Edit Schlaffer, a social scientist and trained psychoanalyst, founded Women without Borders in 2001 aiming to build up the competence and confidence of women in order to effect positive social change in marginalized and neglected communities across the world. Her work focuses on gender-based peacebuilding strategies that harness the strength of civil society in building a new security architecture from the bottom up.
Women without Border’s founding principles and successes reflect Dr Schlaffer’s achievements in every dimension of her work. As an academic at the University of Vienna, she published Austria’s first study on domestic violence, became a leading authority on female empowerment during her time as the head of an influential Austrian thinktank, and published numerous bestsellers based on in-depth sociological studies. Responding to the growing threat of violent extremism, in 2008 Schlaffer launched the Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) network, the world’s first female counter-extremism platform. In developing and implementing the MotherSchools: Parenting for Peace model, her Preventing Violent Extremism research introduced and has since normalized the concept of mothers as the first line of defence against extremism.
In recognition for her innovative work, Schlaffer received numerous prestigious awards, including Reader’s Digest’s European of the Year (2018), Foreign Policy’s 100 Global Thinkers (2016), the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria (2016), Soroptimist International of Europe Peace Prize (2015), Aenne Burda Award for Creative Leadership (2015), Newsweek’s 150 Movers and Shakers (2011), and Women’s eNews 21 Leaders of the 21st Century (2010). She is an Ashoka Fellow, a member of the Advisory Council at Omega Women’s Leadership Center in New York and served as a Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund Civil Society Board Member.
PHOTO: © Markus Hintzen/Reader’s Digest