Antigua Guatemala - The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the Nobel Women's Initiative are holding an international conference from May 10 to May 12 in Antigua Guatemala. The specific theme of the conference is "Women Redefining Democracy for Peace, Justice and Equality."
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the Nobel Women's Initiative convened women's rights activists, researchers, journalists, politicians and key policy-makers from national and international institutions. Specific issues to be discussed include: conflict, post-conflict and militarization, violence against women (from state repression to domestic violence) and women's political participation and representation. The conference is being organized by Nobel Women's Initiative, in partnership with Just Associates (JASS), a global network working in 25 countries to strengthen women's organizing power. The local host partner is the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation (FRMT), which seeks to promote the rights of indigenous people around the world. The four Nobel Laureates participating at this conference are: Mairead Maguire, Ireland, Shirin Ebadi, Iran, Jody Williams, USA, and Rigoberta Menchú, Guatemala.
The Conference in Antigua Guatemala
This three-day strategy meeting will bring together more than 100 women from around the world to examine the challenges of democracy and democratization through the lens of women's experiences.
• To highlight women's representation, participation and rights in democracy and democratization;
• To develop fresh perspectives and practical alternatives for reclaiming and reshaping democracy;
• To share experiences, challenges and perspectives of deepening democracy; and,
• To develop new alliances between women and organizations working to strengthen democracy.
You Can Listen In!
The official website of the Nobel Women's Initiative has complete coverage of the event: http://www.nobelwomensinitiative.org/
Open Democracy is covering the event at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/50-50-tags/nobel-womens-initiative
Live broadcast at Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE)
The experiences, solutions and alternatives developed at the conference will be captured in a final report and made publicly available on the Nobel Women's Initiative website.
What is the Nobel Women's Initiative
The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. We six women -- representing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa -- decided to bring together our extraordinary experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality.
Only 12 women in its more than 100 year history have been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize is a great honor, but it is also a great responsibility. It is this sense of responsibility that compelled us to create the Nobel Women's Initiative to help strengthen work being done in support of women's rights around the world - work often carried out in the shadows with little recognition.
We believe peace is much more than the absence of armed conflict. Peace is the commitment to equality and justice; a democratic world free of physical, economic, cultural, political, religious, sexual and environmental violence and the constant threat of these forms of violence against women indeed against all of humanity.
It is the heartfelt mission of the Nobel Women's Initiative to work together as women Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to use the visibility and prestige of the Nobel prize to promote, spotlight, and amplify the work of women's rights activists, researchers, and organizations worldwide addressing the root causes of violence, in a way that strengthens and expands the global movement to advance nonviolence, peace, justice and equality. We accomplish this mission through three main strategies: convening, shaping the conversation, and spotlighting and promoting.
The Vision of the Nobel Women's Initiative is a world transformed, a nonviolent world of security, equality and well-being for all.
United by our desire to combat all forms of violence against women in all circumstances, we also recognize that specific issues for women vary around the world. One element of our work is to sponsor international gatherings of women every two years -- in a different region of the world -- to highlight issues of concern to women there. The objective of these meetings is to underscore our commonalities and differences by providing inclusive and energizing forums that ensure meaningful dialogue and networking by women's rights activists around the world -- but with a view to action.
It is our commitment to action that brings us together. Therefore, our meetings are linked with concrete work in the target region leading up to the conference, along with post-conference plans of action to address the issues addressed at the conference. In this way, the Nobel Women's Initiative supports meaningful work on the ground.
We believe profoundly in the sharing of information and ideas. By networking and working together rather than in competition, we enhance the work of all. The Nobel Women's Initiative is committed to supplementing and enhancing existing work and is determined to avoid duplicating the work of others. We want to open new ground for discussion, debate and change.
We hope you share our excitement about the potential of the Nobel Women's Initiative to meaningfully contribute to building peace with justice and equality by working together with women around the world.
Biographies of the Laureates of the Nobel Women's Initiative
Ireland 1978. Betty Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her extraordinary actions to end the sectarian violence in her native Northern Ireland. She shares the award with Mairead Maguire.
Since receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Betty has devoted her life to improving the lives of children; particularly those who have been exposed to injustices, cruelty and horror. She currently heads the Global Children's Foundation and is President of the World Centers of Compassion for Children International. She is also the Chair of Institute for Asian Democracy in Washington D.C. and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Nova Southeastern University.
