As my United Airlines flight #888 touched down in Beijing, China, today, I reflected on the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 and our 20 year global quest to #PressforProgress.

In 1997, Roots of Peace began with a vision of turning MINES TO VINES–replacing minefields with vineyards and orchards worldwide.  A few months later, I traveled to Canada to witness the signing of the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Landmines with three California vintners–Mondavi, Beringer and Wente.

As wise women told me, “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.  This can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

With the support of strong women, we trailblazed when there was no path to follow. 

And, when the path became too dangerous, we simply removed the landmines.  

And, we taught the farmers to plant.

Today, our Roots of Peace Country Directors are proudly women.  Ms. Vo Thi Lien, is based in Quang Tri, Vietnam, where 80% of the land remains riddled with deadly explosive remnants of war.  Each morning, she tells her 10 year old son not to ride his bike off the path, to avoid cluster munitions. Working tireless hours, she has organized training for over 3000 Vietnamese farmers to grow black pepper on former battlefields. And, she coordinates the transportation of container ships exporting to global markets across the Pacific. Poor rural farmers living in the former DMZ of Vietnam are the beneficiary of her successful efforts.

Across the world, Ms. Bagie Sherchard is Chief of Party for our Roots of Peace USAID/CHAMP (Commercial Horticultural Agricultural Marketing Program) based in Kabul, Afghanistan.  I met her in Dubai last month, as she astutely worked with 27 Afghan farmers to negotiate over $20 million in trade deals. Working side by side was Deputy Minister of Commerce, Ms. Kamila Sidiqi, a strong Afghan business woman. Together, we are working to open new trade ‘routes of peace’ to provide food security impacting over one million rural farmers and families.

During a time in human history when there are many political landmines, we must remain focused on protecting the innocent footsteps of our children and teach their parents to plant.

As Coretta Scott King wisely stated, “If the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe you must become the soul.”

This week, I am honored to take ‘footsteps for peace’ in China with my own son, Christian, age 22.

Together, as women, may we plant the Roots of Peace on Earth...

#pressforprogress. #rootsofpeace