Meet the Match

A Leader Fighting for the Rights of Brazilian Women

When she was a young girl in the mountainous Brazilian city of Petropolis, Diana Currie often asked her father, a Scottish martial arts sensei, to teach her about the bushido or “warrior’s path.”

“My sister and I annoyed him until he let us do it,” Diana remembers. “When he finally accepted, he made us to commit to one whole year. We had to wake up at 6 a.m. when it was very cold in the mountains. After a while, I wanted to give up and run away—it was too hard! But that journey helped make me the person I am today.”

Diana’s mother, a psychologist, balanced the hard lessons of martial arts with softer virtues of love and care.

Outside of martial arts, Diana always loved to move her body. She was a star track-and-field athlete in her youth and as an adult she climbed Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan.

“I truly believe sport is life-changing,” Diana says. “It gives you determination not to be better than other people, but to be better than yourself. You get ownership of who you are. Sport makes you more self-aware.”

While her life’s purpose has always been to make a difference in society, Diana did not immediately forge her path into using sports for social change. In 2007, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. She later completed post-graduate diplomas in conflict resolution and project management, drawing her to Fight for Peace’s mission.

Prior to joining Fight for Peace in 2013, Diana worked as the senior conflict resolution training coordinator for Partners Global in Brazil. One day during a course for her management diploma she met with Juliana Tibau, project manager at Fight for Peace, to talk and was told they had a job opening. When she learned the job involved using martial arts to positively impact communities affected by violence nationwide, she decided to take it.

“Combat sports in these communities is attractive because people want to defend themselves from violence,” Diana says. “Sometimes children come to Fight for Peace because they want to avenge a death. A lot of children come from broken families and see their coaches as fathers and mothers. We want to change how these young people see themselves, relate to others, and see their futures.”

Diana’s role is to study the map of violence in cities like Salvador, Fortaleza, and Manaus and work with partner organizations to share the Fight for Peace methodology of personal development through boxing and martial arts, education, employability, social support, and youth leadership.

A significant majority of the victims of violence and conflict in Brazil are women. The country is currently ranked 85th in gender inequality by the World Economic Forum, influenced in large part by a machista culture that is especially strong in the favelas, where domestic violence and early pregnancy are widespread.

“We do gender workshops to show girls they have rights and what they can do to fight back,” Diana says. “I can see when these girls join martial arts how their body language changes. They stand up straighter. They become more confident.”

In its growth, the organization received news that United Nations Women, partnered with Women Win, selected Fight for Peace for a training program. Diana wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to provide training on women’s health, economic empowerment, and nonviolent communication, among other areas. She is also working on launching a national campaign on gender awareness.

Romina Bongiovanni, earned media director for Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, is the ideal mentor for Diana. For more than a decade, Romina has built and led campaigns on behalf of clients that include many of the world’s top brands, such as Pepsi, DirecTV, Starbucks, and Xbox. A former president of the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) and established Latina leader, her experience in the marketing, advertising, and business worlds are vital for Diana as she maximizes the impact of Fight for Peace across Brazil. Romina has especially worked to support Diana in developing key marketing and networking strategies to promote the organization’s empowering projects. Through their partnership, Diana and Fight for Peace will continue to make their impact felt throughout the most vulnerable areas of Brazil.

Mentor Match