Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

14. January 2010

Women´s eNews Logo © Women´s eNews

Edit Schlaffer 09 © Sabine Hauswirth

Edit Schlaffer

Edit Schlaffer: One of the 21 leaders for the 21st Century!

On January 1st 2010 Women's eNews announced the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century
2010, “a remarkable array of talent and determination that renews our optimism about what will be accomplished this year and for years to come”.

Edit Schlaffer, founder of Women without Borders, is honoured to be receiving this award during a time when violent extremism is affecting all of our lives and the world is beginning to recognize the great potential of women to challenge violent extremism.
Women´s experiences, energy and their central role in families and communities are the cornerstones of the new smart power. They will play a key role in developing the counter-narratives that challenge the climate of extremism.
The gala will take place on May 6th in the Jumeirah Essex House, Central Park, New York.

Edit Schlaffer, Transformer Across National Boundaries

The concept of social justice motivated Edit Schlaffer to use her skills as a social scientist to collect evidence about women in countries of crisis and transition. In 2002, the former sociology lecturer founded Women without Borders, an action-oriented global think tank, to empower women as agents of change.
Schlaffer grew up on a farm in Austria idolizing two women: her grandmother, who taught her to believe in herself, and Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who over 100 years ago rang the alarm bells in a poetic and persuasive way: "The stars of eternal truth and right have always shone in the firmament of human understanding."
To bring those stars down to Earth and translate this truth into reality are the ongoing inspirations for Schlaffer and her work. She is convinced that women do have a deeper understanding of relationships because they are instrumental for weaving the fabrics of their societies together.

Schlaffer has designed a number of groundbreaking projects focused on building female self-confidence as a key tool in establishing a female powerbase in countries that are transitioning from tradition to modernity, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda and India.
These projects include realizing girls' football teams in Rwanda to enhance empowerment and trauma healing, hosting basketball games for Afghan girls to celebrate their liberty, and teaching swimming classes to women in the South Indian tsunami region.
"These programs were successful in challenging women to become competent and active participants in rebuilding their communities," Schlaffer says.

Women without Borders is setting the stage for new conversations and debates about violent extremism. In 2008 Schlaffer created SAVE – Sisters Against Violent Extremism, the first women's counter-terrorism platform. Headquartered at the Women without Borders offices in Vienna, SAVE brings together a broad spectrum of women determined to create a united front against violent extremism.
The goal of SAVE is to provide women with tools to critically debate and challenge extremist thinking, as well as to develop alternative strategies to combat terrorism. 

"SAVE links the collective female know-how to create a new sisterhood for a world without violent extremism," Schlaffer says.

SAVE has started chapters in India, Spain, Northern Ireland, Yemen and the United Kingdom and has launched two global campaigns: "Schools and Students Against Violent Extremism" and "Mothers for Change!" These campaigns provide the young generation and mothers who raise the next generation with constructive alternatives to the subversive appeal of extremist ideologies.
"Women have found effective ways of resolving conflicts from Northern Ireland to Liberia," she says. "Their actors were not generals and military strategists, but women with compassion who decided to listen to the other side."



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