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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

How Women Influence Peace Negotiations and Politics Globally

An Interview with Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, CEO of The Carter Center

Ann Skeet, Senior Director of Leadership Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, interviews Ambassador Peters, an SCU alumna, about her views on women in peace and politics, the role her Jesuit Catholic education had in shaping her career, and the importance of ethics in organizations.

Mary Ann Peters

Mary Ann Peters

The importance of women in government

Sara Tangdall

On April 19, 2018, Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters, CEO of The Carter Center and SCU alumna, spoke about the importance of women in peace negotiations and politics. After her talk, Ambassador Peters was joined in conversation with SCU Women’s and Gender Studies Professor, Sharmila Lodhia.  

Ambassador Peters began her talk by explaining the “old story,” which is one where women are victims.  In this “old story,” women around the world suffer routine human rights abuses, including honor killings, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.

The ambassador said it’s important  to understand the “old story” because it shows that women are starting from behind.  The “new story” is this: Women are political and diplomatic actors. Peters pointed out that women aren’t simply becoming actors—they’re becoming effective actors.  When women are included in peace processes, the outcomes are markedly better and peace is more sustainable. 

Peters was previously ambassador to Bangladesh.  She also served as provost of the U.S. Naval War College.     

In her talk, the ambassador also touched on the important work of The Carter Center.  Many relief nonprofits are receiving scrutiny for their “bandaid” approaches in impoverished communities.instead of this ineffective and unsuccessful approach, The Carter Center employs a holistic approach to helping these communities solve problems. Additionally, instead of coming into a community and telling the people what they need to improve their quality of life, The Carter Center trusts the communities they’re working with and helps them find homegrown solutions to problems.

Peters talk was a joint event hosted by the Center’s Government, Leadership, and Social Sector Ethics programs as a Workplace Diversity Dialogue.

Additional Readings

Mary Ann Peters, “Support the Peacemakers Too”, Op-Ed, Huffington Post, February 19, 2015.

Mary Ann Peters, “A better way to improve safety at garment factories in Bangladesh”, Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor, July 3, 2013.

Mary Ann Peters and Mark P. Lagon, “Gender Equality in Politics is Still Far Away”, Op-Ed, Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2015.

Mary Ann Peters and Sue Desmond-Hellmann, “We must finish fight against diseases we’ve overlooked for too long”, Op-Ed,, December 6, 2016.

Mary Ann Peters, “Prohibit Child Marriage”, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, March 17, 2017.

Sharmila Lodhia, "From “living corpse” to India's daughter: Exploring the social, political and legal landscape of the 2012 Delhi gang rape", Women's Studies International Forum, 2015.

Jun 23, 2018