Williamsburg resident Jan Peterson received an honorary award from The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in commemoration of her lifetime of service.
The agency’s executive director Maimunah Mohd Sharif awarded Peterson with a Certificate of Honor at a meeting this past November. Peterson, a Community Board 1 member and longtime women’s rights activist, founded the National Congress of Neighborhood Women in 1974, a grassroots organization designed to empower local working class women. Some Neighborhood Women accomplishments include a community-based college program and spearheading the opening of the city’s first domestic violence support shelter.
“There was a cross-section between community development movements and civil rights movements, which I was also in,” Peterson told Greenpointers in 2022. “So what Neighborhood Women is is bringing together those threads into one place … Why should a woman who’s a poorer, working-class woman have to choose which of her identities she’s going to stand by? For most women who care about family and community and who are also deep into their ethnic diversity, race and ethnicity, how are you choosing just the woman part when you’re all those things?”
Peterson also founded GROOTS International (1985), and the Huairou Commission (1995) which, alongside Neighborhood Women, all have consultative status with the United Nations. Peterson was also awarded the prestigious UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor in 2009, given to those who have made contributions to housing and urban planning issues.