Books & Articles


Rwandan Women Rising
Duke University Press | 2017

Rwandan Women Rising book cover by Swanee Hunt

In the spring of 1994, the tiny African nation of Rwanda was ripped apart by a genocide that left nearly a million dead. Neighbors attacked neighbors. Family members turned against their own. After the violence subsided, Rwanda’s women—drawn by the necessity of protecting their families—carved out unlikely new roles for themselves as visionary pioneers creating stability and reconciliation in genocide’s wake. Today, 64 percent of the seats in Rwanda’s elected house of parliament are held by women, a number unrivaled by any other nation.

While news of the Rwandan genocide reached all corners of the globe, the nation’s recovery and the key role of women are less well known. In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt shares the stories of some seventy women—heralded activists and unsung heroes alike—who overcame unfathomable brutality, unrecoverable loss, and unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society. Hunt, who has worked with women leaders in sixty countries for over two decades, points out that Rwandan women did not seek the limelight or set out to build a movement; rather, they organized around common problems such as health care, housing, and poverty to serve the greater good. Their victories were usually in groups and wide ranging, addressing issues such as rape, equality in marriage, female entrepreneurship, reproductive rights, education for girls, and mental health.

These women’s accomplishments provide important lessons for policy makers and activists who are working toward equality elsewhere in Africa and other post-conflict societies. Their stories, told in their own words via interviews woven throughout the book, demonstrate that the best way to reduce suffering and to prevent and end conflicts is to elevate the status of women throughout the world.

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Praise for Rwandan Women Rising

“As Director of the Africa Bureau of the United Nations Development Program, I had the sad experience of visiting Rwanda after the genocide. Women with families torn apart bore their suffering with strength as they organized to be the catalyst for their country’s renewal. Today, 64 percent of Rwanda’s Parliament are women, and they provide exceptional leadership in regional institutions. For a dozen years, Swanee Hunt and I have been finding ways to raise the voices of women in my country. Rwandan Women Rising is a new guidebook for a journey toward justice, a journey beyond Liberia that holds the promise of global change, empowering women to create a more secure world for us all.”
—Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia 

“This is an excellent book! It is an honest, authentic, and thoughtful representation of how Rwandan women experienced the narratives of their lives and country. Swanee Hunt’s unique voice and experience shows how the story of one nation becomes meaningful and applicable to the rest of the world. This is a page turner and an essential read for anybody interested in social change and women’s rights beyond Rwanda.”
—Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International, author, and media personality

“This is an extremely valuable contribution to the understanding of peacemaking and peace building. It is a powerful account by Rwandan women who rose to reform their nation’s society and government. They tell of their struggles, achievements, and still unfinished agendas. Ambassador Hunt draws on her extensive research and experience to provide a thoughtful analysis of women’s roles in conflict and reconciliation, with lessons well beyond Rwanda. This book is a work of love for Swanee Hunt, who for decades has befriended, encouraged, and supported these women and others like them who have stood up to violence and advocated for peace.”
—Princeton Lyman, Senior Advisor to the President of the U.S. Institute of Peace

“Ambassador Swanee Hunt is a remarkable, passionate, and courageous public servant for our country and the world. Her commitment to women’s rights, human rights, and human dignity is unsurpassed. In this timely new book, Rwandan Women Rising, Hunt uncovers lessons about how courageous women helped  to rebuild a nation shattered by genocide. These are human stories worthy of our attention and admiration.”
Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Harvard professor, former U.S. Under Secretary of State

Worlds Apart: Bosnian Lessons for Global Security
Duke University Press | 2011

Worlds Apart book cover by Swanee HuntSwanee Hunt tells of a well-meaning foreign policy establishment often deaf to the voices of everyday people. Its focus is the Bosnian War, but its implications extend to any situation that prompts the consideration of military intervention on humanitarian grounds.

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Praise for Worlds Apart

“Swanee Hunt has written an intelligent, insightful, and highly readable account of the Bosnia conflict and America’s response to it. She brings to her analysis the passion appropriate to a firsthand account, together with a critical and sophisticated appreciation for the larger political context. Those interested in lessons important to future policy will not be disappointed. The book is an important addition to the literature on Bosnia, and on the continuing debate over appropriate circumstances for military intervention for humanitarian purposes.”
—Ambassador Robert Gallucci, former Dean, Georgetown School of Foreign Service

“The slaughter in Bosnia in the 1990s still haunts policymakers everywhere. With Worlds Apart, Swanee Hunt brings us all into the room alongside the decision-makers at the center of an international crisis, and simultaneously draws important lessons from those events for the resolution of future conflicts. It’s a compelling read for anyone motivated to learn those larger lessons from a tragedy that tested the will of the free world.”
Senator John Kerry, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“Good research. Brilliant analysis. Important book. These lessons about global security are especially urgent in light of today’s headlines.”
—Dan Rather, journalist and news anchor

“Ambassador Hunt has given us a bold, firsthand, outspoken book. It comes as close as we’ve gotten to answering the wherefores of Bosnia’s stark violence. Her juxtaposition of inside realities and outside misconceptions is convincing support for the broader lessons she offers us.”
—General John Galvin, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and former Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Half-Life of a Zealot
Duke University Press | 2006

Half-Life of a Zealot book cover by Swanee Hunt
Swanee’s life has lived up to her Texas-size childhood. Daughter of legendary oil magnate H. L. Hunt, she grew up in a household dominated by an arch-conservative patriarch who spawned a brood of colorful offspring. Her family was nothing if not zealous, and that zeal—albeit for more compassionate causes—propelled her into a mission that reaches around the world.

