Shadia Marhaban was the only woman delegate to the 2005 Helsinki peace talks that ended 30 years of conflict between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement. As a presidium member of the Aceh Referendum Information Center, she was forced to flee to the United States in 2003, when the central government declared martial law in Aceh.
Ms. Marhaban became a fervent human rights activist in the US, continuing to represent SIRA as its international relations chief. Upon her return to Aceh after the Helsinki peace accord, she served for a year as special anti-corruption adviser to the governor. More recently, as president and co-founder of the Aceh Women’s League, Ms. Marhaban helps female former combatants return to civilian life. She also chairs the national caucus for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which requires parties in a conflict to support women’s participation in peace negotiations and reconstruction.
Ms. Marhaban has advocated for women’s peacebuilding involvement in South Thailand, Mindanao (Philippines), Timor-Leste, and Nepal. Working with former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, she has traveled across South and Southeast Asia promoting women’s engagement in post-conflict management. Ms. Marhaban studied international relations at Jakarta’s National University and is a 2011-2012 Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, researching post-conflict management, gender, and political transformation.