A peacebuilder's story: Amjad, Sri Lanka

We believe that peace requires the equal participation of all members of society, including men, women, girls, boys and gender minorities.

To mark International Women's Day 2015, we are sharing the stories of our inspiring peacebuilders around the world – both men and women – and their views on peace and gender equality.

Amjad Mohamed-Saleem, Sri Lanka

Amjad is Alert's Country Representative for Sri Lanka and is based in Colombo.

Why did you decide to work in peacebuilding?

"I started life out as a civil engineer and got into the NGO field in 2005 when I came out to build houses for tsunami-affected people in Sri Lanka. I found it was easier to build houses than put people in them, especially if they were from different ethnic communities, and this triggered my interest in peacebuilding."

Why is International Women's Day important to you?

"In our busy lives, it serves as a reminder for us to take stock and realise that given all the progress we have made as a global civilisation, there is still a perennial fight to ensure that our mothers, sisters, spouses and friends deserve that level of respect and acceptability that is often denied them."

Why in your opinion is gender equality important for peacebuilding?

"Peacebuilding is about justice, compassion and equity. If we do not include gender equality within our peacebuilding work, we would be hypocritical in our approaches."

What has been your proudest moment as a peacebuilder to date?

"It has to be getting about 300 religious leaders (of all faiths) in a room in 2008 way before the conflict ended in Sri Lanka, to explore and affirm their role in post-conflict reconciliation. The energy that day when all pledged to work together was electrifying."