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Ginny Bouvier: A Force for Peace

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Author: Lisa Haugaard

One determined person can make a difference between war and peace. Ginny Bouvier’s dogged, focused, thoughtful initiatives to support the Colombian peace process helped nudge the Colombian process along the road to final accords.

Ginny especially helped to foster the role of Colombian women in the peace process. With women as a separate sector excluded at the start, Ginny encouraged, funded, and supported Colombian women’s persistent efforts to be heard at the peace table in Havana, not just as individual victims but as women, with distinct and essential perspectives if peace was to be won and upheld. She also helped lift up the voices of families of the disappeared, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, human rights activists, and victims of the conflict.

Ginny had a keen intellect, not taking the easy way out, pushing for serious answers to difficult questions. Her insightful blog Colombia Calls: Notes on a nation’s struggle for peace and justice is a vivid history of the peace talks in the making. In her role at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Ginny brought together Colombian and U.S. government officials, other international diplomats, scholars, journalists, ex-combatants, and Colombian and U.S. civil society activists in thoughtful, visionary yet practical conversations about how to move peace forward.

Columnist Aldo Civico in the Colombian paper El Espectador rightly called her “Ginny de la Paz.”

I valued Ginny Bouvier tremendously as a colleague and partner in efforts by U.S. civil society as well as the U.S. government to support Colombian efforts to end a fifty-year war that has killed over 260,000 people and displaced over 7 million women, men and children.

We were also friends.

Ginny lived and breathed the Colombian peace process. As friends during August we would go to the Martin Luther King community swimming pool on New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, between our houses. There, we would wade into the lazy river and float on inner tubes. We would go round and round the lazy river together, under the waterfalls, with all the happily shouting children and teenagers, talking about the Colombian peace process, what was happening at the peace talks in Havana, the latest wrinkle in the ELN negotiations… every last detail.

Of course, despite her capacity for focus, Ginny was hardly one-dimensional. She was deeply committed to her wonderful family, to her husband Jim and daughter Maya, and she was a good friend.

Ginny, the Colombian peace process will miss you. The world will miss you. So will I.

—Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group