Ireland 1973. Mairead Maguire was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her extraordinary actions to end the sectarian violence in her native Northern Ireland. She shares the award with Betty Williams. The pair, along with journalist Ciaran McKeown, also founded Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and peaceful society through nonviolent social action. Mairead currently serves as Honorary President.
In the thirty years since receiving the award, Mairead has dedicated her life to promoting peace, both in Northern Ireland and around the world. Her message is simple -nonviolence is the only way to achieve a peaceful and just society. Working with community groups throughout Northern Ireland, as well as with political and church leaders, she has sought to promote dialogue between the deeply divided communities of Catholics and Protestants.
A graduate of Ecumenical Studies from the Irish School of Ecumenics, Maguire works with inter-church and inter-faith organizations and is a member of the International Peace Council. She is a Patron of the Methodist Theological College, and Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education. She is also the author of The Vision of Peace: Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland, published by Orbis Books.
Guatemala 1992. Rigoberta Menchú Tum was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation work based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples in her native Guatemala. She is the first indigenous person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
After receiving the Peace Prize, Rigoberta established the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation which promotes the rights of indigenous people around the world. In 1998, she published Rigoberta: La Nieta de los Mayas, later translated into English and titled Crossing Borders. From 1994 to 2003, Rigoberta served as the official spokesperson for the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Peoples. She has held the position of Good Will Ambassador for the Peace Accords in Guatemala since 2004. Rigoberta is also president of the company Salud para Todos ("Health for All"), which aims to offer cheap generic medicines to indigenous people in Guatemala.
USA 1997. Jody Williams served as the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) until February 1998. Beginning in early 1992 with two non-governmental organizations and a staff of one - Jody Williams, she oversaw its growth to over 1,300 organizations in 95 countries working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines. In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it dramatically achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997. Three weeks later, Williams and the ICBL were awarded the Noble Peace Prize. At that time, she became the tenth woman - and third American woman --in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize. Since February 1998, she has served as a Campaign Ambassador for the ICBL, speaking on its behalf all over the world.
Iran 2003. Shirin Ebadi, J.D., was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights, in particular, the rights of women, children, and political prisoners in Iran. She is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and only the fifth Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize in any field. Dr. Ebadi was one of the first female judges in Iran. She served as president of the city court of Tehran from 1975 to 1979 and was the first Iranian woman to achieve Chief Justice status. She, along with other women judges, was dismissed from that position after the Islamic Revolution in February 1979. She was made a clerk in the court she had once presided over, until she petitioned for early retirement. After obtaining her lawyer's license in 1992, Dr. Ebadi set up private practice. As a lawyer, Dr. Ebadi has taken on many controversial cases defending political dissidents and as a result has been arrested numerous times. In addition to being an internationally-recognized advocate of human rights, she has also established many non-governmental organizations in Iran, including the Million Signatures Campaign, a campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law.
Kenya 2004. Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her actions to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She is the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Prof. Maathai was an active member of the National Council of Women of Kenya from 1976 to 1987 and served as its chairman from 1981 to 1987. In 1976 she introduced the idea of community-based tree planting. She continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organization whose main focus is poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting. The organization eventually became known as the Green Belt Movement (GBM), and to-date has assisted women in planting more than 40 million trees on community lands including farms, schools and church compounds. In December 2002, Prof. Maathai was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98 percent of the vote. Until 2007, she represented the Tetu constituency, Nyeri district in central Kenya (her home region). From 2003 to 2007 Prof. Maathai served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya's ninth parliament.
In September 1998, Prof. Maathai launched and become co-chair of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, which advocates for canceling the debts of poor African countries. Her recent campaign against land grabbing (illegal appropriation of public lands by developers) and the rapacious re-allocation of forest land has received much attention in Kenya and the region.
Burma 1991. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Since she remains under house arrest and increasingly tighter security, the Nobel Women's Initiative cannot invite her to join our efforts at this time. The Nobel Women's Initiative appeals to you to take action for Aung San Suu Kyi by writing the UN Secretary General and members of the Security Council to call for her unconditional and immediate release and to demand a binding resolution to help bring about national reconciliation and democracy in Burma. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Ong San Soo Chee) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 in recognition of her work in the non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. For 14 of the past 19 years, Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest by the Burmese military junta after her political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the 1990 general election in a landslide victory. The military junta refused to recognize the election results and placed Suu Kyi, along with other pro-democracy activists, under house arrest.
Source: Nobel Women's initiative
Judy Rand Fotografer