Empowering women and girls through education with the goal of ending gender-based violence is the mission for Angela Peabody, a Liberian woman who survived a violent coup d’etat. It resulted in a military attack on her family’s home, where she and her husband and sons took refuge. After a 20-minute shooting rampage, the soldiers decided not to assassinate her family.
This was just a few years after Peabody, who had been educated in the United States, had returned to Liberia to begin a successful television career. Then the civil disputes in Liberia began.
“Soon after that fateful event, I left with my family and began a new life back in DC,” she shares. “I saw so many injustices against women and girls in my life that I decided to do something about it.”
The first step was to pen “Exiled,” a tribute to the survival of the coup. It was endorsed in 2003 by the then Liberian ambassador and the Liberian minister of information.
In 2007 she created the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, with her two sons and a cousin.
“We saw the need to start an organization to help raise awareness to the public about gender-based violence, especially female genital mutilation,” Peabody explains. “We were amazed to learn not many people had heard about female genital mutilation here in the States. So we set out to raise awareness and educate American women about the practice.
“We hold workshops, forums, and panel discussions about it. In addition, we release a monthly newsletter informing girls and women how to be careful with their lives and how to protect themselves. Education is the path to empowerment. To that end, we partnered with other organizations through events and other endeavors. Today, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is known around the world.”
In 2013, Peabody published a fictional book, “When the Games Froze,” which she hopes will shed even more light on the plight of ending violence against women.
“This is a compelling story about a group of friends who come together by fate, but their friendship makes a difference in the lives of many,” Peabody explains. “Through the main character, Nana, I tell the story of what it is like to suffer through this experience, and what can be done to stop the horrible practice throughout the world.”
Peabody’s target audience is girls between the ages of 12 and 26, who are likely to fall prey to gender-based violence and those who are survivors or victims of gender-based violence.
“This past December, in fact, the school we support in Liberia contacted me and said that the senior class did not have the $20 fee each student needed to pay to take their West African examination,” she says. “This exam is the equivalent of the SAT and without taking that exam, they will not be eligible to graduate. Heart of Grace School had 120 seniors.
“The school is run only on donations from the public. I had just received my delayed tax-refund check of $2,400. I had waited for that refund for almost a year, but I knew that I had to help those poor children. I could not spend that money on myself and family knowing that the children needed it to graduate. They were so grateful for the help.”
As for 2014, Peabody will be breaking ground to begin construction on our school in Liberia, and holding its 1st annual 5K Race against gender-based violence.
Peabody is also working to add to the Foundation’s $200K annual budget, by hosting fundraisers and from proceeds from her new book, “When the Games Froze.”
“This issue is so important,” she insists. “No woman or girl has to suffer injustice. Become educated and informed. Get involved.”
For more information, visit www.globalwomanpeacefoundation.org.