. Most of these women work at a grassroots level, whereas some have attained leadership roles in their specific contexts. Some of these women would identify themselves as peacebuilders while others would say that they are only going about their daily lives. While each story focuses on an individual woman, it is important to remember that these individuals are members of larger networks of women working for peace.

Jawahir Mohamed Muse currently serves as a senior government administrative officer in Nairobi, Kenya. Her primary job is to maintain peace and security within the community of Eastleigh. It is very unusual for a woman – especially a Muslim woman – to rise to her position in such a male-dominated part of Nairobi. This speaks to her strength and wisdom as a peacemaker and community member.

Muse’s peaceful approach to conflict between police officers and the youths of Eastleigh community has been seen by many in this area as an act of restorative justice. Her initiative to work with the notorious youth of Eastleigh is also viewed as a measure to address radicalization and has earned her a good reputation among her peers within the county. This has facilitated her collaboration with many individuals and organizations working for peace in the community, including the Nairobi diocese of the Kenya Mennonite Church.

In a religiously diverse urban setting like Eastleigh, the dynamics surrounding interfaith relations (primarily between Christians and Muslims), and refugees and the host population (Kenyans) can become unstable. Misconceptions and stereotypes about faith groups and the refugees are sometimes intense. Muse’s job involves creating an environment where all can feel safe and secure to run their businesses and lives without threat.

She does this in a variety of ways: by regularly organizing and hosting public peace and security talks in the community, by mediating conflicts between individuals and groups and by organizing barazas (publicly held meetings with the chiefs from the community). Her mediation extends to domestic cases, inter-group conflicts, religious conflicts, and business rivalry conflicts.

Before serving as assistant chief, she was actively involved in spearheading peacebuilding activities through women’s groups, youth groups and through public awareness campaigns. She served as a community facilitator in peacebuilding and conflict management and as a community mobilizer.

[Story provided by Selena McCoy Carpenter, MCC Kenya representative, and Fredrick Bobo, program officer for the Centre for Peace and Nationhood of the Kenya Mennonite Church.]

MCC has gathered stories of Women Peacebuilders as part of our annual Peace Sunday Packet. The complete 2016 Peace Sunday Packet can be viewed here.