PeaceWoman of the Month
Swiss Pioneer in Development Cooperation
Elizabeth Neuenschwander was born in Schangnau in 1929. As a young woman already, she felt the need to discover the world beyond Swiss Emmental. After her education as a dressmaker, she moved to Denmark where she studied at the adult education center of Hilleröd. She later got involved in development and humanitarian projects in various countries. She worked for example for the ICRC in Nigeria during the Biafran War, a cruel experience that marked her for life.
Since her retirement, she is leading her own development projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she founded several schools. Besides the education of children, Elizabeth is also organising sewing classes for women. The sewing, in combination with reading and writing lessons, shall permit the women to build up their own source of income and thus to be independent. The fact that she herself once was able to learn a profession (in a time when in Switzerland many girls weren’t given this opportunity), affects her work until today: “It’s because of my profession that I was able to shape my own life. I want other women to have the same opportunity.” Elizabeth Neuenschwander, 85-years-old, still travels several times a year to the project countries to check on the progresses herself.
You’ll find more information on her website (German): www.elizabeth.ch.