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PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL Abaigail Disney presents PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL Abaigail Disney presents "Why Women Matter" to Cedar Crest College students, faculty, staff and members of the community March 14.

CEDAR CREST COLLEGE Abigail Disney presents 'Why Women Matter'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by EMILY THIEL Special to The Press in Local News

Cedar Crest College welcomed Abigail Disney March 14 as part of The William D. Reimert lecture series.

Disney, who is the daughter of Roy E. Disney, and niece of Walt Disney, is an American filmmaker, philanthropist and social entrepreneur.

She spoke passionately in front of a full room of Cedar Crest College students, faculty, staff and members of the community about her journey of devotion to women throughout the world.

Her lecture entitled, "Why Women Matter" shared the inspiration for the documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell."

The film was released in 2008 and won the Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Disney visited Liberia in 2006 and could see the remnants of the second civil war that occurred 1999 through 2003.

"The suffering was evident, there were bullet holes in everything," Disney said. She said it was the women who peacefully ended this civil war.

In Liberia, Disney said even being in a foreign country felt familiar in how the women used the same language as those she was helping back in the United States.

Thousands of women, both Christian and Muslim, put aside their differences and banned together, wearing white, coming in thousands to demand their country stop the war and sign a peace treaty. Through their efforts, they demanded a solution to the war and succeeded.

"There has been 10 years of peace in Liberia because of what those women did," Disney said. She asked one of the leaders who signed the treaty why the women affected their decision and he responded "they were our mothers."

The film has been shown in countries throughout the world. Disney wants to promote peace and the women who can make it happen.

"That moral voice penetrated all that… got to the center of where they were," she said. "That voice [of our mothers] saying [it's alright] is the voice of peace." Disney said mothers have instilled a memory and construction of peace within all of us.

"Perhaps [peace] is something we have all known at one time in our lives, perhaps it's something we reach backward to and restore in our world," Disney said, adding it is important for our country to hear these voices of the women.

After women screen the inspirational film, Disney said the response has always been the same: one woman stands up, pushes back her sleeves and wants to make a change within their own country.

"Cultures change all the time because people choose to change them," she said.

Disney has dedicated her life to making social changes, helping women throughout the world and promoting peace.

"Without a women's voice, peace can never be a message that can break through… peace can never be a message that can be transmitted in a way and break through and remind us all who we are and what we were put on this planet to do," Disney said.

"Peace is loud…it's possible for all of us to choose to make our communities peaceful ones."

Disney invited everyone to join in valuing human dignity and to have conversations instead of fights.

Disney also received an honorary degree from Cedar Crest College, which was presented by provost Dr. Elizabeth M. Meade.