Friday, October 7, 2011

Eleven plus Three

The three women awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace today bring the total number of women winners of this prize to 14 since the beginning in 1901.

They are:

Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Germany, 1905, peace activist.

Jane Addams, US, 1931, for leadership of the International Congress of Women in 1915, an effort to end World War I.

Emily Green Balch, 1946, for her work through the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom to stop World War I.

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, 1976, for their work to end violence between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.

Mother Theresa, 1979, for her charity work. She was born of Albanian parents.

Alva Myrdal, Mexico, 1982, for her work on nuclear disarmament.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma, 1991, for her nonviolent work against the brutal government of Myanmar. She is the first Buddhist woman to win the prize.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Guatamala, 1992, for her work for social justice and respect for the rights of indigenous people.

Jody Williams, US, 1997, for her work to ban landmines.

Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003, for her courage in working as a lawyer for human rights in Iran. She was the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel prize.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee (both of Liberia), and Tawakul Karman, Yemen, 2011, for their "non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

Consider the dates of these prizes: the first three were awarded in 1905, 1931, and 1946 for work toward peace during the period of women's push for the right to vote in the US and Britain.

Those first awards came in 1905, at the height of the suffrage struggle; in 1931, when women's new right to vote caused notice of women, and in 1946, when women had just made major contributions toward fighting and ending World War II.

In each case, an award came when women were noisy in the public sphere.

No prizes came for another 30 years until 1976, when women's demands for full participation in society and government were again very loud.

Challenge to readers: Which women would have won the prize in earlier centuries, if there had been a Nobel Peace Prize?

Post your answers.

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