Sunday, February 28, 2021

Celebrating Another Great Cultural Heritage Story: St Gabriel's!

It's not every day that we have a great cultural heritage restoration story! Please see below a message from Linda Mishkin, President of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society and documentary film "Writer," and Diane Kline, Member of the Board of Directors and film Executive Producer. Enjoy!

Greetings friends and neighbors:

When plans to develop the historic St. Gabriel’s site in Brighton were nearing approval, some of the project's mitigation funding was earmarked for the creation of a video documenting the restoration of the spectacular Monastery and Church buildings on the property. The restoration is now complete. Our documentary tells its story.

Along with the renovation of these buildings, our video shows how development and restoration can co-exist beautifully. To achieve this successful balance, it was essential that the voices of individual community residents were heard and the desire to preserve our heritage was honored.

We hope that you enjoy watching this amazing transformation and that it will rekindle fond memories for long-time members of the St. Gabriel’s community.

Thank you,
Linda Mishkin and Diane Kline
Brighton-Allston Historical Society


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

In Celebration of Margaret ‘Peg’ Snyder by Marilyn Carr, Mina Mauerstein-Bail, & Brenda Gael McSweeney


Flyer credit: UN Women

Register in advance for this webinar at:
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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Former President of Liberia and the inspiration for The Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund International, a UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate.



by Nancy Hafkin

She was my mentor; she made my career with the UN. And she was the most selfless person I have ever known. Until her passing she never wavered from this commitment to improving the lives of women in Africa. 

See Nancy's In Memoriam to Peg Snyder here:

Peg and Nancy
Photo courtesy Comfort Lamptey,
collection Marilyn Carr


by Marilyn Carr

I first met Peg just over 45 years ago when she recruited me sight unseen to join the multi-institutional team she was putting together at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Known as the African Training and Research Centre for Women (ATRCW), this was the first centre to respond to the demands from women at the 1975 Mexico Women’s Conference to have focal points within the UN dealing directly with their many and diverse needs. Having been instrumental in bringing many African women’s voices to Mexico, it was only fitting that Peg should be chosen to head up the African Centre, and I was honoured to be invited to join the team. Although I was only 28 at the time and Peg could have chosen someone with much more experience, characteristically, she wanted to give the younger generation a chance and, thus, I became one of the many people who had their entire life changed by and owed their UN career to this extraordinary woman.

Peg's 75th Birthday Party -- staff from ATRCW, UNIFEM, UN/UNDP -- Laketch Dirasse, Nancy Hafkin, Joann Vanek, Mekdes Gebre Medhin, Teckie Gebre-Medhin, Mary Tadesse, Kristin Timothy, Ruby Sandhu-Rojon. Peg seated second from left. Myself seated right.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Following a detour through Khartoum to join Peg on a three week mission to advise the newly formed Women’s Ministry in the Sudan, complete with a flight onwards to Addis where we met with Mother Theresa, I arrived for my three year assignment at ATRCW in November 1975. I was there to advise governments on appropriate technologies for women to save time on domestic chores such as fuel and water collection and increase their productivity in agricultural work and small businesses. This was an Africa-wide assignment and a daunting task at a time when FAO was still giving training to men while women did most of the farming and UNICEF looked upon women simply as mothers rather than bread winners in their own right. Backed up by statistics collected through ECA which showed how much women were contributing to family incomes and to national economies, Peg wanted to create a new environment in which credit, training and technology would go straight to women in their roles as farmers, merchants and entrepreneurs. A theme which was to be repeated 3 years later when she went on to set up UNIFEM.

 A field trip to SEWA groups in Gujarat.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

No one could have had a better boss. Peg’s first instruction was to write a plan for what I would do for the next 3 years if no one got in my way. This I did, and she more or less then let me get on with it. Having no travel money, she persuaded UNICEF’s regional office in Nairobi to provide this and, with the support of her many friends in UN agencies, governments and NGOs throughout Africa, we were able to make a real difference. One of my favourite projects was the introduction of corn mills into Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta) to save women endless hours in grinding crops. This not only gave me the privilege of working with Brenda McSweeney – then Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP in Ouagadougou, but also the chance to marvel at how Peg bullied ECA (which was not an executing agency) into procuring grinding mills rather than paper clips. This was a pioneering pilot project and, while there were really very few grinding mills in Africa in 1975…they now can be seen in almost every village.

Myself and Peg on Mitchell Place roof garden to celebrate Wanjira Mathai's marriage. 
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Same party with Peg, bride and groom.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

The three years based in Addis were magical. Peg not only guided my career and taught me how to learn from African women themselves, she introduced me to her entire network of friends ---- many of whom, including Thelma Awori, Achola Pala, and Terry Kantai --- I still count as my own close friends today. Peg managed to secure the bungalow next to her own for me to live in while in Addis and so we were neighbours as well as colleagues and I have very fond memories of the many parties she hosted next door when Women’s Conferences were being held, and the many evening suppers we shared during curfew when they were not. I was sad when Peg left Addis to move to New York to set up UNIFEM. But, I returned to London 10 months later to rejoin the international NGO that had seconded me to ATRCW and was to continue my working relationship with Peg through many consultancies to help build UNIFEM along side Peg’s first deputy – Banke Akerele and fellow consultant Jacqueline Ki-Zerbo. During those 9 years, I always stayed with Peg at her lovely apartment in Mitchell Place and came – as so many of her friends have done also – to regard it as my home away from home.

