For the first time in six years, the Nobel Peace Prize was granted to a woman. But not just one woman, three. Way to catch up! Awesome!!!
This year it was determined that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, women’s rights activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen have done the most for peace in the world.
Since 1901, individuals and organizations have been recognized every year for their humanitarian work, peace movements, human rights efforts, mediation of international conflicts, arms control and disarmament with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The three women will split the $1.5 million dollar prize. Two women from an African nation and the first Arab woman to win the prize. What exciting news! It is surprising to me that women haven’t won the prize in six years because women do a lot for peace, but the three named this year are astounding!
Examples on large scales may be:
Women In Black who wear black and silently protest war, rape as a tool of war, ethnic cleansing… It is a” world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence.” http://www.womeninblack.org/en/vigil
Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo is an organization of women from Argentina who have become human rights activists in order to achieve a common goal. For over three decades they have fought for the right to re-unite with their abducted children and by doing this, they raise awareness and are demanding peace and justice. In protests, they wear white head scarves with their children’s names embroidered, to symbolize the blankets of the lost children. They convene in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires every Thursday afternoon. I had the privilege of seeing them there when I went to Buenos Aires in December 2006. It’s a powerful sight.
How about women movie stars? Even Modern Family’s Gloria, whose real name is Sofia Vergara. She’s sexy, sassy, and also working for peace and hope. In 1999 Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan activist fighting for the rights of indigenous people who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, awarded Sofia Vergara the ‘Hispanic Woman of the Year’ Award for her leadership skills among Latina Women. In 2001, Sofia created “Peace and Hope for the Children of Colombia,” a charity foundation that has helped thousands of children in her country. In 2002, Sofia was awarded the Women of Hope Award by the City of Hope Organization as one of the outstanding role models for future generations. In 2007 she was named one of The 25 Most Powerful Hispanic Women in the Entertainment Industry by The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.
Peace Corps Volunteers (both women and men) work for peace all around the world. I was in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica fifteen years ago. Costa Rica? Isn’t that the paradise of Central America? It must have been like a vacation. It has been able to bump up its tourism industry and make enormous strides in environmental preservation of its resources, but much of the country still lives in poverty. I lived in a neighborhood just outside San Jose called Leon XIII. Children without shoes and enough food to eat, people living in makeshift homes of tin and scraps, gangs, crack cocaine, kids who work selling gum, many people working in sex work and children being recruited into it, often with American customers. Costa Rica is an amazing country with amazing people, unfortunately it’s not all beautiful and middle class that we’d like it to be. Peace Corps volunteers there and around the world work for sustainable communities and change that the people of the communities foster and thrive from for years to come.
And what about on a smaller scale? in our local communities:
Social workers, many of whom (probably the majority) are women, work for peace in their daily jobs. That can mean many things. It may be in therapy helping individuals be at peace with themselves and their histories, families make peace and work together to understand each other, couples to make peace or even organizations to be able to run more smoothly. Social workers stand for justice in prisons, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, rape crisis centers, foster care systems, hospitals, etc.
Teachers (many of whom, if not the majority, are women) work for peace in classrooms through education. They help students of different backgrounds and cultures come together to reach an understanding of each other. They educate and help students empower themselves through the power of education and in this way, they also promote peace.
Activists for local issues, whether it be anti-violence activists, anti-war activists, environmental activists… many are women and they make major change that most people never hear about and that goes unrecognized.
Women, whether famous or not, on a large scale and within our own communities and families, work for peace. We have historically made great change in the name of peace, as individuals and in groups.
Grrl Code: Be inspired by this years Nobel Peace Prize winners for their noble work toward peace and work for peace in your daily interactions with other women and with others.