The Peace Projects Award Ceremony, organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), took place at the Zaman daily's headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 31, 2014. The Peace Projects grant program supports innovative projects that focus on building peace while preventing, managing, and resolving violent conflicts.
This year, the Peace Projects program evaluated 1,179 project proposals from 107 countries. Of those, 17 were chosen as finalists in early May. The finalists were invited to Istanbul for this weekend's award ceremony, where 10 of the projects were chosen to each receive a grant worth up to $50,000.
The charts below show the list of ten grant recipients followed by the list of five other finalists. Please note that the projects are sorted by project ID numbers and not by scores.
All of these projects involved multiple peacebuilding strategies, ranging from dialogue to environmental responsibility to social and economic development. The projects also respected human rights, gender equality, and the empowerment of women.
In May 2016, the ten grant recipients will be evaluated again, and awards will be given to the three most successfully-implemented projects.
JWF President Mustafa Yesil delivered the opening remarks at the award ceremony this weekend. Noting that merely saying no to war is not enough to create peace, Yesil emphasized the importance of these projects and their dedication to solving specific problems. He also said that the Peace Project grants are to be given annually, and applications for the next year of grants are now open.
Additional remarks were provided by journalist Herkul Millas, a consultant for the Peace Projects program, and Kerim Balci, a Zaman columnist and the editor-in-chief of the Turkish Review. Millas praised the projects for bringing attention to the problems people are grappling with in today's world. Balci added that peace would not be possible without women's contributions.
It was also noted that Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen had supported JWF's Peace Projects program by donating the honorarium that accompanied the Manhae Peace Prize he received last year.
The Peace Projects Award Ceremony was part of the opening ceremony for another JWF event: the Istanbul Summit, an international forum focused on women's perspectives regarding the United Nations' post-2015 development agenda. The summit began on May 31 and ended on June 1.
What was especially memorable was also the reality that the Peace Projects and the Istanbul Summit benefited me professionally and personally, opened up my mind and gave me even more to become passionate about peace, dialogue and commitment to welfare of all humanity.