Rohaniza Usman sees herself as a product of two cultures and faiths – her father’s side of the family being Muslims and her mother’s Catholic.
Born a Maranao Muslim princess in the Mindanao province of the Philippines, she grew up in Riyad, Saudi Arabia where she was witness to terror brought by the first Gulf War in 1991. This experience hardened her commitment to peace. This determination to see peace come to Mindanao is today felt widely.
Until recently Rohaniza worked as the Philippine Country Director and Coordinator for the Asia America Initiative. In this role she promoted peace and development through education, inter-generational engagement and economic development in Mindanao. She was also the Associate Editor of Starfish Magazine, the first Filipino youth empowerment magazine.
Currently Rohaniza is pursuing a long-term dream of establishing a Children’s Peace Center that will specialize in peace education for younger generations of Muslims and non-Muslims, in an effort to develop a sustainable culture of peace for generations to come. As she says, “If people have been exposed to conflict for ages, we really have to break the cycle. It is really through education, and educating people about peace – especially the younger generation”.
She is a charter member of Peace Talks, a network of peace advocates discussing issues and actions for Mindanao. She is also an alumni member of Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, and a founding member of Active Catalysts of Tomorrow. At Outreach of Young Moro Professionals Network, which she chairs, young Muslim professionals advocate for peaceful means to improve the socio-economic well-being of the Bangsamoro people.
In 2007, she was recognized as an “Ambassador for Peace” by the Universal Peace Federation. She has also been awarded the “Leadership by Example” prize from the Rotary Club of Manila and in 2010 received a Princeton Global Network Award as one of the World’s Most Accomplished Individuals.