News & Updates
March 6, 2014
Sharon Edington is a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Bradford in the UK studying for her MA in Conflict, Security and Development. Prior to commencing her Rotary Fellowship, Sharon worked for eight years in various contexts including the West Bank, the Republic of Georgia, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Chile’s Atacama Desert. This work primarily focused on women’s empowerment and human rights across a variety of areas including agriculture and livelihoods.
Sharon is interested in enhancing her skills regarding emergency response work, which led her to recently undertake a five week volunteer role supporting the Syria crisis response in Beirut. In future, Sharon will seek out roles that combine policy change and advocacy with practical programmatic support to affected communities, in order to seek the higher level changes that will enable sustainable development for vulnerable communities.
We asked each Peace Fellow two interview questions. Here are Sharon’s answers:
1. What is your opinion about the prospects of an end to armed conflict in the next 50 years?
Due primarily to the implications of climate change, I’m not optimistic unless change starts now. The decisions we are making today are going to lead to increased stress on already vulnerable populations, which may well lead to tension with those countries who are prepared to protect their ‘way of life’ at the cost of others. We can’t afford to be complacent, as we live in a global community. That is why citizens of Western countries can’t afford to stop trying to improve our own societies through promoting fair policies based on human compassion as well as pragmatism.
2. What do you believe are the three most important contributing factors to fostering peace within and among nations?
▪ To slightly amend the famous quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. Our leaders act in our name. We are responsible for holding them to account, keeping them honest, and promoting fair and just policies (domestically and internationally). Too often citizens of lucky countries (like Australia) don’t reflect enough on what we can do to make the world a better place.
▪ Balanced and equitable international trade practices and regulations: Currently the scales are heavily stacked against developing countries by the global economic system. It is important to emphasize the role of national good governance in developing countries, but there are changes necessary at the international level also.
▪ The end to impunity: Leaders who make decisions to send their citizens to war should be held to the highest levels of accountability in regard to how that war is practiced. I welcome the prosecutions of Charles Taylor and others, and I hope that in future we see the same standards applied to Western leaders where appropriate.
It is a privilege to introduce Sharon Edington, a Young Peacemaker who has already accrued considerable field experience in areas of the world where the full spectrum of challenges to building peaceful, sustainable communities exists. Her focus on the empowerment of women to become leaders in their communities by virtue of understanding what is necessary to build and sustain livelihoods is a theme that is gaining momentum thanks to people from all walks of life everywhere in the world who see that the inequality of access to resources simply has no rational explanation. It is a product of greed and the determination to live by standards based on the idea that some people are born more worthy than others to share in the resources of the Earth.
While much remains to be done to build a world in which full equality in every life is the norm, activists like Sharon, who are working in their preferred way toward that goal, provide irrefutable proof that it will one day be reality. Sharon Edington and the Rotary Peace Fellows you have met so far lift all of us up with motivation and inspiration. We will continue to feature people and groups working in any and all aspects of peacebuilding.
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