Thursday, September 12, 2013

Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission invites all to a 2013 Women, War and Peace Conference

RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL Richmond City Council – Richmond City Hall - 900 E. Broad Street, Suite 200 - Richmond, VA 23219 - COUNCIL PUBLIC INFORMATION NEWS ADVISORY IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO BE FORWARDED AND SHARED Thursday, 12 September 2013 Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission invites all to a 2013 Women, War and Peace Conference Two day event being held in Richmond, Virginia WHAT (Richmond, Virginia U.S.A.) -- The Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission invites all to attend the upcoming 2013 Women, War and Peace Conference being held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. The conference is open to the public and everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. The conference is free with a student ID. Information on suggested donations, fees and registration information is available at: This important two day event will focus on women's roles in war and peacebuilding in the western and northern parts of Africa, and how these realities can be transformed into opportunities for social and economic wellness. The conference will include films, panel discussions, musical events, workshops, research presentations, food and honored guests. Special guest speakers include Ms. Abigail Disney, Executive Producer of the Public Broadcasting Service TV series Women, War, and Peace, and His Excellency Al Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita, Ambassador of Mali. The event grew out of a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Peace Education Center, Virginia Friends of Mali, and the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission, all of which are working hand in hand to highlight Virginia’s links to Africa and to develop and nurture collaboration between schools, universities, organizations, and community groups that will help strengthen the network between scholars in the field of human development. WHEN Friday, September 20, 2013: 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Saturday, September 21, 2013: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. WHERE Virginia Commonwealth University Student Commons 907 Floyd Avenue; Richmond, Virginia 23284 WHO Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond Peace Education Center Virginia Friends of Mali CONTACT For more information, please contact Julia Martin or Sam McKinney at or visit BACKGROUND ______________________________________________________________________ 2013 Women, War and Peace Conference Background and Additional Information ____ Films on Women, War & Peace The conference title is inspired by the 2011 Public Broadcasting Service series of films on Women, War and Peace, in particular Pray the Devil Back to Hell, the story of Nobel Prize winner Leymah Gbowee (founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation) who helped lead a women’s peace movement against the warlords and the regime of Dictator Charles Taylor during Liberia’s devastating civil war. In addition to screening this film at the conference, film producer Abigail Disney will provide a keynote address on the first night of the conference, discussing the film itself and the work of the Gbowee Peace Foundation USA. Three other major films will also be shown. These include: The Burkinabé film La Nuit de la Vérité (“The Night of Truth”), The Manuscripts of Timbuktu and Hijos de la nubes: la última colonia (“Sons of the Clouds”). The Burkinabé film La Nuit de la Vérité presents an imaginary war that could have taken place almost anywhere in Francophone Africa. The Manuscripts of Timbuktu includes a commentary on the library of Timbuktu and its importance in Africa that rivals that of European libraries during a similar period. Hijos de la nubes: la última colonia is a documentary about the human and political cost of the occupation of western part of the Sahara Desert. It was produced by Javier Bardem and developed with the support of Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Research Panels During planning sessions, Virginia Friends of Mali and the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission focused their attention on the war in Mali during 2012-13. The Malian Ambassador, His Excellency Almaamoun Baba Laminé Keita, will give a keynote address at the Saturday luncheon, and he will provide an overview and an update on the status of peace in Mali following the war in North Mali in 2012-13 and the French and United Nations intervention in 2013. Receiving medals after the Ambassadorial keynote address will be two famous Malian peace activists from Timbuktu, Ibrahim ag Youssouf and Zakiyatou oualett Haletine. Their biographies are found under the “Special Guests” section of the conference website. Academic, Professional, and Community Development With a strong ambition to spread knowledge about peace efforts in the western part of Africa, the 2013 Women, War and Peace Conference is holding workshops, information tables, poster sessions, and research and topic panel sessions to engage in discourse with attendees. These peace efforts relate to the social sciences and how they have influenced the humanities, sciences, health, politics, and other disciplines. The collaboration of students and faculty plays a vital role in research as it encourages students to become engaged in the learning process, enhances their academic experience, and provides them opportunities to contribute to the Richmond community where they live. The conference facilitates this collaboration as Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Peace Education Center, Virginia Friends of Mali, and the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission have brought together their combined efforts to host the 2013 Women War and Peace in Africa Conference. Background on the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission ___________________ One of Richmond City Council's more than 50 boards, task forces and commissions created to assist with providing oversight of certain projects and priorities, the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission was established by Richmond City Council in 1980 and operates under Council guidelines and by requirements of the Sister Cities International organization, located in Washington, D.C. The Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission consists of 13 members, of whom at least one is a Councilmember. Commission members are appointed by Richmond City Council for a term consisting of three years and no person appointed is eligible to serve more than two successive