Myself (R), Peg (L) and Banke Akerele (C)-- Peg's first deputy at UNIFEM who went on to become UNDP Res Rep in Zambia and Foreign Minister in Liberia.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Once UNIFEM was firmly established, I decided it was time to re-enter the world of women and so gave up my post as Chief Economist in an organization where I was the only professional woman among nearly a hundred men, and accepted yet another life-changing opportunity offered by Peg --- to set up UNIFEM’s first Regional Office in Harare covering the SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries. Again, Peg offered maximum support and minimum interference and I was able to grow in the trust that she held in me.

Peg, myself and Ginny Sauerwein (L) -- former UN Coordinator for UN Affairs and her Airdales.
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Just before Peg retired from UNIFEM, I was ready to hand over the well established Harare Office to an African woman, and Peg arranged for me to transfer to New York to head up a newly created Technical Section in support of the three Regional Sections. Although Peg had left the office before I arrived in New York in 1990, she helped me to secure my own apartment in her building – and so, for the second time around, we became neighbours. For the following 30 years until her death we became really close friends and shared a busy social life with the many visitors who came through New York and stayed over at Mitchell Place or came for lunch or supper. Every year Peg hosted a Christmas Eve supper – one year with Wangari Maathai and her entire family, and on New Year’s Eve we would go to the evening performance of Alvin Ailey at City Center before returning for cheese and wine with neighbours in her apartment and then going to the roof garden to watch the fireworks. Another favourite social occasion was visiting Ginny Sauerwein (former UN Coordinator for NGO Affairs) at her lovely home outside of NY City to take her Airdale Terriers for long Sunday walks and playing with the litters of puppies which arrived on a frequent basis. I was happy to be able to organize parties for Peg’s 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays and she, in return, organized parties for my 50th, 60th, 65th and 70th birthdays. All of them magical! At Peg’s 75th birthday, we asked for donations to help set up a Book Prize in her honour --- the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize administered by the African Studies Association that gives an annual prize to an African woman author – alternating between fiction and non-fiction.

2 Above: Peg’s 90th birthday party. 
Photos courtesy Marilyn Carr

In addition to her busy social life after leaving UNIFEM, Peg also became really immersed in gardening – as Chair of the gardening committee at Mitchell Place – and was instrumental in turning our roof garden into one of the loveliest in Manhattan. Many parties were hosted up there including one to celebrate the marriage of Wanjira Mathai. A special box with a very special flowering plant will be dedicated with a plaque to Peg to help us to remember her. She also continued to support the women’s movement. She was on the Board of Green Belt Movement USA, continued working with Women’s World Banking and helped to set up the Johnson Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund and served as a Board Member. She wrote numerous articles and book reviews, traveled to deliver many lectures and continued to visit organizations such as SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association) in India to which she had given support during her time at UNIFEM. And of course, she also wrote her books on ATRCW and UNIFEM, as well as her two books on Ugandan women entrepreneurs. Peg’s extensive collection of documents is archived at Princeton University. Her role as a ‘first in the UN’ was celebrated in 2016 with an exhibition at UNHQ ‘HERstory: A Celebration of leading women in the United Nations’ which was launched by Ban Ki-Moon and Antonio Guterres. 

This photo was taken and sent to Peg by the Green Belt Movement in honour of her 90th Birthday. 
Note the poster photo of Wangari and then Wanjira standing between the H and the
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

Despite her busy life, Peg was always ready to respond to requests for help and advice and always put others before herself. She was one of the most caring and selfless people I have ever known.

Peg at the collection of documents archived at a Mudd Library, Princeton University. 
Photo courtesy Marilyn Carr

I will miss my mentor, friend and neighbour. This is a hole in my life I will never be able to fill, but I am glad that I have had the honour to spend so much of my life in the company of such an extraordinary person and had my life so enriched as a result. We will all miss you Peg – but you will never be forgotten.

by Mina Mauerstein-Bail 

I first met Peg when she was heading up the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in the late 1970s. I was the focal point for Women in Development (WID) at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa. With a very small staff and a big agenda, it was amazing to watch Peg in action. Her extraordinary ability to bring people together and get things done effectively in a bureaucracy enabled a highly dedicated group of women around the world to undertake groundbreaking work for the benefit for women and girls everywhere.

At Peg's Apartment
Photos courtesy Mina Mauerstein-Bail

Our paths crossed once again when I retired and we worked together on the Board of Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund to support market women in Liberia. Peg, now in her 80s, showed no sign of slowing down. We traveled together to Liberia to meet with market women and better understand their realities and hopes for themselves and their families. I so very much enjoyed working with Peg again. Her warmth, her kindness, her wit and her intellect made work fun! 