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Praise for Half-Life of a Zealot

“Swanee Hunt is the woman behind the women, supporting their leadership throughout the world. Through them, she touches millions who will never have the privilege of browsing in a bookstore. This beautiful book tells why and how.”
— Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

“Swanee Hunt’s life reads like a novel. Born into a powerful, conservative and patriarchal American family, a young girl grows up to use her part of that power to support the powerless, and to encourage peace and women’s leadership around the world. To discover the fascinating story in between, you must read ‘Half-Life of a Zealot.”
— Gloria Steinem

“For a dozen years I’ve watched Swanee Hunt transform her resources into possibilities for others. Her autobiography shows the creative nexus of personal values, political savvy, and global reform that has made hers a life well lived.”
— George Soros

This Was Not Our War
Duke University Press | 2004

This Was Not Our War cover by Swanee Hunt
Winner of the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Book Award for non-fiction, Ambassador Hunt’s first book shares amazing first-person accounts of twenty-six Bosnian women who are reconstructing their society following years of devastating warfare.

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Praise for This Was Not Our War

“Replacing tyranny with justice, healing deep scars, exchanging hatred for hope—the women in This Was Not Our War teach us how.”
— President Bill Clinton

“I met Swanee Hunt as a diplomat in Vienna. I worked beside her as an activist in the Balkans. Now I know her as a writer, addressing a world sorely in need of her message of challenge and hope. Her words resonate with the authenticity of an observer and advocate who has devoted not only attention, time, and position, but also soul.”
— Queen Noor of Jordan, humanitarian activist for world peace and justice and best-selling author of Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

“While victimization and suffering are all too real a feature of the lives of the women chronicled in Swanee Hunt’s This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, the real story is one of struggle and moral courage. Here are women who have demonstrated for the world how to keep human dignity and compassion alive in the most hellish circumstances imaginable. Organizing to distribute food, fuel, and medicine to those in need, often across ethnic lines drawn by war mongers and demagogues. In This Was Not Our War, Swanee Hunt has collected and featured the voices of these women and through her skillful orchestration, she has lodged their stories in our hearts. Stories that ask hard questions and offer real lessons if we but heed them.”
— Citation from the L.L. Winship/PEN New England award ceremony, John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA, April 10, 2005

Swanee at a book signing.

Swanee signs books for readers at a public event.


Major Articles


Inclusive Security: NATO Adapts and Adopts
PRISM (National Defense University journal), March 1, 2016

We Can End the Illegal Sex Trade
(with Jimmy Carter)
POLITICO Magazine, May 14, 2015

The Rise of Rwanda’s Women
Foreign Affairs, March 30, 2014

Deconstructing Demand: The Driving Force of Sex Trafficking
The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Spring/Summer 2013

Let Women Rule
Foreign Affairs, May 15, 2007

Women’s Vital Voices: The Costs of Exclusion in Eastern Europe
Foreign Affairs, July/August 1997

Selected Other Articles


Americans Can Learn From the Struggles and Wins of Rwandan Women
The Hill, October 5, 2017

Interview: Rwandan Women Led Their Country’s Recovery. They Might Be A Model For The Rest Of The World
“Colorado Matters,” Colorado Public Radio, August 30, 2017

Interview: How Women Rebuilt Rwanda After the Genocide
“Newsday,” BBC World Service, August 22, 2017

Interview: How Women Rebuilt Rwanda From Ashes of Genocidal Hell 
Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, July 16, 2017

Interview: Rwandan Women Rising
“Think,” KERA, July 10, 2017

Rwanda’s Women as Leaders, Not Victims
Harvard Gazette, June 29, 2017

Talking Policy: Swanee Hunt on Inclusive Security
World Policy blog, May 12, 2017

Swanee Hunt on Power, Parity, and Policy
Women & Wealth Magazine, Spring 2017


The Meaning of Giving (case study)
The Coutts Institute, December 6, 2016

On the Appointment Road: Women, to the Front!
Huffington Post, November 22, 2016

How We Can Carry Thanksgiving Forward Into the Rest of the Political Year
PRI/Across Women’s Lives, November 22, 2016

With Trump’s VP Choice, GOP Misses Huge Opportunity
Huffington Post, July 16, 2016

Bernie as Movement Leader; Hillary as Executive in Chief
Huffington Post, February 26, 2016

Want Peace in Syria? Put Women at the Negotiating Table
(with Matthew Rycroft)
Defense One, January 29, 2016


Amnesty International is about to make sex trafficking easier, worldwide
PRI/Global Post, Aug 4, 2015

‘Once and for all’: Women are essential to global stability
PRI/GlobalPost, October 2, 2015


In Rwanda, women paved the way to reconciliation
Boston Globe, April 5, 2014

Women in Post-genocide Rwanda Have Helped Heal Their Country
(with Laura Heaton)
National Geographic
, April 4, 2014

Women Peacemakers Are Charting a New Process
The Daily Beast, April 3, 2014

Women Leaders in Peace Building
Souriali Radio, February 18, 2014

Irene Santiago: women are vital peacemakers
Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2014

2013 – 2010

Rebuilding Rwanda: Reflections on a nation two decades after genocide
GlobalPost, December 31, 2013

20 percent women, 100 percent effective
GlobalPost, October 18, 2013

Is Caroline Kennedy qualified? Yes. Celebrity aside, she stands on her own merit
Boston Globe, August 7, 2013

Women waging peace: How they have become forces to improve their troubled nations
Harvard Gazette, January 17, 2013

Women waging peace: A must-see panel
GlobalPost, January 16, 2013

For the sake of democracy, elect women
Boston Globe, January 2, 2013

Taking courage from the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, June 1, 2012

Peace Activist Mossarat Qadeem Enlists Mothers to Fight Terrorism
The Daily Beast, May 27, 2012

More women are needed in Congress
Boston Globe, May 19, 2012

Bosnia Still Needs Fixing
New York Times, May 3, 2012

Pakistani women waging peace the world over
GlobalPost, April 26, 2012

Serbia in paradox
GlobalPost, April 22, 2012

Buying sex? It will cost you
Boston Globe, February 21, 2012

To Liberia, via the Bay State
Boston Globe, October 8, 2011

Buyers of sex must be held accountable
Boston Globe, August 8, 2011

Learning compassion from Srebrenica survivors
GlobalPost, July 22, 2011

Mladic arrest: Has the West now learned not to be impartial on war crimes?
Christian Science Monitor, May 27, 2011

Time for women to call the shots
GlobalPost, November 6, 2010

Ending the ‘hot or not’ factor for Nikki Haley and female candidates
Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 2010

Women Start Your Campaigns
Boston Globe, January 28, 2010

Western women can come to the rescue of the world
Vancouver Sun, January 25, 2010


Women, Peacebuilding and Advancing the Rule of Law
ASIL, October 28, 2009

Women and Peace-Building with the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama Center, September 28, 2009

Ma Ellen is Delivering Liberia
Boston Globe, March 8, 2007

Anna Politkovskaya Still Wages Peace
San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2007

Rape Cases Must Claim the Attention of All
The Inquirer, December 13, 2006

The Former Slave Who Helped Turn the World Upside Down
Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 26, 2006

Inclusive Security: Hope for Congo
Boston Globe, December 29, 2005

Unfinished Business in Afghanistan
Washington Times, October 30, 2005

Where quotas work
Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2005

The Three Lessons of Srebrenica
Boston Globe, July 11, 2005

Women’s Rights: Iran’s Bitter Lessons for Iraq
International Herald Tribune, February 7, 2005

In disaster zone, women are key
Christian Science Monitor, January 24, 2005

Muslim Women in the Bosnian Crucible
Sex Roles, September 1, 2004

Women Rock the Boat and Vote
Boston Herald, July 30, 2004

Ladies First: Ten years after the genocide, will women succeed in rebuilding Rwanda?
PBS, July 22, 2004

Iraq’s Excluded Women
Foreign Policy, July 15, 2004

Where are the Women in the New Iraq?
Boston Globe, June 22, 2004

A Rare View of Chechnya
Rocky Mountain News, April 15, 2003

Transition within Tradition: Restoring Women’s Participation in Afghanistan
Harvard Kennedy School Women and Public Policy Program, January 1, 2002

Women Waging Peace
Foreign Policy, May 1, 2001


Ode to the New Year
Neue Kronen Zeitung, January 3, 1997

Hunger for Harmony
Neue Kronen Zeitung, April 11, 1997

Perfect Harmony
Neue Kronen Zeitung, April 17, 1997

Women’s Vital Voices
Foreign Affairs, July/August 1997

Life Meets Death in Vienna’s St. Raphael Hospice
Kurier, August 19, 1997

To the Top
Neue Kronen Zeitung, August 8, 1997

The Price of Celebrity
Neue Kronen Zeitung, September 5, 1997

Schools Start Late
Neue Kronen Zeitung, September 26, 1997

An Important Time for a Cultural Voice
Rocky Mountain News, May 26, 1996


More Articles

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