terms, although persons appointed to fill vacancies may serve two additional successive terms. Members appointed to the Commission are required to either reside or work in the City of Richmond. Originally comprised of 19 members, in 2009 membership was lowered to 13. An early champion of international relations, Richmond began a relationship with its namesake, Richmond Upon Thames, England, in 1930. In 1956 a formal Sister City concept was established in the United States of America by U. S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Eisenhower's idea called for exchanges between Americans and people in other countries, with a goal of fostering peace, understanding and harmony. The term “Sister City” is used to express a closeness that is engendered through commonalities between communities. Formal friendships are then established to promote cultural understanding and educational and economic prosperity. For example, cities linked with Richmond are generally capital cities with comparable populations, notable points of historic interest, and potential opportunities for economic development and trade. Globally, there are more than 2,400 Sister City partnerships in 134 countries. Nineteen Virginia cities represent approximately 50 of those partnerships. This includes seven in Richmond. Richmond Sister City Relationships Richmond currently maintains the following Sister City relationships: 1. Richmond upon Thames, England (Europe) 2. Saitama City, Japan (Asia) 3. Windhoek, Namibia (Africa) 4. Zhengzhou, China (Asia) 5. Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa) Interest Throughout the year, Richmond City Council receives requests from citizens and interested cities regarding its Sister Cities Program, which are shared with the Commission. Recent Sister Cities Activities _________________________________________________________ Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa) Richmond’s partnership with Segou, Republic of Mali is Richmond's city’s newest Sister City relationship. Richmond and the city of Segou, Republic of Mali, became Sister Cities in 2009 following the adoption of Richmond City Council Resolution 2009-R99-109, adopted July 27, 2009 that invited Segou to be a formal Sister City of Richmond, and the formalization of the relationship in Richmond on October 12, 2009 with a visiting delegation of dignitaries from Segou. In April 2010 Richmond was awarded an $115,000 grant from Sister Cities International for a two-year African Sustainability Project that will be used to assist with performing projects in Segou that will assist with addressing sanitation, health, and water issues. On May 10, 2010 Richmond City Council received and welcomed a visiting delegation from the Republic of Mali. The delegation included six members of the country’s government who were in Richmond for the day as part of a government training program sponsored by the Institute for Global Training, USAID in Washington D.C. and were being show state and local government by the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center’s Virginia Institute of Government. On October 6, 2010 the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission and members of Richmond City Council and the Richmond Government Administration welcomed The Honorable Ousmane K. Simaga, Mayor of Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa); The Honorable Madani Sissoko, Councilman, Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa), President of the Segou Sister City Commission; and, a number of additional dignitaries from Segou, Republic of Mali (Africa), during its monthly meeting. Richmond upon Thames, England (Europe) 2008 visit from the Mayor and Councilmember's to Richmond; 2007 visit of Mayor and Councilmembers. Coordinated planning and events leading up to Virginia’s 400th-year celebration in 2007. Zhenghou, China (Asia) Continue supporting teacher exchanges and exchanges of art and culture through museums, economic trips to China (conducted by Governor of Virginia with representation from Richmond). A book collection was presented to Richmond citizens from Zhengzhou citizens, which is displayed at the City’s Main Library. Saitama, Japan (Asia) Annual student, academic, sports and cultural exchange programs. • From August 3-8, 2012 Richmond welcomed Japanese Little League Baseball team players for the 18th Richmond City Council Sister Cities Richmond-Saitama International Junior Baseball Exchange. This exchange marked the return to the exchange for the first time since 2010, as the 2011 events were canceled due to tragic earthquake and tsunami that severely impacted Japan. During their week-long stay, the little leaguers enjoyed international cultural exchange and played baseball games with Little League in the Richmond area. The visiting Saitama team included 17 players, one City Official, four coaches and an emergency technician. The first baseball exchange began in Richmond in 1994 and rotates each year from Richmond to Saitama. The visit, games and friendships fostered during the little leaguers’ visit to Richmond are sterling examples of the partnership and collaboration between Richmond and Saitama, one of Richmond’s six international Sister City relationships. • On June 23, 2012, three educators visited Richmond from Saitama, Japan for two weeks as part of Richmond Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program. That marks the 13th year of this successful educational exchange program which began in 1998. • In March of 2012, 10 high school students and two teachers from Urawa Municipal High School in Saitama, Japan visited Richmond to as part of a week-long Richmond Sister Cities Commission Educational Exchange program. Windhoek, Namibia (Africa) August 2007: the U.S. State Department brought a camera crew to Richmond from Windhoek coordinated events. July 2003: Richmond donated a Fire Truck to Windhoek. For more information regarding the Richmond City Council Sister Cities Commission, please visit its website, at - end - ______________________________________ Steven R. Skinner, APR Council Public Information Manager RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL OFFICE OF THE COUNCIL CHIEF OF STAFF Richmond City Hall 900 E. Broad Street, Suite 305 Richmond, Virginia 23219 804.646.6052 (office) 804.335.4054 (mobile) 804.937.1386 (home/mobile) 804.646.5468 (fax) (email) ____________________________________________ MISSION The mission of Richmond City Council is to represent citizens in creating and amending local laws, providing government policy and oversight, and approving the city budget. VISION Richmond City Council is committed to creating a vibrant community that is a great place to live, work, learn, play, visit and raise a family.