Peg was a colleague and a friend. When I think of Peg, I smile. There are some people who bring out the best in other people. Peg was one of those people. May she Rest in Peace and May Her Memory Be A Blessing. I miss you, Peg.

The Legendary Margaret 'Peg' Snyder 
by Brenda Gael McSweeney
Peg Snyder and I initially met in Mexico City at the first UN Conference for Women in 1975. Peg was then based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Co-Founder of the African Training and Research Centre for Women and Head of the Voluntary Agencies Bureau of UNECA, while I was posted across the continent with the UN Development Programme in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, West Africa — home to the Government/UNESCO/UNDP pilot Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education. I had been charged to look into closing down this Project, with its faltering literacy component — a proposal that neglected women’s roles as farmers and food processors —an issue that Peg brought great visibility to through speeches and publications in All-Africa terms, backed by UNECA data. Our West Africa Project’s grinding mills — that could vastly lighten female workloads — were appreciated by all the villagers, male and female alike; we in fact attracted major funding from USAID, the World Bank, and later the Gates Foundation. Here Peg with her UNECA colleague Marilyn Carr, an Expert in Village Technology and Rural Industry, rejoined our story. They supported scaling-up this appropriate technology component — including sending Virginia Sauerwein of the NGO world to help spread the word.

L to R: Marilyn Carr, Peg Snyder, Pamela Mboya, Brenda Gael McSweeney: 
ATRCW/ECA, Addis (Circa 1975)
Photo: Collection of Marilyn Carr

With passionate interest and experience with the women in development portfolio at the village level, we were among ‘go-to‘ folk participating in Africa and global gatherings for ECA and UNDP respectively — one such, in Nouakchott in 1977 where Peg was representing ATRCW that she co-founded with Ethiopia's Mary Tadesse. ECA‘s top official was not pleased when I announced that UNDP was no longer willing to subsidize their general operations, yet happy to continue to support the catalytic ATRCW (run by the dynamic duo of Peg and Mary with their dedicated team)!

From 1977 to 1979 I turned to ECA/ATRCW leading-edge publications in conducting my research into lessons to be learned from the Women’s Education Project in tandem with its dynamic Coordinator, women's education pioneer Scholastique Kompaoré. For my doctoral thesis I used Peg’s/ATRCW’s time–budget livelihoods model, that compared male and female workloads. I suggested expanding the model to include additional variables important in West Africa — Peg later adopted these into their model!

Peg at the Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

Two decades later, when Peg was back in New York City writing books and co-founding the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, and I was back in Boston in academia with Boston and Brandeis Universities, Peg and I met up again at UNDP gatherings of senior officials. In October 2016 Peg was enthusiastically telling of her positive field assessment of a UNIFEM-supported livelihoods initiative that was thriving decades later in Cuba. I asked her to consider writing it up (see below!) for the blog of our BU-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-centered Development. Then she also graciously provided an insider's story titled "How African Women Led the World: the Story of the Women's Center of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)" for Volume II of which I was Editor of Gender Perspectives in Case Studies Across Continents. Later Peg, hearing of a new series I wished to launch on Women and UN Origins, volunteered to prepare a (hard-hitting!) article on the vagaries of establishing women and development entities in the UN — including UNIFEM of which she was Founding Director. And Peg agreed to share a personal reflection piece for a forthcoming e-book that Scholastique Kompaoré — the tireless women’s education advocate in Upper Volta/Burkina Faso — and her colleagues proposed, to help make ever more visible the lessons learned from the Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education — now popular across Africa, notably the drudgery-lightning technologies portfolio.   

Power Trio (L. to R.) Peg Snyder, Renu Chahil-Graf, Soknan Han Jung 
(October 2016)
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

Camaraderie with Peg was a constant thread: in policy debates, joint struggles to advance women’s rights and empowerment — and group laughter. Peg: your legacy lives on!

I’m now discovering that I know just one corner of Peg’s amazing mosaic promoting women’s rights and advancement globally. I’m excited at the prospect of hearing and joining to shout-out all four corners of Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder's phenomenal legacy!

With admiration and affection, Brenda

More tributes to — & articles by — Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder, illustrating her stellar legacy: that lives on!

Peg Snyder with the now Chair of the UNDP Senior Alumni Network, 
Soknan Han Jung at La Fonda on the Plaza 
Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

~ 28 July 2020:
Launching our new 'Women & UN Origins' series — first entry by Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder, titled "THEY CAN MOVE US BUT THEY CAN’T STOP US: Surviving the Early Years of 'Women and Development' in the United Nations." Link:

~ 15 November 2016:
Dr. Margaret 'Peg' Snyder (our Affiliate-Member) celebrated by distinguished journalist Barbara Crossette! Link:

~ 18 December 2015:
Margaret 'Peg' Snyder delivers African Studies Association Annual Lecture: "Four Decisive Decades: The Birth and Growth of a Global Women's Movement." Link:

~ E-published for 2014-15 (see page 158):
"How African Women Led the World: The Story of the Women's Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)" by Margaret Snyder. Link:

~ 22 February 2013: 
Peg's co-authored feature on Quitrin: A Cuban Success Story, 1985-2013. Link: