Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Religion and the Role of Women in Peace

Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is a peace negotiator and former chairperson of the peace panel, appointed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III of the Philippines.  She successfully signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and is thus the first female negotiator to ever sign a peace accord with a rebel group. While this is extremely inspiring, it shines a light on how unequal world politics is.

Professor Coronel-Ferrer suffered many consequences for her negotiations with what Senator Alan Peter Cayetano called terrorists. Doctored images of herself were published on the internet, she received many death threats and was accused of treason by Filipino netizens. The professor however, keeps her head up and accepts it as part of the job – a true inspiration for other women to support one another, brush off the negativity and keep going.

Coronel-Ferrer is a professor of political science at the University of the Philippines and has published many books and journals on peace processes, human rights and civil society.  She comes from a very liberal family where she was “allowed to pursue her own interests”.  The professor studied philosophy at the University of the Philippines, and then went on to get a master’s degree in Southeast Asian studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury.  However, she says it was her 1980’s experience as a student, when power was taken from the dictatorship by the people of the Philippines, that shaped her career and life.  In 2010, after being involved in many campaigns, she was appointed head of negotiations by President Aquino III.  In 2012, on December 7th, she was assigned chairperson of the peace panel.

Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has received many awards including most notably, in 2015, winning the Hillary Clinton award for Women, Peace and Security.